On Minotaurs freeing themselves from the labyrinth + Upcoming show

 

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Sketch drawing for the minotaur sculpture leading the show The Demonstration

I started drawing Minotaurs as a child1. I have always been fascinated by the minotaur tragic story and always been upset that they were killed in the labyrinth. Now, my next show, has a female minotaur as a leader. Guided by a kite that she holds with a golden threat, the she-minotaur sculpture gets out of the labyrinth on her own terms and well alive. Behind her, all these other almost human-like sculpture follow.

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Minotaura, ink and acrylic drawing commissioned by Indisorder.

The figure of the Minotaur has been used by many artists, from Picasso who loved to draw himself as a big minotaur having sex with young girls (???), to Borges, who in his Asterion’s House, make the minotaur the narrator of his own solitude and cruelty, living in a gigantic house with no exit.
The minotaur, in the Greek myth, was the son of a queen and a bull, a “monster” half bull half man. Seen as a monster, he was imprisoned in a labyrinth and fed with young girls and boys. One day the hero Teseo, armed with a sword and a golden thread, enters the labyrinth and kills him. Teseo was able to find the way out thanks to the thread that his lover Ariadne gave him.

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Ink and acrylic drawing from the Blue Minotaur series, 2014

 

 

On my drawings the Minotaur is always female. There are so many reasons why I love drawing female minotaurs. Not only do the minotaur and me share the same legal name (that almost nobody knows), but more importantly, I feel that my art practice deals with a lot of powerful, mythical creatures oppressed by society in a labyrinth of rules and punishments. In the reading i make of the myth, the female minotaur is not a victim of the labyrinth, she’s the one who frees herself and guides others. She questions the Greek myth and the role “monsterity” and “norm” plays in it: Who are monsters? What makes this creature so scary that has to be imprisoned? What is this prison?

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Ink and acrylic drawing from the Blue Minotaur series, 2014

For me, female minotaur is a figure of strength and subversion that acknowledges the pre-christian power of this animal (Thank you SAA for this conversation) and the power of female fighters who revolt against normativity systems. The she-minotaur is a metaphor of this not-fitting-in, of this process of “monsterity”, of being a “monster” or becoming a “monster”, of this becoming a threat to the “norm” This is what the minotaur represents in the myth: a threat to the well-behaved and normative society, a product of desire that put reason and norms in danger. This is why the minotaur has to be put in a labyrinth, an almost-prison with an impossible exit. Why the well-behaved society chooses to put the minotaur in a labyrinth instead of putting them in a jail with no exit or simply killing them, it is a very interesting question that may bring us to contemporary issues of politically-correctness, pretensions of justice etc.

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Ink and marker drawing commissioned by Turning Pages, 2013

 

The labyrinth may be read in many different ways, it can be a social labyrinth or it can be a personal labyrinth. In fact, we may be the minotaur or the minotaur may be a part of us that we are repressing out of fear of not fitting in, of not being good enough, etc. The readings of the female minotaur are as many as we want. In any case, she is the her own savior, her own freer. There’s no place for Teseos nor heroes who kill “monsters” The she-minotaur is the one who finds the exit of the labyrinth, following the golden thread. Maybe Ariadne is her lover or the name of her kite or her heart or her instinct. Whatever it is, she’s the one who keeps on looking until she finds the impossible exit.

The Demonstration

Showing as part of Mayworks Festival 2014

May 1st to June 3rd

Opening May 7th, 7pm

Whippersnapper Gallery

594b Dundas Street West

Toronto

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I was a child and copying every intriguing drawing or painting I found, so Picasso’s minotaurs were a great training on how to use charcoal and draw big muscle guys. Of course as a Spanish child the figure of the bull brings a lot of contradictory feelings: on one side there is the mystery and the knowing of the mythical power of the animal, on another, there are the disgusting cruelties against these animals during bullfighting (known in Spain as the National Party) and the use that the Spanish national identity makers have done of the bull. The minotaur, being half bull half person, bring up many of these issues, but also questions about “monsterity”, metaphores and labyrinths.

Black and White myths drawings

Spring is finally here! The artist residency that I have been doing at Wai-Yant Li’s studio is almost over. This month in Montreal have been so rich in art, conversations, reflections, encounters. From ceramics to big scale drawings, new projects have been born in this studio. 
On this month I have been working mostly on black and white drawings where reality, politics, society and myths intertwine together. I am interested in using ancient Greek mythology stories in the same space and time that contemporary western politics.

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For example I have been working on are a series of mythological characters that I enjoy subverting and identifying with, like female minotaurs and bearded mermaids. Minotaurs and mermaids have been part of many of my projects and drawings. I enjoy how they represent the margins, the strange, the non-normal, the ones that are scary and punished because of who they are and their power. I like drawing them cheeky, sexy, strong and proud.

I like myths as metaphors that help to explain things. I am interested in making these myths tangible, material among everyday people as a way to question how these terrible violent stories are metaphors or impregnate European mentality. Image

As part of these reflection, I have started this very ambitious and large drawing called Europa. Remembering the myth of Europa, a young Phoenician girl from Lebanon who was kidnapped and raped by Zeus disguised as a white bull, this drawing pays attention to how European philosophy and politics are based on the patriarchy, whiteness, and colonization that are key elements of the myth. On the drawing, Europa lays vulnerable and hurt on the ground becoming part of the landscape, both geographical and philosophical. Around her but without noticing her, people continue their everyday lives and multiple stories happen, some realistic, some metaphorical. 

 

 

 

 

Ceramics studio + sale!

