STREET ART, POP SURREALISM, POST GRAFITI... FROM THE STREET TO THE GALLERY

Mr. Brainwash, “Andy Warhol”, mixed technique on cardboard, 2016.

 

 

 

The street is a space of freedom, a territory of aesthetic creation and a channel of expression, on the other hand, the objects of consumption and the waste products of our hyperconnected society are tools of communication, protest, criticism, irony ... The Kreisler Gallery is a good example of this adaptation to new ways of doing art. Founded in Madrid in 1965, it opened spaces in New York (1970-1975), Barcelona (1979-2002) and Miami (1993-1995) to be aware of interesting movements in great art capitals and, today, with more than 50 years, it is a benchmark for its eclecticism, its rigor and its openness to contemporary street and urban art.

 

Kreisler has managed to make his story and his spectacular fund of consecrated artists (Miró, Tapies, Picasso, Joseph Beuys ...) live with the creations of the new artists. Okuda San Miguel is one of these new talents, an artist whose style was born in abandoned factories of Cantabria within the purest street art and is now absolutely recognizable worldwide and can be seen in the streets (and in the galleries) of all over the world. He says that he is a contemporary Renaissance admirer of El Bosco and that in his works (from murals of large dimensions to small embroidered pieces) he raises contradictions about the meaning of life and the conflict between modernity and our roots.

 

 

 

Spok Brillor, “K”, neon, 2017.

 

 

 

Spok Brillor is one of the most relevant figures of the graffiti scene in Spain. In the 90s he painted on trains and walls in Madrid where he acquired his own style with marked contours, brightness and light effects, saturated and vibrant color that maintains today in his pieces, urban atmospheres, almost psychedelic, in which mirages and surreal elements speak to us, among other things, about the influence of new technologies in art and the digital manipulation of images. He uses both figurative language and abstraction but always keeps the fantasy and humor as essential ingredients.

 

 

 

Mark Jenkins, “Boyz 2 Men”, mixed technique, 2017.

 

 

 

Another gallery that has incorporated the urban spirit into its fund is the Catalan 3Punts, putting into practice one of its founding principles that ensures that "art galleries are a dynamic element of the cultural scene of both our city and globally" and, as dynamisers, they must be up-to-date about emerging art and new trends. And they do it looking for excellence in any discipline. In this sense it must be enlighted the work of Alejandro Monge (Zaragoza), a sculptor by vocation but with a creative freedom that has led him to develop in a prodigious way the painting and drawing, that rubs hyperrealism, and that he mixes with graffiti, classical sculpture and pop art to result in pieces charged with social criticism. In alabaster, lacquered steel, porcelain, resins, in large canvases, his work is based on the contrast.

 

But if there is a graffiti artist famous for breaking the wall (and in a more than profitable way) between the streets and the galleries, he is the English Banksy, and if there is someone who received his blessings in the StreetArt circuit of Los Angeles that is Mr Brainwash (Thierry Guetta), star of the movie "Exit through the gift shop" - directed by Banksy himself and with footage of Guetta himself - and another one of the urban artists that brings the 3Punts gallery to Art Madrid. Thierry Guetta, of French origin, fell in love with street art through his cousin Space Invader and decided to film with his camera this cultural movement to which he ended up surrendered, already as an artist, supported by figures such as Shepard Fairey and protected by the commissions of the Hollywood jet set. According to him, his works, pure repetition and pop referents, "wash your brain".

 

 

 

Joaquín Lalanne, “Seguimos pintando”, oil on canvas, 2017.

 

 

 

Joaquín Lalanne (Argentina), in Art Madrid with the gallery Zielinsky (Barcelona), is also very influenced by pop and street art and he is ascribed to a surrealist style in which he links with Giorgio de Chirico and the Baroque, with a constant vindication: art as a space of freedom. With an almost Dalinian gaze and a lot of metaphysics, there are those who already speak of "Lalannism" and of Joaquín as a "young promise whose art is splendid and in which we must insist already" (Tomás Paredes, for La Vanguardia).

 

 

 

Paul Rousso, “Monopoly money composition”, mixed technique, 2017.

 

 

 

The gallery Hispánica (Madrid), for its part, offers us the great pop formats of Paul Rousso, an innovative American artist who creates volumes from a flat surface, what the artist calls "Flat Depth" and for which he uses complex artistic techniques as painting, printing, sculpture, digital manipulation and digital printing. Rousso takes pop culture and its contradictions and uses the act of discarding elements such as money, candy wrappers and magazine pages, then expand its size to unusual dimensions and create a metaphysical and ironic paradox.
 

