26 May 2013, Cervera de los Montes
I have now finished my biggest painting ever. The total size of the installed work is 450x200cm. The size of each part is 30x36cm. 57 Varieties consists of 57 different red monochromes with labels indicating the reference of each color ranging from food to politics and from commercial brands to fairy tails. 57 Varieties is a historical advertising slogan of Heinz, the world’s biggest ketchup producer. The catchphrase has come to mean anything that is comprised or mixed from a lot of parts or origins. None of the colors was mixed in the studio. They are all used as they are produced. The acrylic colors are artists’ materials and the enamels, the acrylic enamels and the spray paints are from a hardware store.
The items are (in alphabetical order): Blood, Camicie rosse, Campari, Cherry, Chili, China, Coca-Cola, Communism, Daredevil, Donald Duck’s Car, Ferrari, Fire Brigade, Johnnie Walker, Ketchup, Khmer Rouge, Lightning McQueen, Lipstick, The Little Red Book, Little Red Riding Hood, London Bus, Love, Manchester United, Marlboro, Mars, Meat, Moulin Rouge, Muleta, Ocean Spray, Republican Party, Red Alert, Red Army Faction, Red Baron, Red Bull, Red Card, Red Carpet, Red Cross, Red Herring, Red Lantern, Red Light District, Red Nose, Red Sea, Red Square, Red Star Belgrade, Redneck, Redskin, Ruby, Santa Claus, Snow White’s Apple, Social Democracy, Socialism, Soviet Union, Spanish Football Team, Strawberry, The Thin Red Line, Three Colors: Red, Tomate Frito, Wine
THE MISSION OF ART
21 May 2013, Cervera de los Montes
Jani and me have been working for the whole winter with Homelessness Fair which will be inaugurated next month at Hyvinkää Art Museum, Finland. For the catalog, published as a supplement of Iso Numero, the Finnish version of the Big Issue magazine, we wrote a short text about the event and the mission of art.
The Homelessness Fair is an antithesis to the coincidental Housing Fair in the same town. The latter is a superficial spectacle of construction techniques and decoration trends avoiding the social and political problematics of housing - which is the the focus of the Homelessness Fair.
We didn't want to organize a conventional exhibition but chose an approach that academic curators would hardly apply. We decided to invite different NGOs and institutions that work with homelessness to participate and leave the artists to the minority. Art is not in the artifacts but in the attitude with which things are presented and viewed. Art is not content or form, but an instrument to talk about the world.
The mission of art is to shake up the society and make it visible in a way that no other medium or institution can. Art must be questioning and discordant. At its best, art can deal with things faster, more boldly and more directly than journalism, politics or science. Art provides an arena with more freedom to discuss and act than other contexts of the society.
We hope that the Homelessness Fair won't remain merely an illustration of its theme but raises discussions and deeds. According to the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky art is not a mirror which reflects the world but a hammer with which it is molded.
A TRAVELING SALESMAN SURPRISE IN A MUSEUM
16 May 2013, Cervera de los Montes
A friend of mine visited the Aine Art Museum in Tornio, a small town in the Finnish Lapland, and sent me a photo of my screen print My Ideology Is As red As My Ferrari hanging in their collection display titled Fast and Furious. I had no idea that the museum's collection included any of my works.
I e-mailed to the museum director who explained that she had bought the work from a traveling salesman and thought that this dealer had informed me about the acquisition. I didn't even know that he had purchased my serigraphy prints from Persten Collection that published a series of them three years ago. I have never met or talked with the dealer who is really kind to drive to Lapland to sell art because there are no galleries in town according to the museum director.
I told her that it is a good art world practice to inform living artists when you buy and exhibit their work. They could have sent me for example an invitation card of the exhibition. Furthermore, I think that it should be the responsibility of museums to support artists and buy the works directly from them or the dealers that represent them - in this case Persten Collection - and not from the trunk of a traveling salesman.
Anyhow, this is great material for my big project of dystopic museums I'll show in another Finnish museum next year.
12 May 2013, Cervera de los Montes
I've been painting red, dreaming red and eating tomato sauce and strawberry smoothies for several weeks. Now all the 57 the monochromes have a red coating.
The next step is to write on them the texts from ketchup to Lightning McQueen and from Mao's Little Red Book to red herring. I have to send photos of the work to the Carnegie Art Award, a Nordic painting prize organized by a Swedish investment bank in two weeks. The problem is that I don't have a enough big wall in the studio. The solution is to photograph the parts one by one and my designer will construct the installation digitally. However, I think the photo can never transmit the intensity of the color. Now I begin to think like a modernist painter and not a revolutionary artists who instrumentalises art for politics. Did I sell my soul to a competition organized by bankers?
BLANK PAPER AND PAPER MONEY
07 May 2013, Cervera de los Montes
When I finish a drawing or a painting, I sign it on the verso. A visible signature on a work of art is tacky and old fashioned. However, in my recent action Riiko Sakkinen's Favorite Books the autograph played an important role - I signed and numbered 200 bank notes and hid them in the books of a public library. Now I’m planning new projects involving money - naturally not celebrating it but to destroy it.
Ernesto "Che" Guevara’s duty as the president of the national bank of Cuba was to sign the currency. Instead of using his full name, he signed the bills solely as Che. It was through this symbolic act, which horrified many in the Cuban financial sector, that Guevara made crystal clear his distaste for money. It was Che’s desire to see the complete elimination of money, interest, commodity production and the market economy. I agree totally with el comandante.
I’m also thinking about signing blank paper. Salvador Dalí, lying on his deathbed, is said to have signed, forced by his dealers, thousands of blank papers for fake lithographs. Nobody seems to want to buy my works with pictures because they are maybe too disturbing and that’s why I’m planning that people could just buy a part of my brand represented by the autograph but draw themselves something cute and politically correct on the paper.
RED FLAGS OR RED PAINTINGS
01 May 2013, Cervera de los Montes
All other communists are today, International Workers' Day, in demonstrations against capitalism waving red flags and I'm in my studio painting red monochromes. I'm in hurry with this huge work that consists of 57 monochromatic paintings, each with a different red color. I'm painting it for a competition of an investment bank.
I believe that it's more important for the revolution that I do my critical art and give interviews promoting the party and the cause, than going to demonstrations to Madrid (130km from my little village) or Toledo, which is the capital city of our province (90km). I'm the only communist here in Cervera de los Montes.
Workers, peasants and intellectuals, unite against capitalism and imperialism!