It’s a curious pleasure to meet some of the extended members of the Isaac Cordal businessmen after all these years, isn’t it? For a decade or so you’ve been seeing his balding men in rumpled suits installed on ledges and window sills – contemplating their ennui, reviewing their rotten deeds, realizing they had wasted their lives playing the stock market only to feel empty. Now it’s time to meet the family?
Now the Spanish street artist expands the circle as he attends the Fazunchar Festival in Figueiro dos Vinhos in Portugal, and you are seeing his new sculptures perched in new spaces throughout the village. “I have had the opportunity to add new neighbours,” he says.
Where is the inspiration for these new neighbors coming from? “I’ve been reflecting on the passage of time, emigration, the abandonment of the countryside, and the climate crisis among other issues,” he tells us.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening participants at Festival Asalto 2020: 1. Isaac Cordal 2. Elbi Elem 3. Akacorleone 4. Lida Cao 5. Diego Vicente 6. Karto 7. Marta Lapena 8. Sawu 9. Slim Safont
BSA Special Feature: Festival Asalto 2020
In Barrio San Jose (Zaragoza) the Festival Asalto mounted its 2020 edition in spite of, and perhaps because of, the very strange time that we are living in. Once considered an expression of the counterculture, illegal street art has evolved in some ways to spawn legal mural festivals that actually reinforce a sense of normalcy. The organizers and participants of Festival Asalto had to overcome logistical obstacles as well as the fears of many to mount the outdoor exhibition this year, and we salute them for their fortitude and successes.
A pioneer in public art festivals, Asalto celebrates its 15th year here in San José, in Zaragoza (Spain) with a lineup of very thoughtful artists. The intensity of 2020 and the toll it is taking on the countries of the world – is somehow reflected in the gentle dispositions of this year’s collection, who add their works to the 300 artists and works of art here. Organizers say the connection to the community is predicated on the organizing structure of the festival, which doesn’t decree what is good, but Asalto creates “a dialogue with neighbors who see art as something intimate and in the works they can see scenes in which they can be identified.”
This years Asalto 2020 line-up
includes artists Akacorleone, Diego Vicente,
Elbi Elem, Isaac Cordal, Karto Gimeno, Lida Cao, Marta Lapeña, Slim Safont,
Anna Taratiel, Sawu Studio and Aheneah.
Below are a few that we thought you would enjoy, along with brief descriptions of the artists directly from the Asalto organizers.
Lidia Cao: “The artist Lidia Cao gives us in a large mural those hugs that we have been missing in recent months. With great sensitivity to capture moments in all her works, Lidia Cao makes this gift to the neighborhood. As the artist says ‘A hug. An act as simple as it is difficult. We have seen how a world, in the blink of an eye, has become something completely distant.’ This is a hug of joy or comfort but always comforting and that has already become a symbol for all the people who see it every day in its wake.”
Elbi Elem: “The artist Elbi Elem has explored every corner of the area of Zaragoza where the Festival Asalto has been held to continue on her path of artistic research. Elbi Elem has used the possibilities of water and reflection to create installations that lead us to recognize the duality between balance and movement or the constant change in which we find ourselves.”
Issaac Cordal: “The small figures that Isaac Cordal has placed in different parts of the San José neighborhood are part of his series, called Cement Eclipses. With this game he invites us to look for the works – he wants to draw attention to our behavior as a mass and the effects of the evolution of society. Isaac Cordal presents this intervention to us as a game and as a surprise, each encounter with one of the figures makes us wonder and question who we are.”
Karto Gimeno: “Karto Gimeno makes his first foray into public art at the Asalto Festival and he did so by transferring his characteristic style to the large format: photography and almost scenographic installation.
With that style with which he captures the urban environment that surrounds us, Karto Gimeno wanted to bring to the people some characteristic buildings that surround the neighbourhood where Festival Asalto took place this year: abandoned and invaded by vegetation and humidity houses. Three large photographs located on the facades of the buildings become three new windows from which to look and recognize the past of an area that has forgotten its agricultural past.”
