January 16, 2021

A succulent social absurdity | Culture

A succulent social absurdity | Culture


When all of Madrid and half of Spain are preparing for the commemoration of the Prado's bicentennial, the Velázquez Prize that the Barcelona artist has just won Antoni Miralda (Tarrasa, 1942) breaks into the scene to create a kind of popular taste, which will allow to appreciate this recognition in its most critical and institutional dimension. Diego Velazquez he painted drunks, gods, dwarves, jesters, saints, princes and workers. It represented the defeat of a people (The Surrender of Breda) as a pact of knights, where the honor between winners and losers is the true pictorial theme. In their canvases, the peasants toast with the god Bacchus (The drunks) and the workers of the loom of Santa Isabel speak with Minerva disguised as an old woman (Spinners). In Las Meninas, the painter extends the spatial order of the painting to include the viewer or, seen from another angle, lowers the kings of its pedestal. The important thing for Velázquez was the intellectual dignity of the work, not if his characters were secondary.

That attitude as an artist is intelligently absorbed by Miralda centuries later. Their actions on the street, involving subalterns and protest groups, their parades with floats where parody real estate speculation and visual confusion in the public space, the garish colors of their performances with food, its altars full of objects kitsch, its celebrations of the harvest and its belief that the cultural synthesis can improve the coexistence, spread critical radiations and collective amenity.

The most discernible quality of Miralda is that he seems to care about the market and its double agents, and although the culinary products with which he gulps his audience are intragables, they end up being a succulent social absurdity. The Velázquez that was granted to him would not have been possible without his accomplices, Bartomeu Marí and Vicente Todolí, that organized retrospective paths in the Palace of Velázquez (2010), in the Macba and the Azkuna Center (2016-2017). Both commissioners fixed with humor and elegance that period of the mature artist who acts like a child: when the day seems very long and elementary things, like sunlight, smells and tables full of fruit and sweets were paradise. These ingredients are in the Prado de los Jerónimos, but would the art gallery with this big bouffe?

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