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During the month of March I will be in residency at the extraordinary Wai-Yant Li ceramic studio. Wai-Yant and me have been working on these limited edition ceramic plates portraying animals extinct during the past centuries due to Western colonization and, sometimes, really ridiculous examples of human greed. You can see everything we’ve done during the studio opening (March 20th) and studio sale (March 21st – 22nd). See address below.

The whole process of working with Wai-Yant and ceramics is very interesting to me. The clay that we are using becomes completely white when it dries, and after the first firing (called bisque) the colours start to really pop up. Illustrating with ceramic pigments is a challenge, as before the firing, all colours look broken white. It is only after the first firing (bisque) and specially after the second firing (glaze) that we can actually see the final colours.

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Plates before the bisque (Firing 1)

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Plate after the glaze (firing 2)

Other than the plates, Wai-Yant and me have come up with these Birdy Mugs. As with the plates, the clay will turn white after the firings and the colours will pop up. The birds come in blue, green, orange and red. They all have yellow tummies.

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Bird Mugs before bisque (firing 1)

Studio opening: March 20th, 5pm-8pm
Studio sales: March 21st and 22nd, 12pm-6pm
Drawing workshop: March 22nd, 4pm-6pm

4710 St. Ambroise, #350,
(If the door is locked, dial 3053#)
Metro Place St. Henri
Montreal

*the studio is somewhat accessible- there is a freight elevator; just let us know and we’ll open it for you.

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13 Extincted animals. Watercolour, 2014

It´s been a long time since I’ve been written here. Many things have hapenned since the last post, those days where Los Fantasmas were still showing in Montreal.
Good news, Los Fantasmas will be showing in Argentina and Spain this upcoming year, I’ll keep you posted with dates and final spaces. Another news related to Los Fantasmas, I will be soon launching a kickstarter campaign to turn that show into a book that you can take home with you. Many people have asked me to do this and my dear friend Paulie McDermid has written a beautiful intro to it. Thank you in advance for your support. 

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Los Fantasmas at La Centrale Powerhouse, 2013.
Image by Christian Bujold

Elements of my new installation project The Demonstration will be premiering at extraordinary festival Mayworks, at Whippersnapper Gallery (Toronto) during all the month of May. I will be installing for a whole week and as part of the process, you are all welcome to come and chat with me and discover all the secrets of an in-situ installation. Part of The Demonstration will be also showing at Galerie Lilian Rodriguez in Montreal in September. 

 

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Genderpoo in Granada (Spain), 2013

After spring, my next show will be Genderpoo showing at MU Art Space in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) in June and July for a whole show focusing on gender questioning art. Curators Leonie Baauw and Hanneke Wetzer have selected works and I am super excited that they want Genderpoo to be part of the show. I am also happy to have the opportunity to set up in Eindhoven, facilitate a workshop and get to meet more artist and people.Genderpoo was also shown at Ryerson University in Toronto this february and I had the chance to facilitate a workshop with LGBTQ youth attending Delisle Youth Services STARS program, where we all draw our own washroom sign! The following week I also did a talk with Gay and Lesbian seniors at SPRINT Senior Care centre, where they did also enjoy the little Genderpoo signs. I’m reallly lucky that a project I started in 2008 is still so loved.

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Wai-Yant Li and Coco Riot, The Forest of Broken Heart at Le Petit Versailles, New York City, 2013

On the new projects coming up. I am extremely lucky that my friend Wai-Yant Li wants to host me in their ceramic studio in Montreal for a full month! I will therefore be spending March working with them in a new project. Our previous one, the immersive outdoor installation The Forest of Broken Hearts brought so much inspiration to my life. I can’t wait for the new one.

 

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The City the Night Before, 2013 -

I will be also working on my graphic novel The City the Night Before, a magical and metaphorical story about people fighting against a criminal system… sounds familiar?

Last but not least. This is my last post from this website template. A new website is being born and it will be on the air on March 1st.

Hopefully there will be time for drawing more animals, going on bike rides, cooking with my loved  ones and going places.
Also, don’t forget, I do murals anywhere and I’d love to make one at your place/shop/organization. I also do illustrations and comics. 

Winter is over “soon”. Let’s celebrate.

Los Fantasmas in Montreal

Montreal welcomed Los Fantasmas in the most precious way, with warm smiles, public discussions and a wonderful organization by the always impressive artist-run centre La Centrale Powerhouse. The Spanish Immigrant Collective in Montreal did an inspiring presentation on the present political situation in Spain and I did an artist-talk about the piece Los Fantasmas itself. The nineteen drawings were this time in the very good company of an on-site mural created for the occasion with the help of my dear friend and extraordinary artist Carla Molina Holmes. Outside the gallery, the republican (anti-fascist) flag set the mood for the passersby, many of whom, as the gallery is situated in the Spanish neighbourhood in Montreal, were aware of the strong political statement of this flag. By the way, my mum sent me this flag from Spain, this is the same flag my mum waves in the demonstrations and actions against the austerity measures and fascist policies of the Spanish government. Sadly, and this is the only sad note, the flag got stolen the last night of the show. Positive notes… so many, a book full of wonderful comments (some of them you can see below) and an article in Le Devoir, the main Quebec newspaper, by Jerome Delgado that I find extremely touching because of the research and heart he clearly put into it.
Below you will find some images of the Montreal show by photographer Christian Bujold.

Next year Los Fantasmas will travelling to Latin America, and hopefully to Spain. Please share your contacts to make the dream come true.
Thank you all for a wonderful 2013.

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