Marta Lapeña: “In a large mural of five panels, the artist Marta Lapeña remembers the everyday life of the San José neighborhood of Zaragoza with some of the elements that represent its past: glass, ceramics, wheat and barley or the thread with which industrial tarpaulins were manufactured. The 50s and 60s saw the birth of a neighborhood that was born around the industry and now the artist wants to take us to that simplicity of workers’ homes with a figurative mural in which color takes us from one scene to another.”
Slim Safont: “After meeting the neighbors of the building in which he was going to make his mural and walking the streets of the neighborhood capturing his life, the artist Slim Safont noticed a scene as everyday as it was loaded with a message; a slogan on a young girl’s shirt and a nursery in the background remind us of the future that lies ahead. And he does it with that technical skill that characterizes his work: almost photographic paintings that acquire texture as we get closer.”
Akacorleone: “Akacorleone’s mural ‘ILUSIÓN’ is a set of vibrant colors halfway between abstraction and figuration. With this work, the Portuguese artist wants to defend the life and flourishing of the human being after experiencing difficult situations. As he said “my idea was to create something that simbolized the calm after the storm, something beautiful that can emerge from dark times”. Painted with the spray technique, the refined shapes that we appreciate in this work also lead us to a oneiric world.”
Sawu Studio: With the challenge of transform into a new space a degraded -although widely used- square, the Sawu Studio team has built an ephemeral installation that claims play and meeting spaces for people. A large circle symbolizes that circle or safety space in which dialogue arises and which also protects the little ones.
The effect of light on wood turns four colors into an infinite palette that changes with the sun and the movement of those around it. With this installation, Sawu has managed to point out the need to humanize public spaces and respect them and has responded to the more than 300 surveys with which the neighborhood expressed its wishes towards the “nameless square”, the place where locate this facility.
Back in June, BSA published the first article on disCONNECT, a project created in London during the lockdown due to Covid-19. A collaboration between Schoeni Projects and HK Walls, disCONNECT involves the take over of a period building by 10 artists from different countries.
Disconnect “reflects on the creative and physical constraints of the current global crisis, exploring psychological and political reactions to the crisis, as well as the role of technology as conduit between the two.”
We’re pleased to bring you our final article on the project with images of the works of all 10 participating artists. For our previous coverage click HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Free Tickets for disCONNECT are now available. 24 July – 24 August, Wednesdays – Sundays. Hourly slots starting from 11am to 5pm, with a maximum of 8 people per slot. Please book below, we can’t wait to share this journey with you!
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. disCONNECT, a “Lock-Down” Artists Takeover
BSA Special Feature: disCONNECT, a “Lock-Down” Artists Takeover
London / 24 July – 23 August 2020
Today a series of videos from the artists takeover of this London home, a testament to the fortitude of organizers and artists who didn’t accept “Lock-down” for an answer. Yes, everyone practiced social distancing, and no, a large public opening event could not take place. But this may serve as one welcome new model for art in the time of Corona.
The video series is expertly produced by Fifth Wall TV and a small consortium of commercial/cultural partners including HK Walls and Schoeni Projects. Details at the end of the video parade.
Mr Cenz / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
David Bray / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
Aida Wilde / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
Alex Fakso / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
Isaac Cordal / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
Herakut / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
Zoer / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
To find more about disCONNECT A “Lock-Down” Artists Takeover / London / 24 July – 23 August 2020 click HERE
On Christmas we send our very best wishes to you and your
family and loved ones.
Happy Hanukkah to you as well! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Solstice! No matter your religion or non-religion is we wish you the best.
These days of big holidays can be happy times and can also be difficult times for people. We chose to take stock of the year and thank you for your support and love while looking forward to the new year and decade.
We’re also thankful that we could bring Spanish Street Artist Isaac Cordal to the Bedstuy Artist Residency in Brooklyn this month. We think his very unconventional Christmas display pictured here is entertaining and brilliant as he is; a witty critique of modern society, religious traditions, and more.