Buying the first work of art always instils respect. A difficult feeling to define that mixes vertigo with adrenaline. But over uncertainty and caution, a pleasurable sense of connection, understanding, and desire prevails. That work that, once seen, stays in the mind, reappears in the memory several times a day and seems to tell you that it is willing to be part of your home, is the perfect candidate to make the decision.

In the first steps, many collectors do point out that one does not start from an established plan, but rather that one acquires pieces based on taste and the connection one feels with them until, after time, they realise that the volume of works that accumulates can be labelled as a "collection". For example, this is how Alicia Aza explains it:

“I was not aware that I was collecting until many years later when a third party named me as a collector and talked about my collection. In 2005, I became aware of what collecting means and decided to articulate a collection with an identity of criteria and formats”.

Marcos Martín Blanco, co-founder, with his wife Elena Rueda, of the MER Collection, shares this same opinion:

“Collecting has been a passion, driven by a visceral state that encourages you to do so. The collection, in terms of acquisitions, has not been particularly complicated because, let's face it: it is easy to buy because they are all beautiful things and you have some clear idea of where you want to go, but at first those preferences were not so clear. It is with the time that a criterion is being formed”.

It is not always this way, of course, but for the buyer who starts out on this path, the personal connection that entails the first piece is essential. There it is the germ of a lasting relationship that is not limited to a simple aesthetic question but is an open window to knowledge, to exploration, to a world that is often unknown to us and awakens our fascination. The seed of that connection is purely sentimental, and it is precisely this impulse that determines the first acquisitions. The first piece is never forgotten.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Ana Maqueda

Exceeding the usual recommendations made by advisers and agents, rare is the occasion when the art lover decides to buy by pure investment. These paths usually open later, when the volume of pieces is large enough. In addition, there are those who are a bit against this classic concept of the traditional collector, approached from an eccentric, elitist and little accessible vision. On the contrary, art buyers are, above all, art lovers, sentient beings and permeable to creative stimulus who, at a given moment, decide to deepen the relationship they already have with art to take a piece home.

It is not that hard to overcome that small psychological barrier that turns the visitor into a buyer if one approaches the matter from a more personal and intimate perspective than from social consideration. Small-format works, graphic work or serial photography are of great help for this, whose price range, generally more affordable, allows a closer comparison to the daily basis expenses. In this way, the purchase of art falls within the range of feasible activities and becomes something close and possible.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Marc Cisneros

At that moment, a different relationship with art begins, based on pure experience and coexistence with the acquired piece. Perhaps it can be seen as an act of daring, but on many occasions, it is more a matter of necessity and transformation. Collectors also agree that the acquisition of an artwork is an exercise on personal analysis and opening up to a new field of knowledge that was previously alien to us. Alicia Aza explains that the reason she acquired her first piece of video art, by Sergio Prego, is because she did not understand it and because she saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to self-improve. This open window to knowledge creates new connections and bonds with creators, as one of the most fascinating parts of the process. Candela Álvarez Soldevilla explains that

"I think the most interesting thing in the art world is talking to artists. They are people with a special sensitivity to listen and understand.”

And Alicia Aza also says:

"I can share the satisfaction of being able to count on many artists in my circle of close friends today, and that is a long way to go."

Thus, with works that seem acceptable within the horizon of expenses that each one considers affordable, it is easy to find a piece that catches us. Since then, our home also evolves into a space in which art has a permanent place and presence, and there is no doubt that this transforms us inside.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Henar Herguera

Jaime Sordo, owner of Los Bragales collection and founder of the 9915 Contemporary Art Collectors Association, has always defined his relationship with art as a true passion and a vital necessity. For buyers who start on this path, he has the following recommendation:

“It is an essential condition that they feel the need to live with their passion to enjoy the works. Another very important aspect is that before making decisions for purchases, they are informed, so it is necessary to read specialised newspapers and books, visit exhibitions and museums and a lot of contact with galleries, which is an important and very specific source of information of the artists they represent. Finally, the presence in national and international art fairs. All this generates information and training.”

Indeed, fairs have become a good place for discovery because they condense a wide offer and allow diverse and global contact in a concentrated way. For this reason, many new generation buyers start in the context of an event such as Art Madrid, whose closeness and quality constitute a unique opportunity to meet, soak up and feed the passion for art.

(*) quotes taken from various interviews published in public media between 2013 and 2019.