Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada has been looking for ways to draw all of his practices into one; his land-art works, sculptures and paintings. Here in Penelles, Lleida, Spain his new mural appears to combine the three directions into one flowing portrait full of lines in movement.
Part of the annual Gargar Mural and Rural Art Festiva, this year in late April and early May, Rodriguez-Gerada says his intention was to attract attention to the towns like this on in rural Spain that are suffering from depopulation. It’s not a common theme, but one that Gargar has been inviting people to contemplate for about a decade by inviting artists to come and paint this Catalonian village of about 500 and its surrounding area.
“The festival hopes to generate resources that allow us to correct the effects of time and the deterioration of our streets, reinspiring hope in our neighbours,” say organizers of the Gargar Festival.
In a town with a stultifying 112 murals and only 400 inhabitants, you already know that your work will be judged by experts – since everyone is looking and communing with multiple murals in the course of one day all over their city. This unusual urban occurrence is thanks to the Gar Gar Festival which has invited local and international artists for six years under the curatorship of the duo Binomic, formed by Maria del Mar López and Jordi Solana.
For the MEXPANIA installation, the artists Paola Delfín, Sixe Paredes, Pilar Cárdenas AKA Fusca and Daniel Muñoz all joined ranks to symbolically relocate a mosaic painted on Pino Suárez street in Mexico City – itself a reproduction of an original work made by Juan Correa in the 17th century. Joining languages, histories, and iconography, this unique enterprise could have ended in disaster, yet here presents a unified composition that speaks with poetry and authority.
To appreciate the work completely, we asked curators Arcadi Poch and Édgar Sánchez to describe it for BSA readers.
“The two main characters are Moctezuma and Hernán Cortés, who have been transformed into two symmetrical doors, crowned by two divided suns. The floor of the scene is transformed into a map that collects a series of migratory paths through the history of humanity. Two surrendered horses fall on the map, followed by two eagles, meant to represent the fall of the symbols related to all the warlike and racist conflicts that occurred 500 years ago. The play speaks to the public about the richness of the past to inspire us to build a reunion and hence a future of greater integration.”
A well branded cultural initiative brings for the second edition a festival of art, music, craft beer, food trucks, workshops to the village of Penelles in Spain, including 900 square meters of murals in this town with farmer roots and low one story buildings.
It has become almost a formula for cities and municipalities to inject a youthful culture and energy into an area – as you may expect, it is about striking a balance and treating all of your artists well and creating a mixture of events and opportunities for the people to engage with the scene. Even when the population of your Catalonian town is a little less than 500 people.
GarGar2 just happened in May with about 30 artists displaying public art in disciplines that touch on almost all of the currently used styles on the street; aerosol, wild style, figurative, illustration, neo-realism, photorealist, commercially slick, folk heroism, calligraphy, text based, pop art, abstract optics, political commentary, brush paint, stencil, craft, crochet, primitive sculpture… Organizers have studied the websites and social postings and surveyed closely what is happening in the mural/Street Art scene and are presenting a cross-section of at least one example of every category.
The somewhat arid agricultural community is spread out over many small roads and fields of wheat, rye, and corn. Old buildings are used for small art exhibitions and music venues – with many of the performing solo artists and ensembles playing a familiar mix of folk, jazz, afrocarribean, and electronic genres that merge local with international tastes.
It is a polished presentation meant to draw attention to the town, and we are thankful to photographer Lluis Olive Bulbena for capturing some of the images from this year’s festival. Following it is a video from last years’ GarGar.
The influence of Street Art and graffiti continues to disperse through cities, towns and the countryside of many regions in the form of mural festivals. The village of Penelles in Catalonia asks residents if they would like to hand over the walls of their houses to be painted by contemporary artists and many say yes, gladly.
It is a far cry from the responses of landlords in large cities where the association in the minds of many is graffiti and vandalism. According to a posting on Facebook, the challenge for attendees of a recent mural festival here was to gather enough money to rent a bus and drive people around to see the new artworks!
GarGar, the festival held in the third week of May, also featured live music, food trucks, beer, workshops, and people milling around taking photos of the artists while they worked and discussing the new pieces. Perhaps taking as a model the same concept as the Spanish town of Fanzara, Penelles is a small sleepy town that is being revitalized with urban art.
Photographer Luis Olive Bulbena tells us that the town, which is located around 130 km northwest of Barcelona, has about 500 inhabitants and “basically the whole of the municipality revolves around agriculture.”
We thank Mr. Bulbena for sharing these new images with BSA readers.