31 May 2011, Monterrey
In the morning, I arrived in Monterrey after traveling over 30 hour. Daniel and Leonardo were at the the airport waiting me holding a sign with the logo of my show and a black Lobo camioneta – the powerful Ford 4x4 pick-up preferred by the Mexican narco hitmen. I hope that the cocaine millionaires will buy my stuff though Juan Carlos said me that they are not yet on that high cultural level, they still buy just impressionism and old masters. In Colombia, the cocaine money is already enough old to buy cutting edge contemporary. Mexico's narcos are just vulgar nouveau riche.
Now I’m in my hotel room at the Crowne Plaza Monterrey drinking Tecate Light I got from a 7-Eleven. Brenda has told me not go out, because it’s the most dangerous city in Mexico, where the federal police, the army and the two cartels Los Zetas and The Gulf Cartel are in an open war against each other. Anyways, I ventured to some dark streets and had a good talk with the waiter of a shabby cantina. It’s total otherness but not like in China – here I can speak the local language.
A COINCIDENCE POINT IN TALAVERA
30 May 2011, Cervera de los Montes
It has been a fun week between my trips to Paris and Monterrey - I've been hosting Eeris, who has been on vacation here but also lectured at the local cookery school.
The most hilarious thing happened on Friday when I was showing Eeris Talavera de la Reina, the town that is 10km from our village. Actually I would consider Talavera more like a huge village than a small town, though it was funded by the Roman Empire and has now almost 100 thousand inhabitants. Talavera lacks culture. That's why I was so amazed when Eeris spotted BLO Laboratorio Digital, a hybrid space with a photographic studio, an art gallery and a book shop. The gallery was empty. Elliot, the owner, told that the painter who was supposed to inaugurate had had an accident and couldn't finish the paintings. Eeris told Elliot that I'm an artist. Elliot wanted to see my work and I opened my website and he said that he had seen this stuff before, actually that very morning. He opened his e-mail account and there was a post from a Mexican mailing list with the press release of my show at Pristine Galerie with picture of one drawing and one of my Super Size Happy Meal Boxes - a screen print series published by Eeris!
That night we went to install my show at BLO and we'll do a reception when I'm back from Mexico. I had never imagined to exhibit so close to where I live but with Eeris anything is possible.
BULLETPROOF VESTS AS SUMMER CLOTHES
25 May 2011, Cervera de los Montes
Yesterday, I was in Talavera de la Reina shopping Yokana's summer clothes for Monterrey - I'm going there next Monday for my solo show Don't Ask What the Capitalism Can Do for You But What You Can Do for the Capitalism. I sat down at La Dolce Vita's Terrace to drink a capucciono and saw on the screen of my iPhone a photo of a destroyed facade. Damian writes in the caption that last Saturday four guys were killed outside, 2 of them the security guys. The AK 47 bullet impacts are still there. This is the bar were the art world people go in Monterrey, which used to be the safest city in the Latin America but is now the most violent place in Mexico. I got just linen shirts but maybe a bulletproof vest would have been a better choice.
Raúl, who curates my show at Pristine Galerie, comments: That is why we, or at least me, have to keep curating in Monterrey and bringing international artist there; we can not be held captive to fear (easy for me to say, I don't live there, and my thoughts are always with those who live in that milieu of senseless violence).
21 May 2011, Paris
After my son was born a year ago, I've been limiting my traveling and I thought that I would enjoy Paris a lot but I've been homesick missing my kids.
I think I should have had more work to do (or arrive just one day before the opening). Installing the show was finally simple and everything looks good, though I feel that I should have sweat more. I'm from a protestant culture, where the results are not enough but the working itself is highly valued. Now I have had too much free time and I don´t like really walking around, sipping coffees (€4 in Paris!) at the terraces and visiting museums.
Now I'm at the airport and going back to Spain, where the youth has started a revolution from the Puerta del Sol but I'm not going to live in their tents at Puerta del Sol and demand justice and democracy - I'm going home to play with my kids. I'm anxious to know if my son has learned to walk and what poems my daughter has written while I've been away.
SCOOTERING FROM MARAIS TO BELLEVILLE
17 May 2011, Paris
I arrived yesterday in Paris. Emilie picked me up at the Orly airport and we drove to the gallery. Before she had a little white cube in Belleville where I did a show three years ago but now the gallery is in a strange apartment like space - a fireplace - included in Marais where all the bluechip galleries are located. I'll take that as a challenge. Marais is great for business but I prefer the Paris of Belleville with it's big Chinese community and the Arab street market and no tourists.
