Thursday, April 6


Studio view summer/autumn of 2019.  Introducing color again.
I have a thing about frames. Frames in a frame. Centering an image. Making the composition as simple as possible. These were the first that I painted in this paper format. 



In 1997, after being in Barcelona for almost 9 years and having showed in a bunch of galleries like Galería Carles Poy, Galería Thomas Carson's, La Central de Energía, Lino Silverstein and in Juana de Izpuru in Madrid, it was time to leave and go to NY. This is my first studio I had in Brooklyn, NY, which I shared with Yun Fei Gi, a fabulous painter in his own right. It was on north 3rd and Wythe, in a huge building full of artists which eventually became condos and all the artists were chucked out. My part of the studio space was probably 125 sq. ft and it was affordable. I was paying $350. Those days are long gone. I really liked the Cobi t-shirt by Mariscal, a Barcelona designer, from 1982. Cobi was the Olympic Games mascot.

Pokey Paintings and the Kid with Moxie

Back in Barcelona, I continued on a long journey in abstraction. I love abstraction. And down the rabbit hole I went. I was caught up in gestural marks. At first working in oil paint, and when I no longer could, I started using Flashe paint thinking it could be an oil paint substitute. Wrong! It culminated in a series of small, intimate works.  A few of the pieces I showed at an alternative art fair to Frieze, in London, called Pilot II in 2005. It was organized by Rory Macbeth, a good friend and a brilliant painter and artist in his own right. 
I thought the work from this series in general was pretty anal, and I started back into figuration and gave up on the pokey abstract work. The real abstract painter who had the moxie was my 3-year-old son. Not me. Check out the video below. 
Unfortunately, he stopped drawing on the walls after about 6 months and never returned to painting or drawing again. 

Saturday, April 1


Bunny portraits are an installation shot from an expo at Galería Carles Poy, Barcelona in 1993.  The two painting below are 230 × 175 cm of the Psyco-cosmic - bunny series that I did afterward. I showed the one with the bluish ground at Kiku Mistu Centro del Arte, Barcelona in 1996. The cosmic bunnies were a culmination of the pop work I developed in Barcelona from 1988 to 97, before I left for NY. 

Exterminating Angels

Paintings from around 1995. I used to go to a junk store around the corner from my studio in the Raval, which was called the Barrio Chino back then. City Hall (El Ayuntamiento) had tried to sanitize both name and hood after tearing-down the worst parts of the neighborhood and partially eliminating a lot of the marginal activities like prostitution and drug dealing. That still goes on, but it is nothing like it was. Anyway, I'd go to a junk shop around the corner when I was stuck in the studio and I would find stuff, like old photos and figurines. I found this cheesy kitsch cast figure of an angel with a movable head. These are the result. Exterminating Angels. The painting with the male figure is Brains from the Thunderbirds, which fits with this theme.
All these paintings are 230 x170 cm. I believe one of these paintings was shown at Galería Thomas Carsten in Barcelona in 1995—the angel with the turquoise background.

Galería Carles Poy

Installation shot, street view, at Galería Carles Poy, 1993. Wandering on the Ramblas, “Mortadelo and Filemon” comics jumped out at me. The creation of the Barcelona artist Ibañez, every kid in Spain grew up reading them.

After moving to Barcelona and finding my present studio live workspace a year later, Carles Poy opened his gallery just literally around the corner on Carrer Jupí. Discovering him around the corner and still being a bit disoriented after being here less than a year was a bit strange. The gallery was an intimate ground floor space with an upstairs mezzanine. He was amongst a group of young gallery owners who were betting on young upcoming artists. There were the Alcolea Brothers, who had Lino Silverstein in El Born which lasted a year and then their main galleries uptown, both brothers having a gallery each. There was Galería Benet Costa, Toni Bernini Gallery, Galería Thomas Carslens, and Metrònom, an incredible space in El borne. The art market boom in the 80s in New York and particularly in painting was the driving force for all these new young galleries betting on young artists in Barcelona. But, Barcelona doesn't and didn't have a very strong collector base. The collectors that did buy tended to buy very conservatively, and those who did buy work by younger emerging artists in terms of important collectors were very few.  It was an exciting time in Barcelona with a lot of young artists coming up and showing. Space was cheap, and all kinds of things were happening. The Contemporary Art Museum was built and everything seemed to be promising. But the art market crashed big time in the early 90s, and all these new galleries closed for one reason or another.  The Museum of Contemporary Art Barcelona, MACBA, recently finished, a big white thing by Richard Meyer, turned out to be a disappointment. It was underfunded from day one. Ham strung by budgetary constraints.

