Joan Cornellà – A solo show @ Spoke Art
The solo show of Barcelona-based illustrator Joan Cornellà, on view through March 26th, 2016 at Spoke Art gallery (816 Sutter St. San Francisco CA 94109), highlights the absurd aspect of human nature in a morbid and sarcastic manner, bringing into discussion topics that people either fail to acknowledge or tend to ignore for the sake of being politically correct or for their own comfort – from the selfie culture to homelessness, drug addiction, various acts of violence, gender and race, infanticide and amputation among others. In the artist’s words: “I think we all laugh at misery. It’s the most hilarious thing. And death, we all think about death but we don’t want to talk about it. So if you talk about death in a funny way it can be sort of cathartic.”
The joyful and colorful characters are rather artificial with their glacial, big and fake smiles reminding of the unnatural cheerfulness of TV stars, celebrities and politicians, playing their role and always apparently happy no matter the situation. However, there is no room for hypocrisy or acting in the wordless works and six-panel comics of Joan Cornellà, in which the best stories often link to a sadistic behavior, intentional self-mutilation and what some may consider as sick twisted happy-endings yet always so sincerely depicted as if they could happen at any moment.
Although he does not aim to criticize society, his works are clearly thought-provoking and the artist certainly reveals some destructive habits, instincts and patterns that go beyond his extraordinary imagination and are actually part of reality, perhaps in milder proportions than in the world he describes. Therefore, with laughter comes the awareness of a cleverly pointed out message.
About the artist
Joan Cornellà Vázquez (b. 1981) is a Spanish cartoonist and illustrator, famous for his unsettling, surreal humor and black humorous comic strips as well as artwork. He graduated in fine arts, he has collaborated for numerous publications, such as La cultura del Duodeno, El Periódico, Ara and has illustrated for The New York Times. In 2009 he won the third edition of the Josep Coll Prize with his album Abulio, published in the next year by Glénat. Since 2010 he provides cartoons for the Spanish magazine El Jueves.
About the gallery
Spoke Art is an art space specializing in new contemporary painting, sculpture and illustration located in San Francisco’s Lower Nob Hill neighborhood. Their rotating monthly exhibits feature a wide variety of solo and group shows, many of which feature their international roster of represented artists.
Images of the works courtesy of the gallery. Opening photos: Shaun Roberts.