The moment you think you understand the street is the moment you begin to lose touch. Behavior on social media is also about as reliable as your Uncle Oscar after he’s had a few too many frosted rum balls and rosy red holiday cocktails. First, he’s twirling Aunt Marge to the Beatles on the living room rug, next thing he’s headbanging with your cousin Teddy to Bon Jovi on the back porch – and later you regrettably see him getting his freak on with a Missy Elliott classic as he waits his turn at the pool table in the basement.
So we rely on the numbers to tell us what is popular with our readers, and not surprisingly, you like everything! Little tiny stickers, massive murals, 3-D sculptural elements, even Lizzo running for president. These are the top ten pieces that got retweeted, shared on Instagram, commented about on Facebook and read about on the site. It’s not scientific, and it’s skewed through the lens of BSA’s POV, but these hottest pieces are still an indicator of the sentiments and tastes of fans on social; sophisticated, insightful, critical, dark mooded, conscious and funny AF. You’re just our type!
November was “Native American Heritage Month” in the US and has been since 1990 and ironically the growing right-wing extremism of the intervening decades appears to have further erased our collective knowledge of native peoples – so it’s the perfect time to find this new campaign of local natives on the streets of New York by Street Artist LMNOPI.
9. Abe Lincoln Jr. & Maia Lorian. A Presidential Parody
The public takeover of ‘street furniture’ and advertising kiosks continues as artists demand back the mindspace and public space that is sold or given to corporate advertisers or propagandizers. This duo brings complementary skills to the old phone booths with their own brand of political satire.
8. Okuda & Bordalo II Collaboration in Madrid.
This Frankenstein duet on the streets of Madrid caught our eye this spring and you liked it too. By Spain’s Okuda and Portugal’s Bordalo II. Madrid, March 2019.
7. Oak Oak in Bayonne, France.
A small stencil in Bayonne, France from Oak Oak resonates in its cheerful satire of pompous crass man-boys with bombs.
6 Lula Goce for NRNY Artsy Murals /Street Art For Mankind
The Swan and the falcon depicted on the mural are actual residents of New Rochelle. They came and liked what they saw and decided to stay and raise their families there. A fitting real story as New Rochelle is a town where immigrants are welcomed and are an important part of the community.
5. I Heart Graffiti “Lizzo for President”
A campaign for singer/songwriter/ rapper Lizzo capitalized on the stars meteoric rise in 2019 to the top of many charts. Considering the number of Democratic challengers on the debate stages this summer and fall, it seemed plausible that she was actually running. If she promised Americans to help the poor and working-class yet assured her corporate donors to screw them once in office, she could get elected too.
4. Judith Supine’s Luxury Cowboy/girl Ad Take Over
The brilliant collage surrealist Judith Supine was back with a new lasso this year, skillfully misleading audiences on the street with his free associations equating luxury fashion brands and 20th-century cancer product advertising. It’s a match made in Hell!. Welcome!
3 Nafir at Urban Spree in Berlin
Iranian Street Arist Nafir left this Instagram alienation indictment hanging in a hidden spot at Berlin’s Urban Spree playground this year, and for some reason, it struck a chord with many.
Do you want to talk about it? We’re not joking about suicide.
2. “Outings Project” for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin
It began as a way of bringing fine art pieces from inside the museum to the Street, and “The Outings Project” has brought hundreds of artworks out into the daylight this way for a decade or so, thanks to French artist Julien de Casabianca. These particular dark angels have been cast out of heaven and are just about to hit the ground across the street from Urban Nation Museum, Berlin.
1. Sara Lynne-Leo struck a chord with her pain commentary on the streets of NYC
A relative newcomer to the streets in New York, Sara Lynne-Leo keeps her small scale pieces well-placed, if your eyes are open. A comedian and social observer, her character’s pains and insecurities are played out in magnified emotional tableaus that quickly capture the severity and make light of it at the same time. This one must have really captured the zeitgeist of a troubled time across modern societies, where one pretends a wound is made bearable with an optimistic sunny perspective, even if the situation may be life-threatening.
The evolution of an artist’s practice is something we feel very privileged to observe over time and we revel in the successful steps forward that any artist takes, preferring to see it as an act of courage. Street Artist Isaac Cordal is currently taking a big jump forward, consolidating his strengths and doubling down on his convictions in ever more powerful ways for his new exhibition entitled “Ego Monuments”, now showing at Galerie C.O.A. in Montreal, Canada.