Then I went to have dinner with Krista - I stay in her place near Bastille. And then she found two Finnish architectural students at the street and invited them to drink with us all night. 3.30 a.m. Krista prepared us spaghetti with tomato sauce so I didn't really need any solid breakfast this morning when I started installing the exhibition 9.30 a.m. Ironically, first we scootered (a fantastic way to see the city) to Belleville because I needed Chinese cardboard boxes for a construction where I'm going to project the slide show My Favorite Escort Girls in the People's Republic of China.
CHINA IN PARIS
15 May 2011, Cervera de los Montes
I'm packing my contemporary calligraphy hanging scrolls for Paris, where I'm going to be on Monday. I've been working hard all the spring at my rural studio and it's a strange feeling that now I have to go to a metropolis, show my stuff and network with people. My wife says that I have developed the agoraphobia - an anxiety disorder defined as a morbid fear of crowds and or uncontrolled social conditions. I think that's totally bullshit and that I'm going to have great fun with my gallerist Emilie and my friend Krista, who will be housing me in her place.
The exhibition My Favorite Banks and Escort Girls in the People's Republic of China, opens next Thursday at Galerie e.l Bannwarth, Paris.
THE GREAT CAPITALIST CULTURAL REVOLUTION
10 May 2011, Cervera de los Montes
I had to watch with my daughter a film called Gnomeo and Juliet, an unnecessary version of Shakespeare's play. The characters are garden gnomes, that reminded me of another film - Amélie kidnapping her father's gnome and having an air-hostess friend send pictures of it posing with landmarks from all over the world.
The garden gnome is one of the most repulsive objects in the world but while watching the animate family film, I got an idea how to use it for my purposes. The pointy hats reminded me of dunce caps given (at least in popular culture) to schoolkids to wear as a punishment. And even more, it resembled those hats used for public humiliation in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. The victims of the Red Guards had their crimes written on the pointy hats and signs hanging from their necks.
Now I'm working with drawings and sculptures of red garden gnomes humiliated by the Great Capitalist Cultural Revolution. Traitors of the Free Market!
OPEN LOVE LETTER TO THE CAPITALISM
06 May 2011, Cervera de los Montes
On the first page of our story, the future seemed so bright. Then this thing turned out so evil. I don’t know why I’m still surprised. Even angels have their wicked schemes and you take that to new extremes but you’ll always be my hero, even though you’ve lost your mind.
Just gonna stand there and watch me burn but that’s all right because I like the way it hurts. Just gonna stand there and hear me cry but that’s all right because I love the way you lie. Ohhh, I love the way you lie.
Now there’s gravel in our voices, glass is shattered from the fight. In this tug of war, you’ll always win, even when I’m right ‘cause you feed me fables from your hand with violent words and empty threats. And it’s sick that all these battles are what keeps me satisfied.
RUBBING SALT AND LEMON IN YOUR WOUNDS
04 May 2011, Cervera de los Montes
I've finished the Chinese lists for the show in Paris and now I'm doing some new drawings for the Monterrey show. I'm going to Paris in less than two weeks and when I come back, I stay only a week at home before flying to America and during that week I'm not going to be working because my friend, curator and screen print publisher Eeris visits me for the first time and I have to drink gin and tonics with him.
For Mexico, I preparing a series of three 112x76cm drawings. I'm doing a new version of Taco Shit (Originally Taco Shack in Austin, Texas) and revisiting the Nesquik Bunny who loves Capitalism holding a sign that reads Yo te quiero con limón y sal, yo te quiero tal y como estás, no hace falta cambiarte nada... I love you with lemon and salt, I love you as you are, there's no need to change anything. It's from the lyrics of the beautiful song Limón y Sal by the Mexican singer Julieta Venegas.
THE CARREFOUR CITIES IN CHINA
02 May 2011, Cervera de los Montes
Carrefour is a French international hypermarket chain with a heavy presence of the retail market in the People's Republic of China. The major
In 2008 Olympic torch relay was disrupted by Tibetan independence advocates in Paris. In response, the Chinese activists promoted boycotting Carrefout representing France (the power and symbols are not anymore in the embassies but in the hypermarkets).
Carrefour China stated that it does support the Beijing Olympics and that they will never do anything to harm the feelings of Chinese people. And the Chinese continued shopping. These are the cities where Carrefour's 163 hypermarkets are located in the PRC:
Anshan, Beijing, Beilun, Bengbu, Changchun, Changsha, Changzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Daqing, Dalian, Dongguan, Foshan, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Haikou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Hefei, Huainan, Jiaxing, Jinan, Kunming, Liaoyang, Luoyang, Maanshan, Mudanjiang, Nanchong, Nanjing, Nantong, Ningbo, Putian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Shijiazhuang, Suzhou, Tangshan, Tianjin, Urumqi, Wuhan, Wulumuqi, Wuxi, Xiamen, Xiaogan, Xuzhou, Yancheng, Zhengzhou, Zhuhai, Zhuzhou.