We’re not sure if you Howl & Echoes readers are the sophisticated, discerning art connoisseurs we all believe you are. Being completely and utterly talentless and not in any way intuitive when it comes to fine art, all I really know is that modern art sucks something awful and that my favourite art is the type that I couldn’t possibly create myself in a month of Sundays. Huge, intricate portraits from the 17th century, when everything in life was just majestic as fuck.
One man agrees wholeheartedly with me apparently. His name is Reuben Dangoor, who also happens to be an enormous fan of the UK grime scene, and has combined his obvious talents of Impressionistic art with his love of contemporary grime artists and given us possibly the best portraits of all time. They transcend the concepts of race and class, contrasting British street culture and the grime scene with the prim and proper austerity of historical Britain and they are just magnificent. I can’t really explain it better than he did to Complex UK:
“I just started to combine a few of the stereotypical views of England and old school Britishness, with these guys—I think they’re flying the flag for the U.K. in a way that’s far more relevant.”
Have a look if you don’t believe me:
Here we have famous late 19th century historian, Stormzy. Replete with a pair of fresh out the box Adidas slides, Assoc. Prof. Stormzy has brewed himself a fresh cup of Earl Grey, slipped into his favourite Adidas tracksuit and, with a portrait of his revered lecturer from Oxford, Wiley, gazing down upon him with the ever watchful eye of a teacher who is witnessing his student’s knowledge surpass his very own, is ready to get down to some deep critical thinking on a chintz by the fire on the origins of the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
Assoc. Prof. Stormzy has spent a lifetime engrossed in the noble pursuits of both academia and also being as dour as humanly possible. The scornfully patronising look on his face is as if you’ve suggested he spend his next free hour playing you in best of three FIFA on six minute halves, knowing full well that he has 12 feet of parchment on the economic stability of Siam to present at the University Alumni Dinner next Thursday.
You know full well he doesn’t have time to play you in FIFA, you troglodyte.
And here we have Lieutenant General D Double E of Her Majesty’s Grimed Forces (the Newham Division). As you can see, he is as fearless as a leader as he is curmudgeonly. The blood flowing through his battle-tested veins a mixture of 100% ice and 0% fucks to give.
Judging by the witheringly disdainful side-eye he is casting upon you, you have gravely affronted the Lieutenant General with your very presence, and he has as about as much time for your shit as the average English commoner of the period had for basic personal hygiene (it’s none). This man has fought and won more wars than you’ve had hot meals, probably responsible for as many ghastly deaths as the Black Plague. And here you are bothering him and highway robbing him of his valuable time so you can just stand there painting his regal visage like the absolute oxygen thieving cur you are.
You don’t even have to ask to know that this man has absolutely killed someone on horseback with a sword. And he did it so ass-kickingly well that he received the Street Fighter Medal of Valour for doing it. Hell, he could probably kill the shit out of someone with that golden mic adorning his belt, but it’s sadly only a ceremonial token.
Don’t fuck with Lieutenant General D Double E.
This though. This is art. This is the very definition of art. This should be encased in bulletproof glass in The National Gallery in London. Everything about this is yes. This is the most English portrait ever captured.
Skepta, clad entirely in his customary white including a pair of Air Max shoes he could only have acquired through the means of time travel. Most knights ride into battle wearing a suit of armour, but there is no blade nor axe nor arrow that could penetrate that stark white kit. There is a bleakly grey English sky cast over the rolling green hills of the rural northern countryside. He carries a Union Jack in one hand, its tattered and frayed edges are the visible scars it bears from being held aloft through countless bloody battles. The screams of the dead, those restless ghosts of the civil wars and violent invasions played out on these blood-drenched fields seem to whisper into it, buoying it gently on the chilly autumnal breeze.
All of this while he sits astride the most majestic white steed that ever lived. I think it might even be Shadowfax. This is a horse who has seen the fear in a man’s eyes when he knows he isn’t long for this world. And this horse knows things. You just know that Sir Skepta of Tottenham and this horse have a natural connection and can converse telepathically.
I would follow him into hell and back. God save Skepta, but we should definitely replace the British national anthem with Shutdown posthaste.