His vocabulary intact and increasingly sophisticated, something tells you that it is all synthesizing and gathering with the momentum of a storm. Here he is mocking the clique mentality of the politburo, presenting his company men as a block of distracted dullards, each separately miserable and indistinguishable in their groupthink.
The image of one of his hapless figures as a crucified businessman with slightly ghoulish smirk taps into the themes of self-important sacrifice and holy reverence of so-many corporate heroes, frankly flagellating the idea of either. Elsewhere soaring pedestals lift the individual so high that coming down would likely result in death.
As a disarming collection of
installations in the gallery you may revel at the methods Cordal devises to
communicate the collective blindness pushing us further toward oblivion, his
blunt critique of consumer culture and mindless navel-gazing is a reassuring
mediocrity that warms you gradually– as the water rolls toward a boil.
“We are the new version of
colonialism,” Cordal says his new press release, “we are waiting for climate
change by sunbathing on the beach. We live permanently exposed, controlled,
leaning out to the public balcony of the social networks and Big Brother has
become our flat-mate.”
As we examine our public statues and the messages of our massive free-standing art in parks, Cordal suggests that size matters in this age of the SELF. “Monuments to the ego would be so big that it was necessary to change the scale of these works to place them into the gallery.”
Elsewhere he comments on the sorrowful narcissism that permeates the culture, as expressed by his figures here: “Almost all the sculptures that are part of the exhibition have their eyes closed, immersed in their smartphones or virtual reality headsets. Blind to their own reality, they don’t want to see beyond their own perimeter. ”
Isaac Cordal, “Ego Monuments” at Galerie C.O.A. in Montreal, Canada is open to the general public until October 12th.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. NeverCrew – “Celsius” 2. Boulevard Paris 13 3. Isaac Cordal “Follow The Leaders” at Urvanity 2019 Madrid.
BSA Special Feature: NeverCrew – “Celsius”
The streets are awash with artists visions these days, but few play so well with technology as these new whales from Nevercrew. The Swiss duo often use their work on the street to call attention to the plight of our water bodies, and the bodies that live within them. In these new multi-layered street pieces water is also the great reveal.
“Thermochromic paint allows us to create an immediate transformation,” Christian Rebecci tells us, “and at the same time it provides a silent litmus paper of the actual situation.”
Splashing the water upon the majestic animals certainly gives a look inside their living situation. The guys are calling it “Celcius”, an oblique reference to temperature and the effect rising temperatures due to climate change in fact changes the equation.
Boulevard Paris 13
With Mehdi Ben Cheikh at Galerie Itinerrance and Jérôme Coumet, the Mayor of Paris’ 13th arrondissement, this neighborhood of Paris has become a top-shelf open air museum over the last decade or so. With the common critique of the illegal Street Art movement evolving into a legal mural system of business development, one may overlook the few programs that have actually gotten the quality and the balance right. De facto public art for the 2010s, this execution has proven to pack a powerful visual punch and a possibly timeless quality. This newly produced video helps put the entire project’s best foot forward.
Isaac Cordal “Follow The Leaders” at Urvanity 2019 Madrid.
Radiating the drama dread of Isaac Cordal’s springtime installation at Urvanity Madrid is no easy task, but this commercial shoe brand took the time and dedicated their observation skills to help viewers reflect on the absurdities of our human condition.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Evan Roth “Since You Were Born” 2. “Island” Hamburg Max Mortal and Robert Lobel 3. Isaac Cordal In-Studio Visit. Bilbao, Spain. 4. ARTRIUM in Moscow
BSA Special Feature: Evan Roth “Since You Were Born”
Graffiti Research Lab
co-founder Evan Roth has been hacking his way through life and art practice for
the mid-2000s when he was a student at Brooklyn’s Parsons, where he was
valedictorian. Now an older wiser daddy of two, he turns his attention to the
saturated everyday data pileup generated from Internet browsing. The
accumulated images, logos, maps, banner ads in the cache is like so much DNA of
the person behind the mouse, and when it is printed to display, one becomes
Our favorite term from his new exhibit?
