Art on Top of Art

By Timi Ayeni

Many images by painters over the years are instantly recognisable, as famous as a Hollywood actor or the latest, hottest pop star. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci or maybe the Water Lily Pond painting by Claude Monet are so renowned we don’t even have to think too hard to know what they look like or even what they may be about. So what happens when another artist draws over or covers these infamous works and takes them in a new direction? Find out more in Art on Top of Art

Image on left Murillo #2, 2021, Oils on Metal and marker on Printed Paper, 60 x 100cm, by Lorenzo Belenguer

It is quite shocking and surprising that some classic works of art have been drawn upon by other artists. Maybe they are redefining and using original paintings to change the meaning.

If you are going to get deeper into the painting as an audience, it is helpful to first understand how these artists redefined original art into a new piece of art.

One of the artists that used original paintings and turned them into new paintings with different meanings was none other than the Chapman brothers. Two British-based artists whose works explored staggering subject matters that are deemed controversial to some audiences.

In one of their most controversial works, from 2001, the brothers bought up some classic images from Spanish artist Francisco de Goya.

They bought a complete set of what has become the most revered series of prints in existence, Goya’s Disasters of War. These were a first-rate, mint-condition set of 80 etchings printed from the artist’s plates. The artists drew on the paintings thereby creating a new narrative to it.

For example, they altered and defaced an original painting from one of de Goya’s “The Disasters of War” series. Painted between 1810 and 1820, the works covered by the brothers went on to shock and even outrage audiences.

They are not the only artists that have turned original art into new art but there is an artist that replicates and recreates old paintings to use for political uproar.

Another person behind this concept is the renowned famous street artist Banksy, who uses his paintings as a way to show his frustrations with society.

As a way to show his anger towards political problems, he recreated the famous water-lily pond painting by Claude Monet which was originally painted in 1893.

‘Show Me the Monet’ by Banksy is one of the most iconic paintings of his provocative body of work. It is an extremely rare entirely hand-painted canvas that helped cement Banksy’s position as a controversial and decisive social commentator for our time.

It was one of the masterpieces exhibited at Banksy’s landmark 2005 exhibition Crude Oils: A Gallery of Re-mixed Masterpieces, Vandalism and Vermin as Banksy repurposes an iconic image in the Western canon; Claude Monet’s view of the Japanese footbridge in his water garden at Giverny.

With its tongue-in-cheek pun of a title, Banksy’s painstakingly observed re-painting delivers a complex dialogue that tackles prescient issues of our time, such as the environment and the capitalist landscape of our contemporary moment, not to mention the art establishment and its current identity crisis.

In the painting, a sumptuously rendered orange traffic cone and a thickly textured shopping trolley disrupt the romance of Monet’s iconic Impressionist masterpiece. However, Banksy’s version is more twenty-first-century fly-tipping than a timeless utopia.

Delivered with the ironic dead-pan immediacy of a punchline, the underlying conceptual complexity at stake here belies its humour.

Carrying on this tradition; non-binary artist Lorenzo Belenguer is bringing a new perspective to this genre in art.

Constable #7, PostColonial Oils on Metal and marker on Printed Paper, 60 x 100cm, by Lorenzo Belenguer

By adding markings to traditional artworks, he brings a new narrative using symbols to reinforce the hierarchies in the social world and their effectiveness inside of the artwork.

The paintings Belenguer has done include the “Constable #7” from his Post Colonial Masterpiece series which he draws inside of the original painting recently this year and the Murillo #2 which was painted two years ago.

As everyone says “A picture is worth a thousand words” but sometimes it takes us some time to find words that can describe a painting.

If you want to find out more about the exhibition visit Lorenzo’s exhibition which starts from the 23rd of June until the 23rd of October at the Huddle Art Group Exhibition 2023 in London or visit his website at LorenzoBelenguer.Art.

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