In the summer of 1976, Richard Hamilton invited Dieter Roth to Cadaqués. Their good friend Marcel Broodthaers had recently passed away, and they wanted to pay tribute to him by turning an idea for an exhibition into a reality. It was an idea that had cropped up in one of their crazy conversations. Roth had been flicking through a magazine showing rooms decorated with paintings of animals and he proposed creating works of art so that the owners of these luxurious interiors could regale their beloved pets and they, in turn, could enjoy the art too. Broodthaers was immediately encapsulated in the idea. His Musée d’Art Moderne – Département des Aigles [Museum of Modern Art – Department of Eagles] had a significant collection of items and, after its “failure” and “sale”, designing a museum for dogs was going to be the perfect culmination of his efforts to demonstrate the cultural industry’s mechanisms, in his constant assertion of the autonomy of art. Hamilton and Roth turned the exhibition into a reality that same summer, together with an exceptional collaborator – the dog Chispas Luís, a kind of canine Broodhtaers. A playful gesture, capable of straining the conditions surrounding our perception of art and destroying any established standards.
Ricardo Passaporte’s uninhibited, acidic and disruptive practice similarly questions the structures that place value on artistic deeds. His work consciously plays with the codes of painting, deftly managing the colours, formats and forms that seduce the public, and in the digital world too, which is saturated with the mundane and temporary, where everything is reduced to a simple commodity that can be consumed and thrown away. His prior series recreate the logos of mass-consumed brands and images bought from shops selling kitsch trinkets; motifs of an everyday, absurd and low cost universe. Knick-knacks of little aesthetic value are replicated in an appropriationist gesture that appeals to us, the same way that soft and sticky cotton candy attracts children at the fairground.
To these comings and goings via communicating vessels, Passaporte applies another patina, and updates an already classic genre by passing it through the ‘street’ filter. In his selection of topics and techniques, in which he frequently uses spray paint, he appeals to the free and easy attitude and aesthetic of graffiti artists. Applying spray paint at a greater distance from the canvas means he has a certain lack of control in the process of creating the images, and therefore leaves room for chance, surprise and joyful gratification. In turn, his paintings feature a specific style of blurring, which softens up the lines, giving his images a dream-like halo. Street aesthetics have a clear influence on the fashion industry, which Ricardo trained in before leaving it for art, he says, due to not fitting into its system. Art still allows you to escape excessive commercialism and hyperproductivity that exhausts any creative spirit. Or at least, live better and have more fun.
If Dogs Don’t Go To Heaven, I Want To Go Where They Go, the first solo exhibition by Ricardo Passaporte in Mallorca, presents a selection of new works of art, in which he continues to search for knick-knacks, rooted in his interest in outsider artistic practices. Ricardo creates images of painted murals that he gathers from his Google Street View walks across the world, as if creating a gigantic trail. The criteria of originality and authenticity were diluted a long time ago and now we value that which is capable of finding, transforming and showing what surprises and pleases us. Like Jim Shaw and his ‘Thrift Store Paintings’ – a collection of paintings bought from second-hand shops –, Ricardo is attracted by the creations that astonish not because of their brilliance but because of their deficient or even awkward account, vast lack of“good”taste or of the academic precepts of perspective and“good”composition. His special attention to animal themes predominates, among which those dedicated to pet dogs have been selected for this exhibition. While we look at what we presume to be portraits produced by loving owners of their invaluable furry companions, Dieter Roth reappears looking at that interior decoration magazine. Why limit ourselves to what the norm dictates? Why not go with the flow and enjoy? Why not dream of the life of a street dog, a life of freedom?
English translation by Carla Davidson