WHEN NAZI PIGS FLY
06 September 2017, Pepino
I’m painting Porky Pig, the animated swine from the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. In my practice painting means reading, too. A lot of reading. If I paint a pig, I must know everything about pigs, I must eat pigs, I must eat like a pig and I must think like a pig.
Riot squad, bash their heads
Kick their ass until they're dead
I want to be a fascist pig
I'd rather be a pig than a fascist.
In the West pigs are seen filthy and they symbolize gluttony. In the Middle East hogs are totally non-kosher and haram. In Buddhism, the animal is located in the center of the wheel of existence and represents ignorance - one of the three illusions that prevent a person to arrive at the fullness of life. Some pigs reach their goals - In Orwell’s Animal Farm it’s Comrade Napoleon who deceives the other animals and becomes a ruthless dictator.
After the Christians reconquered the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish Inquisition investigated and punished converted Jews and Muslims thought to be insincere. One of the proofs was not to have any jamón and chorizo in the pantry. Good (and wealthy) Christians ate lots of pork. It’s interesting that something filthy became a symbol of pure faith. Pig can be related even to Satan because of its footprints resemble marks of the Devil. Europeans see demons and infidels everywhere but maybe it’s just a problem of sight - My Arab Muslim friend says it’s because ham har(a)ms your eyes. She has observed that Europeans wear more often glasses than Arabs. Spectacles were invented in the Christian Europe but based on the research of the medieval Arab scholar Ibn al-Haytham.
However, everybody doesn’t see red in pigs. The Chinese appreciate them highly, and not only in a hotpot. Pigs represent good luck and fortune. It’s the last animal of the zodiac cycle, the embodiment of integrity. In the famous Mind Dynasty novel Journey to the West Zhu Baije, an antihero partly human, partly pig, is edacious, lazy and lustful but also tolerant, optimistic and soft-hearted. The adventurer uses a nine-toothed rake to kill demons. Originally he was a commander-in-chief of a heavenly army but for his drunken attempt to seduce Chang-e, goddess of the Moon, he is sentenced to a thousand lives where each life would end in a love tragedy.
The pig represents wealth in China and Chinese communists think that getting rich is glorious (Deng Xiaoping is commonly quoted with this phrase in western media but there is no proof that he actually said it, maybe it was after all Comrade Napoleon). They can’t use pig as an insult which is common among European communists. Revolutionaries use the offence in reference to the police but also as imperialist pigs, capitalist pigs or fascist pigs.
In the book Fascist Pigs Tiago Saraiva, professor of History at Drexel University, shows how pigs became important elements in the institutionalization and expansion of fascist regimes in Europe. The pigs that didn’t efficiently convert German-grown potatoes into pork and lard were eliminated. The capitalist democracy won the war and now we have Enviropig which is the trademark for a genetically modified line of Yorkshire pigs, with the capability to digest plant phosphorus more efficiently than conventional unmodified Nazi pigs.
In the 1976 British film The Eagle Has Landed an Irish secret agent working for the Nazis replies to a German general speaking of Germany's shortly winning the war "Pigs may fly, General, but I doubt it!" Later, when the Irishman sees German soldiers parachuting before an attack, he says to himself, "Mother of God! Flying pigs!”
Th-th-th-that's all folks, stutters Porky.
ART IS MAGIC DELIVERED FROM THE LIE
22 August 2017, Pepino
Finally, the vacation is over. Goodbye, beach! Hello, studio! The return to the studio is always challenging after a long break but this time I still remembered how to paint. It was a good idea to begin a painting before the time off. Now I just continued Pinocchio lying about our economic and political system. It's the same image I painted last year on the wall of Bury Art Museum for my show The ABC of Capitalism - my kids say that I have no imagination when I repeat pictures.
My daughter says that the next painting should be Ladybug, from the French animated series Miraculous: Les aventures de Ladybug et Chat Noir. It's maho shojo, which is a subgenre of fantasy anime featuring girls who use magic.
Art is magic delivered from the lie being truth, wrote Adorno.
03 August 2017, Pepino
The best thing for a Spanish resident in the Finnish summer is its cool temperature. Apart from that we had some hotter experiences during the vacation.
We visited the legendary sculptor Ossi Somma in his sculpture park, which is an infernal forest full of horrors of this world. It made me think what the Lebanese artist Zena el-Khalil said once: We are the condemned souls living in the hell. A powerful trip shadowed only by the artist's worry about the future of the installation - he is already over 90 years old.
St. Olavi Church, a late medieval stone temple. It was burnt down by a burglar twenty years ago and rebuilt back to its splendor including murals by Kuutti Lavonen and Osmo Rauhala. As a fundamentalst atheist I dislike churches and I've always considered these two artists tacky, but the combination was mind-blowingly beautiful. I must accept that I don't always disagree with the hype.
A dinner in Kirkuk at Puhos sjopping centre. Again a great architectural experience. Nothing to do with the contemporary malls that represent the worst of the humanity and our societies. The owners want to demolish the decayed Puhos but at the moment it's a thriving agora catering for people with roots in Africa and Western Asia. Kirkuk serves delicious Turkish food for a ridiculously low prices. I'd give them right away some stars of any tyre manufacturer.
Kozeen Shiwan's dinner performace at Design Museum. The chef proclaimed himself artist and showcases an amazing meal in a museum. Finally food what is not aimed to please the eaters but make them think. I'm writing an article about this.
MASTERING THE SEMESTER
06 July 2017, Pepino
Soon I'm going to make a two-week vacation and I think I deserve it. The first half of this year has been productive. I've done three solo shows: Closing Borders at Serlachius Museums (the most important of my exhibitions till date), White Trash Blues at Galerie Forsblom (my biggest painting show until now) and My Austrian Friends at Collectors Agenda (an improvised small show). The museum show included also a hard-cover book which needed lots of editing work during the spring.
After the big shows in the beginning of the year, I felt totally empty and exhausted but got soon back to the studio. I've done a series of 40 pink monochrome paintings, six figurative paintings, two big works on paper and 22 A4 size drawings.
Now I'm going to begin one more large painting and next week I'm off to Finland with the family. I'll try to stay sane for a couple of weeks without working. It's challenging.
CARE BEAR APPROPRIATION
20 June 2017, Pepino
I know that some people will get their boxers in a bunch for my drawing My Favorite Gay Tribes and Styles. Speaking about cultures that one doesn’t belong in is criminalized as cultural misappropriation. However, I refuse to do art exclusively about straight white middle-aged middle-class Western European men - I’m a bit more ambitious in my practice. My oeuvre is a compendium of all my knowledge and nightmares, a turbo realist picture of the world, an archive of our time for the future generations. Art must be irreverent, obnoxious, and contentious. I respond only to the Art History.