CURRENT VISIONS OF POP CULTURE
Feb 12, 2019
Hispánica Contemporánea, Barrou Planquart, 3 punts and Norty Galleries
It is well known that since the mid-twentieth century, a large group of British and American artists responded to the gravitas and authority of Abstract Expressionism, so clinging to the trauma of World War II, with a totally opposite type of art: Pop art. The same happened in the national context because the transcendental shapes of Informalism would give way to the most vital expressions of the “narrative figuration” movement. This is how new iconographies and languages emerged from the mass media, the "pop culture" and the thriving consumer society, particularly figurative and characterized by the intensity of colour.
Although more playful and often only focused on the representation of a specific aesthetic, many of the pop works also had a critical intention and, perhaps, this is one of the most defining features of the Pop art continuing movements. From the neo-pop of the eighties until the present time, many contemporary artists continue to expand this path opened by Richard Hamilton, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg, among many others.
An excellent representation of contemporary Pop art can be found in the space that Art Madrid will have in the Hispánica Contemporánea Gallery (Madrid-Mexico City). Within its broad proposal, the following stand out: North American artists or creators based in the United States, many of them consolidated such as Mel Bochner, of whom the gallery will exhibit a selection of famous monotypes made from collage, stamping and the relief, from which the artist continues to send powerful messages from the vigour of the word, its typography and the contrast of colour. The works by Paul Rousso are still impressive creations; the artist who, through his particular technique "Flat Depth" -based on different tamperings and techniques with which two-dimensional objects acquire three-dimensions-, will once again show the sensuality of the wrinkled and oversized waste, the visual strength that can exist in any depreciated magazine, ticket or package.
You can also enjoy the immense sweets of Peter Anton or celebrate life with the latest works by the popular Mr.Brainwash (Thierry Guetta), whose enthusiastic motto is "life is beautiful". Elevated to fame for his starring role in the fake (or not) documentary led by Banksy, "Exit through the Gift Shop" (2010), Guetta continues using appropriation, graffiti and icon or "celebrity" character to send good vibrations. Much more critical and satirical is the work of Fidia Falaschetti, an artist who literally dismantles popular characters and objects inviting us to rethink our consumption habits, those so close to a kind of naturalized schizophrenia.
Hispánica will also present pieces from the great Manolo Valdés, who since 1964, as a member of El Equipo Crónica, stood out for his most critical and ludic pop art, always specialized in the Spanish painting masters. Also, the gallery will present the mysterious sculptures by Xavier Mascaró; the geometric and vital pieces by Rafael Barrios; or the magnificent works by Hugo Fontela, made with a marked personality and surprising sensibility.
Very pop and more urban is the selection of the gallery directed by Virginie Barrou Planquart (Montlignon), very interested in spreading a "positive aesthetic". From François Bel you can see some of his striking "Big Bangs", daydreams characteristic of our current way of life, so individualistic and materialistic, frozen in movement inside synthetic glass urns. Industrial materials also stand out in the works of Grégory Watin, created from a more urban and gestural point of view.
Graffiti, photography and collage dominate Jo Di Bona's works, a renowned urban artist who is presented as a "Fauvist of modern times". Finally, the Barrou Planquart selection closes with works by the designer Stéphane Gautier in which he appropriates the imaginary and childish codes to convey positive messages but not without some reflection on advertising strategies.
In the wide range of the gallery 3 punts (Barcelona) you will discover a variety of languages and techniques that could be linked to Pop Art. From the revival of the more eighties Neo-pop starring iconic characters behind colourful backgrounds, Silvio Alino, to the multicoloured iconography so characteristic of Okuda San Miguel, Guest Artist of the last edition of Art Madrid. Popular culture or daily life also star in the surprising pieces by Nick Veasey, a pioneer in risky creation through x rays; as well as the appropriations of everyday objects made by Alejandro Monge, a well-known artist at Art Madrid for his provocative and critical accumulations of money bills.
Some of the realistic sculptures of the expert Gerard Mas although maybe not so at first glance, give a feeling of urban or pop art. From Renaissance ladies turned call center ladies, rats or dogs on pedestals to sheep sheared in a capricious way in order to pay homage to Malevich. Two other masters of sculpture are Samuel Salcedo, whose resin sculptures impress both for their hyperrealism and for their message; and Kiko Miyares, an artist also focused on the representation, and deformation, of the human figure through woodwork. And if we continue discussing master’s technique, Ramon Surinyac also stands out in the pictorial field throw his beautiful landscapes.
In the Norty Gallery (Carrières-sur-Seine) the most pop proposal comes from L'homme Jaune (Yasser Ameur) and his simple but transgressive designs, such as "Syria" (2017), "Ceci est une fontaine 2" (2017) or "Connected people" (2017). Especially unsettling is the rest of the selection, more related to "raw expressionism". Inside its stand, the disturbing and attractive, sculptures, born from the imagination of Pierre Sgamma will be presented; also the paintings of Adlane Samet, who defines himself as a "painter of the moment". Closer to Art Brut, Samet's work impacts equally as much for its expressive and personal language, as for its narrative, mostly dark and cryptic.
The work by Jean-Pierre Ruel also sends a certain restlessness, starring lonely and mysterious characters framed in gloomy scenarios. Norty's selection closes with the colouring contrast of the paintings by Rusudan Khizanishvili, author of compositions closer to abstraction in which, nevertheless, the figurative referent is never forgotten. The intelligent use of colour gives the overlapping forms a great emotional and enigmatic charge, enhancing the complex and fantastic ideology of the artist.
In short, a set of singular works, very different pieces in their expression forms, but in which, in one way or another, the limits of contemporary art are renewed and extended.