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.
Thursday, April 6
Saturday, April 1
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.
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.
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.
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
Sunday, June 15
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.