McCHICKEN IN THE ART WORLD
25 May 2019, Pepino
The Lima-based Tokio Galería visited Madrid and organized there a one night show. Abdul asked me to participate and I gave him four small works, including It's a Dash, the first ever internet connected painting with an Amazon Dash button to order condoms.
I drove to Madrid and decided to stay there during the whole event from 5pm until 10pm to take the art works with me back to the studio. It was a long time to hang around for an introvert like me. I don't know many people in the Madrid art world and the most of those who I know I prefer not to talk with. I drank a couple of craft beers, was bored and decided to see the neighborhood.
I stopped at a campaign meeting of the Communist Party of the Workers of Spain. They also served beer to the comrades and sympathizers. I didn't want to drink (and drive) more but I enjoyed the political rhetorics en plein air. All the candidates were middle aged men and most of their supporters younger women.
At the art party the microbrewery sponsorship had ran out of beer. The creative class were drinking the same Mahou with the communist working class youth. Teresa Margolles walked in and everybody wanted a selfie with the art star. I went to the lavatory and there were two men sniffing coke. I opened the other toilet and there were two women kissing and doing lines.
I headed outside again and had a McChicken and alcohol free beer for dinner. Alone. It was so sad that I was laughing at myself. I went back to the gallery, packed the paintings, said goodbye to Abdul and drove 120km to home. I felt like McChicken.
MUSIC I LISTEN AT THE STUDIO
15 May 2019, Cervera de los Montes
Tom Zé: Proposta de Amor, Ayo & Youssoupha: Fire, ZAZ: Qué vendrá, DJ Maphorisa & DJ Raybel: iWalk Ye Phara, Burkina Electric: Mdole, Amadou & Mariam: Sénégal Fast Food, Third World. Human Market Place, Rokia Traoré: Ka Moun Ké, Jain: Flash (Pointe Noire), Benin International Musical: Téoun Téoun, TLC: Waterfalls, Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble: Agamafa Ja Hèd'e, Freshlyground: Blck Grls, Jovanotti: Penso Positivo, Maii and Zeid: Kalam El Leil, Outlandish: Aicha, Rosalia: Malamente, Stereo MC's: Sophisticated, Sudan Archives: Not for Sale, Vika & Linda: Chained to the Wheel, FM Laeti: Boy, Amparanoia: Moreno, Buika: New Spanish Afro Generation, Tender Forever: Heartbroken Forever, Manu Chao: Me Llaman Calle, Mashrou' Leila: Raksit Leila, M.I.A.; Paper Planes, Hindi Zafra: Beautiful Tango, Soapkills: Tango, Maco Oey & Grand Poppoo: Mariama, Fatoumata Diawara: Sowa, Lilli Wood & The Prick: Prayer in C, Karyece Fotso: So'a, Lauryn Hill: Doo Wop (That Thing), Ben E. King: Stand by Me, James Dean Bradfield: Emigre, Omou Sangaré: Yala, Brenda Fassie: Vul'indela, Tribalistas: Velha Infância, Diana Ross and The Supremes: Reflections, Soledad Braco: Hasta Siempre, Jose Hisaishi & Azumi Inoue: My Neighbor Totoro.
SLOW AND FAST
01 April 2019, Pepino
After the cold winter I returned last month to the studio painting works for Animal Show Business at Galerie Forsblom next year February. When I was in school, I did homework the day it was given, not the last night before it was due. Nevertheless, I think I’m the fastest artist of the southwestern Europe when necessary - I’ve saved several gallerists, curators and museum directors when they have had a cancellation. I can set up a big show in no time at all. Yet I like to work with a slow pace too, investigate the themes and meditate every detail profoundly. I started the animal project in almost two years ago and this winter it started to take the final shape in my plans. Now I have to complete few more works and I can do something totally different next.
OUR FAVORITE KINGS CASE
08 March 2019, Pepino
Last week the day before Arco Madrid, I found out that my work Our Favorite Kings wasn't the only portrait of Felipe VI at the art fair. Santiago Sierra and Eugenio Merino showed a huge ninot of king of Spain. Ninots are figures that are burned during the Fallas, a traditional celebration in Valencia. Ninots are constructions of paper, wax, wood and polystyrene foam, often caricatures in provocative poses, including figures of politicians and the royal family. I thought that compared to the wow factor peace my black and white drawing wouldn't receive much attention but I was wrong. Of course the ninot was the work that even the Spanish minister of culture had to comment but Our Favorite Kings made it t all newspapers, several blogs, radio and national TV news. The work was acquired by Lluis Bassat, an advertizing mogul and TV host, which gave us extra visibility. The fair is over but yesterday a TV news crew came to my studio and today I have another interview for a TV program.
The ninot was seen by everybody as mockery to the monarchy but the reactions to my work have been more varied. Catalan separatist and far left have celebrated it because they think it discredits the king too. For the same reason it angered Spanish far right nationalits. On the other hand, the surprising reactions came from the more moderate right-wing, they see the work defending the monarchy and supporting the Spanish unity. I've been called a patriot artist (though I'm just an immigrant).
I think I succeeded. I make political art but not propaganda. Propaganda is communication that has only one possible interpretation. Good art must be more complex and assign the responsibility of thinking to the audience. I can't and I don't want to control the meaning of my art.
FROM AN AFRICAN VILLAGE TO THE ART WORLD NEWS
19 February 2019, Pepino
Naima wrote a great article about Bad Hair Day Leaders and Salon de Peinture Grand-Popo for the BBC. We had been talking about it since I launched the two projects almost a year ago and this was a good moment to make it happen when the leaders are exhibited at Himmelblau, Tampere, Finland.
Maybe I was once again dreaming too much, thinking that this would skyrocket the portrait business of Salon de Peinture - and bring a little bit wealth to the tiny village of Heve - but though we have had hundreds of thousands readers, only a few people have inquired pictures. Today Artnet, the prominent artmarket website, wrote about us in their news section.
Why a Street Painter From Benin Is Big in Helsinki – Benin-based artist Louis Houenoude used to paint signs for barber shops. Now, his series of satirical portraits, “Bad Hair Day Leaders,” which includes depictions of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Pope Francis I, is making waves in Finland. The artist’s solo show in Helsinki came about after the Finnish artist Riiko Sakkinen encountered his work on a trip to Benin last year. Now, new commissions are flooding in, and Houenoude is expanding his studio.
Very nice visibility but, unfortunately, most of the things go wrong. The show is not in Helsinki but in Tampere. Making Waves? Actually, the show hasn't got really media coverage in Finland. Louis painted the portraits but the satirical attitude is basically mine. It's Riiko Sakkinen feat. Louis Houenoude. I hope that the commissions will flood in soon and Louis can expand his studio!