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Fans want Portsmouth fan painting removed from Southampton Art Gallery
HE is banned from St Mary’s for his disgusting behaviour including urinating on seats.
However, a portrait of Pompey’s best known fan is hanging in Southampton’s art gallery.
Click HERE to view the big picture... if you dare
Angry Saints fans are calling for the painting of the infamous John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood to be removed.
The larger than life character is banned from St Mary’s after being caught on CCTV urinating on seats in the away end and being thrown out of a derby match in 2003 for persistently refusing to sit down when ordered to by stewards.
Dressed in his trademark blue and white colours, and showing some of his 60 Portsmouth tattoos, the 2m painting has angered Saints fans who have warned it should be removed before someone vandalises it.
The portrait by Portsmouth artist Karl Rudziak is one of 52 paintings as part of the BP Portrait Awards exhibition.
The City Council has defended its inclusion saying it is a part of “the most prestigious portrait competition in the world”.
However, Mike O’Callaghan, chairman of the Saints Independent Supporters Association said there is outrage among Saints fans.
“I won’t be surprised if someone risks criminal prosecution and vandalises it,” he said.
“It should be taken down or better yet, taken down the pub and put on a dartboard.”
Dozens of other Saints fans yesterday vented their anger on the Daily Echo website calling for the council to get it out of the gallery.
A spokesman for Southampton City Council said: “The BP Portrait Award 2009 is the most prestigious portrait competition in the world, highlighting the best in contemporary portrait painting, and Southampton is proud to welcome this exhibition to the city for the first time in the award’s 30-year history.
“Some people may see Karl Rudziak’s portrait of Portsmouth FC’s most recognisable fan as confrontational but art should be about freedom of expression – it should also be engaging and galleries should spark debate.
“Of course, there has been a long-standing and intense rivalry between Southampton and Portsmouth football fans but the two cities also have a great deal in the way of shared history, heritage and culture.
The spokesman added that, although no extra measures have been taken, security staff at the gallery were aware of the controversy and would be extra vigilant around the portrait.