Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa

If the popular request that art should be something that everyone can understand should be realised, this art would perhaps look like the work of Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa. On the façade of the exhibition building of La Casa Encencida in Madrid hung during the artist’s exhibition there in 2004 a massive banner with the radical demand: ‘I want a 125 cm3 motorbike! Today!’ With this the artist formulates the spirit of the youth of today: the demand for immediate fulfilment of the promises of capitalism that was already present in the not-yet-politicised youth of the 1950s. This is still the case today for a broad mass of young people who just do not want to get political and who do not know any other way to formulate their needs. The demand for a motorbike is an unmistakable message and in its form and content is accessible to everyone.

The intention of the artist is obvious. Another piece consists of a series of canvases that loosely hang from the walls and remind you of the banners that hang from the facades of squats. The slogans and requests that would normally be seen in this context are exchanged for random banal prophecies. The type of letters used refers to the aesthetic of ransom notes or blackmail letters where the sentences are put together from newspaper cut outs.

In a series of watercolour paintings, action heroes like Charles Bronson or Chuck Norris, as well as the former Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar, are chosen as motifs. The models for the paintings are role models, and the artist approaches them by using the appropriative technique of copying. Next to the portraits of the action heroes, daft statements are written with bullet holes; sentences that probably just came to the artist’s mind while he was working on the painting, such as: ‘The beard of Chuck Norris is not a gunman’s, rather it’s a hairdresser’s.’

Pérez Agirregoikoa is interested in the ordinary and not the original. He moves on one of the lower levels of our culture and he orients himself towards things that contradict the common popular concept of the origin of artistic inspiration: the conventional, the artless and the embarrassing. Pérez Agirregoikoa’s work is on the representation of the normal, respectively, the normative in all its misery. The result is a grotesque.

By Diego Castro, translated by Eva May


"El capitalismo es fabuloso"
(2004)  (Acrylic on canvas,
350x250 cm) (From Aznar series, 2002-2004)