One of the works in the exhibition by Joan Cornellà currently showing at CAC Málaga. Francis Silva
What a weird world

What a weird world

Winks at old-style comics and digital antics are the new arty classics

Georgina Oliver

Thursday, 6 April 2023, 12:33

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Isn't it weird how certain words or expressions stick in our minds, forever associated with recollections embedded in the depths of our memories? This applies to personal reminiscences as well as to more universal topics implanted in the collective unconscious.

All-time planetary hits are part of an inter-stellar memory bank. Wherever You Are, Wherever You May Be, or Go... on a fine spring day... There's every chance in the world that Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World or Lou Reed's Perfect Day will spring to mind.

T-shirts emblazoned with nostalgic or ironic memes bridge the gap between highbrow and lowbrow.

Whether world-famous or "just doing it", artists of every ilk and of all ages are dipping their paintbrushes into creative software, and recycling popular imagery

If everybody gets the cross-cultural wink linked to such-and-such masterpiece in a blink, say-no-more... it has gone global (i.e. become instantly LOL-able across the globe, like an unforgettable logo or jingle).

Get it or not, on the World Wide Web as elsewhere things have a 'trend-ency' to come full circle.

Weird was the new cool in the noughties; now memetic weirdness is all around... everywhere we look.

Whether world-famous or "just doing it", artists of every ilk and of all ages are dipping their paintbrushes into creative software, and recycling popular imagery alluding to anything and everything from old-fashioned cartoons to newsreels past and present.

Doctored images

Beyond its world-class museum circuit (Picasso, Pompidou, Thyssen...), "Málaga Ciudad Genial" offers a tutti-frutti of off-the-beaten-track cultural attractions; among the lesser known of these arty treats is the city's network of professional "colegios"; to each guild its college, and many of these organise art exhibitions, which are open to the general public.

Be they doctors or veterinarians, lawyers or economists, college members are encouraged to mix business and pleasure, at once taking part in seminars and visiting solo or group shows dedicated to Costa-based artists.

Weirdly enough, two shows inaugurated one after the other, before and after Semana Santa, at the Ilustre Colegio Oficial de Dentistas de Málaga (Pasillo de Atocha, 3 / 1-Izd, Tel. 952 06 00 24), highlight opposite approaches to digital image-making.

The first (to be seen until 13 April) features captivating one-of-a-kind 'digi-expressionistic' acrylic paintings by Manuel de Mora, often incorporating iPad-generated figurative content.

Formerly at the helm of the Carlos Haya hospital's cardiology unit, Doctor de Mora is by no means an amateurish retiree; on the pulse of geopolitical issues, he injects topical subjects with a rare mix of compassion and derision. In a darkly funny vein, his self-portrait "with toothache" is a "Scream" - and I'm only half joking.

Likewise from Seville and established in Malaga, musician/university lecturer, filmmaker/multimedia artist Julio Rabadan Bujalance also 'doctors' electronically sourced images; Rabadan unveils a selection of meme-like photo-collages and videos entitled Memento Mori, at the Colegio de Dentistas on 19 April.

"The fatuousness of human behaviour" is at the heart of his neo-classical/baroque visual statements.

Wanna stop the world?

Further pictorial puns are in store at CAC, Malaga's Contemporary Art Centre, a short stroll away from the College of Dentists. Till 4 June, a double bill of funky storytellers propels us into a retro-weirdo mindset.

On the one hand, Malaga kid Imon Boy's museum debut, dubbed Principio de Algo (Beginning of Something): a dozen playfully painted 'mini worlds' harking back to his teenage years at the crossroads of street art, video games and comics; this ongoing personal diary is displayed against a pale grey graffiti-style background, combining curvilinear lettering and cuddly-looking cartoonish characters.

On the other, Barcelona-born, Hong Kong resident, Joan Cornellà, an illustrator-cartoonist, whose tongue-in-cheek corrosive universe has made the leap to international art world recognition. "Dek Tau" (which stands for "Ten" in Esperanto and "Years" in the Maori language) is the title of this decade-spanning mega tribute.

To my mind, the mere sight of Cornellà's signature dead-pan depictions of "little Mr and Mrs Nobodies" smiling in the face of absurdly desperate "Is there a pilot on board?" situations evokes an expression that has recently resurfaced from oblivion: "Stop the world I want to get off." From popular ditty to West End musical, from big screen to Broadway, from Arctic Monkeys lyrics to T-shirt slogan... Here It Comes Again... that "Crazy Planet" feeling...!

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