18 January 2019, Pepino
I’ve drawn and painted hundreds of animals but I was never really interested in them. Anthropomorphized fauna in fables, cartoons, advertising and subsequently in my art work are depictions of human beings, not animals.
Dear Donald, if you look like a duck, swim like a duck, and quack like a duck, then you probably are a duck. The ravenous carnivore rooster mascot of a fast food eatery devouring deep-fried chicken is not supposed to make you think poultry cannibalism.
An animalier is an artist who specializes in the realistic portrayal of animals. In the 19th century a taste for animal subjects in paintings was very widespread among the middle-classes. After those times the attitude towards animals have changed radically. Our dichotomic relationship with them consist of adoring their cuteness (real or Disneyesque) and their use as raw material for the alimentary industry.
Now I’m drawing animals. I’m a turbo-animaler.
I have cherished an idea for a faunal art project since 2016 when I was heading to the first leg of the Border Field Trip with Serlachius Museums' director Pauli. We were going to the African borders of the European Union and the night before catching the train to Algeciras, where the boats for Morocco set sail, we had dinner (Bugs Bunny in tomato sauce) in a Canarian gastrobar in Madrid and talked about animals. In Pauli’s opinion, our time will be remembered of the way how we treat animals. In the future our actions will be considered faunacidical and condemned like human slavery and holocaust. This is possibly true although my worldview is very anthropocentric. Before thinking of the wellbeing of pandas and spiders, I want to create world where all human beings have their basic needs covered and access to good life. Possibly I’m wrong - isn’t this exactly what nationalist, patriots, racists and other right-wing riffraff thinks of foreigners, immigrants and refugees?
I’ve understood that the idea of animal rights centers in the avoidance of suffering. It’s noteworthy that all manifestos of the animal rights have been composed by humans. It is like women’s right written by men or a movement of people of color led by colorless people. What rights the animals demand? How could they voice their clamor?
Another important question: Could conceptual rights be as important as corporal rights?
If the aliens of the outer space attacked the Earth and enslaved us, what would be worse - eating us or making us alienmorphic cartoon caharacters? Eating human sausages with ketchup or creating monsters half human half martian? I guess I prefer to be a meatball than a pet in an alien family or a mascot of an interplanetary fast-food chain. What is worse - murder or humiliation? What is more valuable - life or dignity?
Should Animal Liberation Front attack Disneyland rather than piggeries?
RS 2018 TOP TEN
21 December 2018, Pepino
Salon de Peinture Grand-Popo ranks the number one as an attempt to make a difference. During my residency in Grand-Popo, Benin, West Africa, I set up a portrait painting business with Gustavo, who started working as my fixer but became a partner. We employed Louis who is a professional commercial sign painter and delivered over ten commissioned portraits to clients in Europe and the Middle East. Unfortunately we lacked an effective sales structure and orders dried up but at least we proposed a model how to find new export products for a poverty-stricken village. Thanks, Gustavo and Louis!
The number two must be my operation that enabled my body to be operational in the future too. I went through a neurosurgical discectomy, a replacement of three herniated discs that pressed my spinal cord. Without the surgery I could have lost soon my ability to draw and paint. Thank you, Dr. Alvarez!
The third place is for The Best of All Possible Worlds - a dream book made true in Austria. The book is a deluxe volume of my A4 size drawings and comes with an original drawing. I make many exhibitions every year but this kind of a book probably once in the life time. Still available! Thanks, Simeon!
As the fourth thing I list Bad Hair Day Leaders, another project made in Benin collaborating with Louis. It’s a set of portraits of the most powerful political leaders of the the world. I showed the works in the street front of La Légende in Grand-Popo but surprisingly nobody has proposed to exhibit this extraordinary work in the art world. However, the visibility was huge when the series was featured in the cover story of Austrian newspaper Die Presse’s monthly supplement. I hope it will be shown in a gallery or a museum when the portrayed people are still in power. Merci again, Louis! Thanks, Juliette and Lauri!
The number five is Riiko Sakkinen’s Drawing room, my show at Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki, where I was drawing under the eye of the gallery visitors for two weeks and half. It was a tiring but enjoyable experience and emphasized the importance of the small drawings in my ouevre - with the freshly published drawing book. Thanks to the Galerie Forsblom team!
The number six goes for Capitalist Color Theory, a solo show at Galería Kernel in Cáceres, Spain. Kernel works with abstract art and it was curious to place my works in that context. I exhibited investigations about the color and the art history’s first totally abstract painting. Gracias, Julián and María!
In the seventh position I place Late Night Capitalism, a solo show at Makasiini Contemporary, Turku, Finland. It was just a basic RS show with paintings, drawings and objects but including some of my best works, both recent and older. Thanks, Frej and his crew!
The number eight is for the all the group shows and art fairs during the year in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Sweden and the United States. Thanks, Raúl, Abir, Antonio, Andrea, Florian and everybody else!
The ninth place belongs to my studio, Turborealist Headquarters. It’s lonely work there but some great people help me when I need it. Gracias, Luis, Toni and Javier!
The last thing in the list is the most meaningful. The greatest pleasure in my life is to watch my kids grow. Thanks, wife, daughter and son!
POST-OPENING STRESS DISORDER
26 November 2018, Pepino
Why I feel so lousy after the exhibition openings nowadays? When I come back home nothing makes sense and I don’t want to be artist anymore. Late Night Capitalism looks good at Makasiini Contemporary, Turku, and some works were sold including the only big painting exhibited - a capitalist Pinocchio which is one of my best paintings ever. It was placed in a Danish private collection but I understood that a conservative minister wanted it too. My enemies buy my works. Very few intellectuals have enough purchase power and desire to own art.
Now I’ve lost the drive and the inspiration again. I’m afraid that the my art makes no difference and can’t change the world. I’m just thinking about how to sell and provide for my family. I don’t want to be a robot-like professional who just works without thinking. It’s hard to question everything all the time but it’s necessary to keep my practice sharp.
LATE NIGHT CAPITALISM
12 November 2018, Pepino
Winter arrives and my badly isolated studio is getting chilly. I've done some good paintings during the fall and now it's time to move to the drawing table in our library room close to the fireplace. Painting is physical work, drawing is thinking. Before the shift I travel to Turku, Finland, next week for my solo show Late Night Capitalism at Makasiini Contemporary. I wrote a text for the exhibition but I'm not sure whether the gallery is going to use it.
Late capitalism exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of totalitarianism. Political power in late capitalist states involves a total rule by the market and an all-encompassing propaganda campaign, which is disseminated through the privately controlled social media marked by mass surveillance and widespread use of brain washing. Academic Roberto Colgate describes late capitalism recognizing no limits to its authority in any sphere of public or private life and extending that authority wherever feasible.
18 October 2018, Pepino
One of my favorite lists is the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge written by Jorge Luis Borges - he mischiefly attributes it to an ancient Chinese source. The list divides animals in categories: Those that belong to the emperor, embalmed ones, those that are trained, suckling pigs, mermaids, fabulous ones, stray dogs, those that are included in this classification, those that tremble as if they were mad, innumerable ones, those drawn with a very fine camel hair brush, et cetera, those that have just broken the flower vase, those that at a distance resemble flies.
The list appears in Borges' text The Analytical Language of John Wilkins published in 1942. I think it's time to update it to the 21st century and add few categories: those that are genetically modified, lolcats, anthropomorphic Disney characters, those who appear in breakfast cereal boxes, in vitro livestock, Hello Kitty and friends, pig mascots that advertise hot dogs, those that star Angry Birds video games, those that have extinguished as a result of the climate change or other human activity.