Installation view. Bunny painting. Galería Carles Poy, Barcelona, 1993.
Two Cowboys. Installation shot at Galería Lino Silverstein, 1990. This gallery lasted about a year.  Owned by Fernando Alcolea, he showed a number of high profile New York artists, probably the best known was Donald Baechler. They had some excellent shows there. I've always been interested in detritus, and these images were from a bow and arrow set which I found on the street on Carrer Escudiers. These were some of the first paintings I did after moving into a great live work studio set up.

Mortadelo and Filemon

When I moved to Barcelona in 1988, the city was a very out-of-the-way-place. An alternative, unknown quantity, and for me quite exotic in its authenticity. I came from Toronto, an anodyne and pale landscape, and no real important painting going on. I felt like the good painting was going on elsewhere.  Anywhere else than in Canada.

I knew instinctively even before coming to Barcelona that there wasn't a lot going on as far as visual art. Well, there were things going on but they definitely weren't that interesting as far as painting, or seeing paintings, or finding good galleries was concerned. I had moved from one bad painting town to another. A lack of solidarity between artists and few collectors meant everyone starved and fought for the small slice of something that was there. I wasn't part of that, which was fine for me. I was more interested in the sailor bars, junkies, and locals. That was inspiring, if not disturbing. I developed my work and isolated 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 captivating visually to look at. 

I wandered around my neighborhood, looking at stuff. It wasn't the “Mortadello y Filemon” comic parse that I liked, but the colorful zany 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. Sometimes just Mortadelo -- 230 × 170 cm size in oil. 
At the time, 1988-96, there were some good painting shows passing through Barcelona. Bits and bobs at the Caixa Forum.  Really some great shows: Howard Hodgkin, Ed Ruscha, Bruce Nauman, the German painters like Keifer and Sigmar Polke and others.  The two paintings in the photo are installation shots from the now defunct Galería Carles Poy in 1993, in Barcelona. 

Monday, June 16

Going Abstract

I moved to NY in 1997, and 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. New life in NY, it seemed necessary to start fresh and leave the pop images behind and just concentrate on painting what I loved, which was abstraction. While I was still working in oil paint, that work culminated in a show in Barcelona at Galería Victor Saavedra in 2000, where I showed these and other works. Sometimes you do what you think you should do rather than doing what you feel you need to do.  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.

Sunday, June 15

A FOR-REAL Painter -- the real MacCoy Rory MacBeth

2 very different paintings by the same artist Rory MacBeth. Although they deal with the same issue of authenticity and originality.
This image is of one of his amazing paintings. And it is a painting, not a piece of sterling board, although you wouldn't know it. A real challenge to our notion of reality as it is perceived, and to our expectations of how things really are and not how they just appear to be.

Rory Macbeth was once a Street Painter. We met in Barcelona in 1988. A phenomenal painter, and phenomenally talented. Now he shows all over the place aside from having been one of the organizers of Pilot, in London, an archive and showcase of unrepresented artists.

Gratutious Street Agit-Prop Posters

This is the first poster in a series of 3 street posters, A2 size, that I did and were pasted-up in the autumn of '95 in Barcelona. It depicts a woman in leathers (S+M) painting a fellatio. It says: “Being an Artist is Easy… Intensive 3-week courses….Pastiching…all graduates will show in the most prestigious galleries… collectors to buy your work…learn to paint like Tapies, Picasso….Salon Autónimo de Barcelona, Riereta 10" (which was the actual address of my studio) and there were people actually coming by inquiring about taking classes.  Which astounded me. I did these posters as I was quite fed-up with Barcelona art scene. I moved two years later to New York.

2nd Installment of Gratuitous Street Posters

This is the 2nd street poster A2 size (40 x 58 cm) 16 x 2’’ that went up on the streets in Barcelona in the autumn of '95. It says “You are a Wanker, and you're not alone either --¡Yes Yes!.....Salon Autónimo of Barcelona”. Depicting Dopey (of the 7 Dwarfs) jerking off onto what looks like a Tapiés painting. 
3rd installment which never got printed. It depicts the folkloric “caganet”, the crapping man, the traditional crèche figure which Catalans like to adorn their Christmas Nativity Scenes with. So I made him crapping out a painting instead of, well, crap. Fecundity is creation. It says, “I don't paint my paintings anymore. I crap them out—that way I can produce more art and produce it faster—Barcelona, Autonomous Salon "

At that time, the media, and government institutions were referring to “artists” as young creators. This was a way to deflect the “art” debate by changing its name in an attempt to create an art scene. There was a huge concern in general that local artists weren't getting any attention. Neither by collectors in Barcelona, museums, or internationally. But no one seemed to ask if they, the artists, whoever they were, that nefarious group of creators, deserved any attention at all, which they probably didn't. Whining artists that no one cared about anyway. The other side of the coin was this: if the people who were worried about artist activity had any idea of what they were talking about, which they didn't, then maybe they'd realize that what creates an art scene is first taste, then money, but not talk. But in the end, Barcelona was put on the map because of the Olympics in 1992. Now it is overrun by tourists.