This painting is the result of a collaboration with Cristina Blanch https://www.instagram.com/cristinablanch_art/. It is the first painting we've collaborated on together and using Vigeé Le Brun, the 18th French portrait painter portraits as a starting point.
Cristina, a phenomenally talented painter at work on another collaborative work
LOVE´S NOT LOVE, title of the exhibition at Atelier Cora Eggers, June 6, 2019, Barcelona. Deals loosley with the theme of love in some of its aspects: carnal love, lost love, promised love; and the related theme of power and morbidity.
''Gnome BBQ Deer'' Elf is BBQing a steak. The steak represents both present and future. The future is the deer. We are all elves unconsciously consuming the world and leaving nothing in its place. 200 × 150 cm 79 × 59'' painted drawing on paper, 2019
This is the first rastered gnome I painted based on an animated Once pixel board ad here in Barcelona (Once is an association for the blind in Spain). I was taken by the gnome which in the ad was really an elf, one of Santa's helpers, for a Xmas promotion to by lottery tickets. I'd see the pixel board everyday on the Ferrocarril (commuter train). I had to paint it. It took me like 20 years to get it right.
200 x 150 cm 79 x 59'' painted drawing on paper, 2019
Same series of paintings here with rabbit and cottage. Rabbits are a constant theme and I wanted a narrative using a cottage. This series of works was a return to "narrative painting" for me and the seed of the work I am doing now. 60 x 40 cm, mixed media.
When I moved to NY in 1997 I decided to change my work. Since I had decided to change my life, the change in my painting seemed logical. The move was quite radical and I started from zero in NY. I was quite well set-up in Barcelona and very comfortable there when I left. NY was necessary to start fresh and leave the pop images behind and just concentrate on painting what I loved, which was abstraction. That work culminated in a show in Barcelona at Galeria Victor Saavedra in 2000, where I showed these and other works. Sometimes you do what you think you should do rather than being true to yourself and what feels right. Although I love abstraction, I couldn't get it right. I was always feeling like something was missing. And it was. It was the narrative, the irony, the imagery.
This is work from around 1995. I used to go to this junk store around the corner from my studio in the Raval, which was called the Barrio Chino back then, but now they (El Ayuntamiento, ie. City Hall) have sanitized both name and hood after tearing-down the worst parts of the neighborhood and eliminating a lot of the marginal activities like prostitution, drug dealing and whatever else. That still goes on, but it is nothing like it was. Anyways, I'd go to this junk shop around the corner when I was stuck in the studio and I would find curious stuff, like old photos, figurines, etc. I found this cheesy cast figure of an angel with a movable head that I painted and these are the outcome. The painting with the male figure is Brains from the Thunderbirds, which was another series of paintings I did but fits with this theme. All these paintings are 230 x 170cm. I believe one of these paintings was shown at Galleria Tomas Carsten in Barcelona in 1995 -- the angel with the turquoise background. The three works are in private collections in Barcelona.
When I moved to Barcelona in 1988, the city was a very out-of-the-way-place. An alternative, unknown quantity, very authentic, and for me quite exotic in its authenticity. I came from Toronto, an anodyne and pale landscape, and no real painting going on. I felt like the good painting was going on elsewhere. I knew instinctively even before coming to Barcelona that there was nothing going on as far as visual art. Well, there were things going on but they definitely weren't very interesting as far as painting, or seeing paintings, or finding good galleries was concerned. A lack of solidarity between artists and few collectors meant everyone starved or fought for the small slice of something that was there. That was fine for me. Sailor bars, junkies, and locals. Real stuff in your face. That was inspiring if not disturbing. I developed my work and isolate myself from my surroundings. One of the things that grabbed my eye was the comic book "Mortadelo and Filemon", quintessentially Spanish, and for me very interesting visually to look at. I wandered around my neighborhood, looking at stuff. It wasn't the comic parse that I liked, but the covers, which were well displayed in the kiosks on the Ramblas. That was a continuous presence and something very native and pop. The more I looked at it the more I wanted to paint the frenetic warped surreal scenes and the bright, garish colors. I did end up painting Mortadelo and Filemon. Well, just Mortadelo -- 230 x 170 cm size in oil. At the time, 1988-94, there were some good painting shows passing through Barcelona. Bits and bobs at the Caixa Forum. Really some great shows: Howard Hodgkin, the German painters like Keifer, Ed Ruscha, Sigmar Polke and others. The two paintings in the photo are installation shots from the show I did at the now defunct Carles Poy Gallery in 1993, in Barcelona.