MADRID, SPAIN –The seaside town of Canido, in Galicia, Spain, has invited Banksy, the anonymous London-based graffiti artist to interpret his own version of Velazquez’s Las Meninas painting. The invitation is part of the annual ‘Las Meninas de Canido’ program when the region hosts an event and invites world-renowned international artists to create personal interpretations of the celebrated painting Las Meninas, a unique composition that questions the relationship between reality and illusion.
The town of Canido has already reserved a space solely for the mysterious and subversive graffiti to participate in the one-of-a-kind cultural experience. On the space is a huge note to Banksy. It reads: Dear Banksy, We have reserved space for you on one of our streets so that you can freely express your most personal interpretation of Las Meninas and help us to make our neighborhood a more beautiful place to live. We are waiting for you.
There are indications that this could be Banksy’s first official artwork in Spain. Although there were rumors he previously created a piece in the Spanish city of San Sebastián, this has never been confirmed and the artwork has since disappeared. Therefore, this moment would be ideal for Banksy, a British political activist, and filmmaker, to make a lasting mark in the country.
Slated for Saturday, September 2nd, and Sunday, September 3rd, the two-day event attracts audience and participants from across the globe. The ‘Las Meninas de Canido’ provides an opportunity for hundreds of artists, musicians, writers, sculptors, and photographers to come together to commemorate the annual occasion and create new artworks that continue to shape and transform Canido’s walls and streets into a global cultural destination.
The Canido event is the brainchild of Eduardo Hermida, a local artist from the neighborhood. In 2008, Hermida thought it would be a great idea to create an event that celebrates past and contemporary artists. Since 2008, the event has grown to become one of the major arts events dedicated to artists in Spain. In almost a decade of the ‘Las Meninas de Canido’, more than 1,200 artists have left their unique imprint on the village’s outdoor canvas. Among those artists are Antón Patiño, Menchu Lamas, César Lombera, Moncho Borrajo, Víctor Coyote and Jorge Llorca.
For Eduardo Hermida, the Founder and head of the ‘Las Meninas de Canido’ program, a major impact of the festival is that Canido is now a source of pride worth celebrating:
“Our town has undergone a total transformation from an urban and aesthetic viewpoint, becoming a source of endless pride for its residents. What used to be a village with somewhat of an inferiority complex, seeing itself as simply in the periphery of decadent cities, it is now a gratified and emerging destination – sure of itself and even envied by others”.
The fact that Banksy has accepted the invitation to be part of this year’s activities is even a greater source of pride for Hermida who explained that “To have Banksy accept our invitation and create one of his masterpieces here would be an honor, further elevating Canido placement on the global art and travel landscape”.
Banksy will be in great company when he goes to Spain to be part of the ‘Las Meninas de Canido’ program. Well-known artists who have already made their mark in Canido with their own interpretations of Las Meninas include London-based and Damien Hirst collaborator Ting Tong Chang; Germany’s Katja Heene (who studied in Oxford) and Syrian Ali Ali.
Las Meninas (1656) is one of the most important paintings in the world. Painted by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of Spain’s artistic Golden Age, the painting is presently on display at the Madrid’s Prado Museum in Spain. A masterpiece of Spanish painting, the rather controversial work is perhaps the most analyzed, discussed, interpreted and imitated painting in history. The painting represents several figures from the Spanish court of King Philip IV caught in a particular moment – resembling a photographic snapshot. In the center of the paintings is the young Infanta, Princess Margarita. She is surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting and bodyguard as well as a dog. They seem to look directly at the viewer, whilst others interact with each other. Behind them, Velázquez portrays himself working the canvas, looking out towards the position where a viewer would be.
Banksy’s participation in this year’s event is being funded by 1906, a beer brand produced by the 100+-year-old Estrella de Galicia family beer company brewery from A Coruña.