“An alternate form of art-making,
memory-making, and storytelling”.
Project Atrium: Evan Roth
“Island” Hamburg Max Mortal and Robert Lobel
From Hamburg an animated short video by Max Mörtl & Robert Löbel explores the irresistible desire to communicate with this stop motion & 2D animation piece. Adorable exotic creatures come alive during the day to explore and seek kindred spirits.
Isaac Cordal In-Studio Visit. Bilbao, Spain.
From our visit to his studio comes this silent overview of how to turn a pig into a pig-man. “Here is where you see the craftsman at work; carefully attentive, problem-solving industry in play, possibly more at peace while he is creating than when he is left to think too much. He picks up a pink pig figurine and begins the plastic surgery, the fine reconstruction; a gentle whirring, a whittling away of snout and a defining of chin-line.”
When we were in Moscow last summer as
curators at Artmossphere, we had the opportunity to meet the director of the
new program to bring international Street Artists to paint a shopping
mall. The magnetizing force that drew
artists to hit these walls is pretty strong; just ask Shepard Fairey, Felipe
Pantone, Tristan Eaton, Ben Eine, PichiAvo, Okuda San Miguel, Pokras Lampas,
Faith47, WK Interact, Faust, and Haculla.
The endgame of vulture capitalism. The implosion of the corporate culture. The subtle differences between public housing and private jailing. The melting of the ice caps.
However you have wished to interpret the work of Spanish sculptural street artist Isaac Cordal over the last decade, you probably thought he didn’t hold much hope for our future. Or us. But he says his work is more a reflection of what he sees, and he presents it will a subtle humor.
After a recent visit to his ceramic tiled and flourescent-lit artist studio in downtown Bilbao, we realized that his public art darkness is at least as hopeful as it is critical. All around the studio he has created a variety of rehearsal spaces, vignettes, and theatrical scenarios or displays with his figures interacting with other objects that he collects along the way.
It is at least as entertaining as it is educational. His sad characters and formal scenes of concrete dystopia are also humorous in their unlikely repetition, their utter lack of comfort, their repurposing of common objects as dire ones. His critiques of consumerism, environmental degradation, militarism, corporatism merging into fascism are sometimes couched by his own understated humor and attitude of childlike play as well.
Not that people were chuckling as they encircled the austere and degrading urban jungle scene he constructed in the Spanish capital for the Urvanity 2019 showcase in the courtyard of the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Madrid. The tribal clusters of bald men in suits were situated above, partially submerged in, or up to their chins in gravel from a bombed out lot, perhaps churned rubble created by a drone.
But did the art crowd also see the two
businessmen carrying a stretcher full of wheatgrass? The absurdity is a relief.
Are they rescuing a rectangular slab of nature? Possibly cultivating it for
farming? Blissing out on a wheatgrass juice cleanse to counter the martinis and
And what about these new human-faced pigs gathered around, looking for a trough? He presents the human/animal hybrids without comment under electric lights that glitter warmly across the compound. They could be a metaphor addressing attitudes or behaviors. They may also be a glimpse into a law-free amoral future where any new life-form you conjure can be sequenced and produced.
A graduate in sculpture at the University of Fine Arts near his hometown in Galicia, he also studied conservation of stone crafts and trained in London at Camberwell College. He was a founding member of a digital art community called Alg-a.org, a heavy metal guitarist in a band called Dismal, and a publisher of a fanzine called Exorcism.
As you learn these details about his life in the 90s and 2000s, you gain a greater appreciation for the powerful work of a guy who has emerged uniquely on the global street art stage with his Cement Elipses.
As hard driving electronic drums, bass, and cryptic lyric loops pounding from a radio on a shop stool, we witness the fastidious artist at work in the tidy studio area in this converted warehouse on a dead-end block. As he circles the center island in his overalls looking for the appropriate steel bit or resin mold he bobs gently to the beat, skillfully switching attachments on his drill and hand-designed vacuum device.
