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!
MANIFESTO OF ANTHROPOMORPHIC ANIMALSí RIGHTS
15 February 2019, Pepino
We demand true animal rights. We demand zoological freedom. We demand freedom from the slavery of theme parks, fables, cartoons, games and advertising. We don’t want to be instrumentalized in animal show business.
We claim our natural habitat back. We don’t want to be grotesque anthropomorphic monsters domesticated in Wonderland or Duckburg. We want to be animals, not distorted hybrid creatures. We don’t want to live in houses, wear clothes, brush our teeth or talk human bullshit. We don’t want to be slaves of human culture and imagination.
Signers: Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty, Snoopy, Pink Panther, Bugs Bunny, Sponge Bob, Porky Pig, Yogi Bear, Kermit the Frog, Tigger, Tweety, Sonic the Hedgehog
BAD HAIR DAY LEADERS EXPRESS SHOW
27 January 2019, Pepino
I did the Bad Hair Day Leaders painting series ten months ago in Benin and I was already getting worried - the work depicting the most powerful presidents, prime minister, chancellors and religious leaders is like yesterday's newspaper when some of them are not anymore in power. Later the work will be again interesting when a few years pass and it becomes a historic document of our times. I had talked about the work to all gallerists and curators I work with but hadn't got any feasible proposal to show the project.
Friday, 18th January
Pertti phones me and asks is the series still available for a show. He has one of Himmelblaus' spaces free until the end of February.
Sunday, 20th January
We talk again and decide that there's no reason to wait. Theresa May can fall any time with the Brexit. We plan that if it happens during the show, her portrait is taken down to the floor. Pertti says he has to check some things with his team before setting the opening day.
Monday, 21st January
Pertti says that we can do it on Thursday. I buy the flights to Tampere, Finland, for Tuesday. I pack the paintings, two pieces of baggage.
Tuesday, 22nd January
I drive to Madrid Airport and fly to Tampere via Helsinki. Unfortunately, the paintings don't arrive. I go to the sauna in Grand Hotel Tammer. It's too cold to go outside, fortunately the gallery is only three hundred meters from the hotel.
Wednesday, 23rd January
The paintings arrive. We install the show. I go to the sauna of the hotel with Maco, who was my neighbor in Grand-Popo, Benin. Oulu Museum of Art contacts us and asks to show the series in May (Is Theresa still in?).
Thurday, 24th January
Opening of the show. Maco plays the two songs he composed in Benin. Not too many people attends the opening but two museum directors arrive when the others have left. A great blini and vodka dinner with them in Grand Hotel Tammer. One of the directors is interested in acquiring the work.
Friday, 25th January
I fly back home. Exhausted.
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!