El recinte [The Precinct]

Acrylic on canvas
200 x 200 cm
Private collection, Banyoles


The spatial distribution of Las Meninas serves here as a framework for the introduction of allusions to contemporary Spanish painting, with references to Picasso, Dalí, Tàpies, Saura and Millares replacing Velázquez’s personages and strip them of the plastic qualities that helped give the picture its mythic status: elements of perspective, economy of resources and colours, delicacy of the brush, expressiveness of the eyes…

The substitutions here exercise a function of visual rupture and are integrated into the work in various ways. The choice of paintings by Antoni Tàpies and Manuel Millares evokes the importance of the Rubens and the Jordaens and their perception by the spectator, thanks mainly to a limited range of colours, though the violent contrasts add a differentiated content that the other pictorial borrowings underpin. The fragment from Dalí’s Premonition of Civil War takes the place of the mirror (the Surrealist object par excellence), thus inviting us to associate Dalí’s reference to the Spanish Civil War with the monarchs. This effect is strengthened by the presence of the picture by Juan Genovés and the replacement of the figure of José Nieto with his terrified crowd. This obviously draws a parallel between two eras that evoke the imposition by force of Power, the Motherland and the Empire.

Of the group of figures in Las Meninas only the dog is retained, now responsible for guarding another infanta —one of Antonio Saura’s Damas— and Pablo Picasso’s María Bárbola. The differences of scale operate in favour of the figure of the dwarf and explicitly evoke the first variation on Las Meninas by Picasso (MPB 70.433). In addition, the pure colours borrowed from the universe of Joan Miró contribute vivacity and a touch of humour. This canvas by Equipo Crónica explores pairs of terms and concepts: Velázquez/Picasso, Las Meninas/Guernica, dismantling/fusion, break/continuity, past/present, historical concept/artistic concept, commissioned painting/spontaneous or subversive expression. In 1966, Rafael Solbes and Manolo Valdés began appropriating the mediatized images of the great masters of Spanish painting. In their series La recuperación (1967-1969) they offered rereadings of Ribera, El Greco, Goya and especially Velázquez. One of the paintings, an updating of Las Meninas, is entitled El recinte [The Precinct] (renamed El recinte I). The two artists also used Velázquez’s famous work in their series Autopsia de un oficio [Autopsy of a Trade] (1970-1971), and again in 1971, in El recinte II, as part of the suite Policía y cultura., which belongs within the general context of grassroots agitation both in this country and internationally, is a reflection of the events of 1968.

Equip Crònica

A group of artists composed of Rafael Solbes (Valencia, 1939-1981), Manolo Valdés (Valencia, 1942) and, initially, Juan Antonio Toledo (Valencia, 1940-1995). Formed in 1965, the group took from Pop the use of flat colour and the idea of art as mass communication. Its work evolved toward satirical formulations that combine iconographic elements from the history of art and contemporary culture.