Here is where you see the craftsman at work; carefully attentive, problem-solving industry in play, possibly more at peace while he is creating than when he is left to think too much. He picks up a pink pig figurine and begins the plastic surgery, the fine reconstruction; a gentle whirring, a whittling away of snout and a defining of chin-line.
The result is rough and unrefined, proportions not sweet. He blazes through these final actions and presents his new hybrid man-pig, a satisfied glint flashing by as he blinks. The drill whirrs downward and he sits on the stool for a minute to flip over the figurine a few times and inspect it.
BSA:I imagine sometimes that people must think that you are walking around with a cloud over your head – but you’re not really. You’re a happy person who thinks seriously about the world and its issues.
Isaac: It’s not that I am choosing the topics. It is something that came by default. It is my personality. Also I make this work because I do not like the kind of society that we have now. I think about all the improvements that we have from our new discoveries – and I don’t understand what the reason is that we have all of these situations and problems. We should be a smarter society and more just.
We can find water on Mars but we can’t feed people here – what’s the reason for this? Why is our only worry about how we can have more and more and more? In that sense probably in my work it is like that because I don’t understand what we are doing, or our idea of progress. I say ‘Wow, it’s incredible that we cannot work on a common welfare.’ So the work is probably a reflection of what I do not like.
BSA:Do you think your work is conceptual art? Isaac Cordal: I don’t think so because it’s pretty direct. It’s not codified. It’s very easy to understand and with conceptual art there is a semantic idea, meanings. It’s more of a movement of art.
BSA:So you been doing this project using cement for maybe 15 years? Isaac Cordal: I don’t know maybe the first one was in 2005. Maybe before because I have some others that I made in cement that maybe go back 1999 it’s crazy how fast time goes. Because it was in 1996 that I started to study fine arts at the university in my hometown in Galicia. I also went to stone-carving school for five years. We were like slaves there because we were working with big stones – but I learned quite a lot because I learned to do more in terms of carving and modeling clay.
It was quite an experience for me. Most of the school was nice because it was more conceptual or theoretical – and it was interesting for me to learn more about contemporary art.
BSA: How do you feel about this time of your life as an artist? Isaac Cordal: The future for me I think is a little uncertain because every day is like a new year. I’m laying in the bed hiding behind my covers just looking over the edge. You say, “Oh my God another day that you have to prove yourself, do your projects.”
There are different venues and situations for artists but I think it is a kind of battle, a combat that first starts inside of you and after splashes onto others – your family or maybe your girlfriend. It’s not easy. It’s quite complex. I’ve had so many friends who were studying with me and they were talented but they couldn’t live their lives in this manner. It is a little bit uncertain. People may prefer to have a proper job. For me, probably not.
BSA:Do you have a sense about how people see your art? Issac Cordal: We have to deal with so many fears that this society is selling to us and it seems that you have to think about them. I think the people can understand my work very easily as it is very simple and representative.
BSA: What perceptions or reactions do you think they are having when looking at the “Yard” installation, for example? Isaac Cordal: The “Yard” is kind of a reflection of ourselves on a small scale. The topics are a little bit pessimistic but perhaps people can see it as a sort of reflection. They probably think about the topic that is suggested behind the installation.
BSA:Did you feel a sense of tension, given your worldview about politics and power and privilege and all of the societal structures we work within – your politics are so strong. How do you decide what to manifest? Isaac Cordal: I don’t want to do real political art. I think it is quite complicated. You have to be very clean. When you do political art you cannot make mistakes. In my work I am more interested in creating a reflection of what I see through the window. Sometimes I think I’m only speaking about myself. We are a reflection of the society and the society is always growing and evolving so probably as an artist we have to grow too.
Patti Smith begins the roll call for BSA Images of the Week in this portrait by Huetek. The punk term is loosely tossed around today, but it only applies to a certain number of people truthfully. In so many ways she is one. But she is also an author, poet, activist, and champion of the people – who she says have the power.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Adam Fu, Bella Phame, BK Foxx, Bobo, Deih XLF, Exist, Huetek, Isaac Cordal, Koralie, Koz Dos, Sixe Paredes, Smells, SoSa, UFO 907, Velvet, WW Crudo, and Zoer.