URBAN ART ICONS, CHAPTER II

Within the exhibition "Urban Art Icons", we approach today the work of Faile, Perishable Rush, Mr Brainwash and Okuda San Miguel. These artists offer a particular vision of the referents of our environment, by setting multidisciplinary works that feed on different styles and aesthetics. An example of the fusion capacity of this artistic language that puts in common colour, Pop Art and graffiti.

FAILE

The phonetics of the name "FAIL" should not lead us to wrong ideas about the impulse that drives these artists who hide behind that pseudonym: Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller. Both settled in Brooklyn, their collaborative work is characterized by the appropriation of iconic elements of our society and their multidisciplinary reinterpretation, using techniques that draw on collage, the aesthetics of the comic and the colour palette of the late 80's. In their work, there is a clear evolution towards more ambitious projects connected to the urban space. They have worked more plastic proposals, risking with the choice of supports (works on wood, boxes of packaging, construction pallets ...), as well as materials more adapted to the market demand, in which to put into practice their expertise as teachers of the printing and work with ink.

These characteristic features are evident in works like "NYC You and Me" or "Subway tags", where the presence of the comic as an aesthetic reference is very intense. In their artworks, there is no shortage of written messages and self-references. In fact, much of the meaning of their proposals is concentrated in the texts and phrases incorporated into the works. Some of their most recent interventions "Temple" in Lisbon, where an old ruined church was invaded with maxims of social denunciation, and other public works commissioned that came next, as "The Wolf Within" in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) or "Les Ballets", at Lincoln Center in New York. In the last five years, they have made numerous exhibitions in galleries, with work formats adapted to other dimensions, while reserving the large installations for the public space.

Faile

Palette NYC You and Me, 2014

Acrylic and ink on wood and steel frame

51 x 30cm

Faile

Palette Subway tags, 2014

Acrylic and ink on wood and steel frame

25.5 x 30cm

Faile

Palette Going bach to Dallas, 2014

Acrylic and ink on wood and steel frame

51 x 30cm

PERISHABLE RUSH

The most recurrent themes in the work of Perishable Rush have to do with banality, aggression, war, anonymity, commerce and the vulgarity of current media. Rush uses in his collages images of comics, photography, advertisements and slogans, which he transforms to generate new images and meanings, representing this way his own reality.

The work by this Dutch urban artist is basically composed of two conceptual typologies: "The Ski Masks with Urban Camouflage", pieces that he builds from pieces of paper that the artist finds in the streets of Amsterdam and that he mixes with silkscreens, magazines and comics. In the silhouette of a ski mask, these fragments stick together setting up a pattern of urban camouflage. The ski masks symbolise the current struggles around the world, and in his portraits, Perishable Rush represents, in a simplified way through lines and on a background composed of scratched silkscreens, personal heroes and famous personalities from the world of art, music and the cinema.

Perishable Rush

Miss Barcelona, 2016

Mixed media

175 x 175cm

Perishable Rush

Rusty Girl, 2015

Mixed media

59.5 x 42.5cm

Perishable Rush

Broken Star, 2016

Mixed media

118.5 x 84.5cm

MR BRAINWASH

Thierry Guetta, the artist who hides behind the pseudonym Mr Brainwash, owes much of his fame to another of the greats of urban art, Banksy. After having starred in the fake documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop", a feature film directed by the British artist who narrates a very personalist vision of the evolution of Pop Art and street art in the contemporary sphere, Thierry leapt to the world of creation. This collaboration was the beginning of an intense creative project with which Mr Brainwash, a sort of spin-off of this documentary, was born as an artist.

His work brings together many references of our consumer society, particularly known in the North American market, with which he reinterprets some of the great artistic styles of the last decades of the 20th century. An updated review of the most classic Pop Art fused with mural painting in its most expressionistic side. The unmistakable icons that one day made history with the transgressive proposals of Warhol, in pieces like "Diamond Girl Gold" or "Tomato Spray", coexist with works in which homage is paid to the artists who serve him as a reference, like in "Andy Warhol" or "Samo is Alive". A conscious building up of the artistic myth, the meta-creation of referents, the art within the art over the most genuine pollockian graffiti of Basquiat.

Mr. Brainwash

Tomato Spray, 2016

Mixed media on paper

127 x 96cm

Mr. Brainwash

Tomato Soup, 2017

Mixed media on recycled cardboard

102 x 60cm

OKUDA SAN MIGUEL

The Urban work of Okuda San Miguel is characterized by its multicoloured geometric graphics, it reflects on existentialism, anti-capitalism, environmental destruction, loneliness and false happiness. In the iconographic language of Okuda, we find symbols, headless figures, grey bodies, animals and giant heads. Pop art, cinema, fashion, and the light and colour of other cultures are a source of inspiration both in their street interventions and in their studio works. Its polyhedral structures (circles, triangles and rhombuses), present in works such as "Refugee 18 IV" or "Women of the World" combined with a strong polychromy, make Okuda's work can be classified within pop surrealism.

The multidisciplinary production of Okuda goes from the wall, the canvas and the sculpture to the embroidery, invites the viewer to rethink some issues such as the false freedom of capitalism or the meaning of life. His colourful work has crossed the Spanish borders and many cities have murals, buildings and intervened buildings signed by this spray master, from the United States to Morocco, Taiwan, Italy or France.

Okuda San Miguel

Window Eye, 2018

Synthetic enamel on wood

40 x 40cm

|354:150

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.