Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa | Black Chickens
Opening: Thursday, 30 January 2020, 7 – 9 pm
31 January until 07 March 2020
Wrapped unprovoked, feeling safe, engulfing everything and holding its breath until its next move is decided; its power stems from its anonymity, the way it patiently resists definitions and normalizes the paranormal. The neo-liberal project has invaded every facet of human behavior and activity
creating a historically unprecedented machine, whose claws grab human rights, global environmental conditions and culture wars while privileging violent market authoritarianism. Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa’s latest body of work explores the symbols and processes of a system, whose ability to skip our attention works in favor of its velocity and growth. The silence that surrounds it is both cause and effect, an origins-story and destination for a remarkable amount of global catastrophes, from the economic collapse of 2007-08, the dangerous effect of global warming, rapid economic inequality to the rise of radicalism and political extremism.
Its ability to adapt and persuade its unexpected audience relates to a multitude of things, languages and myths that legitimize its powers. Agirregoikoa infiltrated their iconography attempting to examine and consequently expose how they exercise their power, how they monetize and kill the sea, how they painted black over a child’s dreamlands, how they rode horses and stood in the middle of the square just so they can look down upon everything and everyone, or even how they put a tiger in charge of a gentle white flower.
A group of mid-size drawings on paper mounted on canvas depict a selection of eagles, all standing in line paratactic next to each other like soldiers do, or are told to, while saluting the flag; a symbolism adopted by many different militaristic regimes throughout history, originating in ancient Rome and appearing on the national mythologies and imagery of Russia, Spain, Germany, Italy and the US. An array of dinosaurs, a motif Agirregoikoa has incorporated in his works in the past, are portrayed on different occasions, such as war zones, apocalyptic scenarios and sex scenes. The works are created using oil sticks on paper and canvas, alluding to a technique of children’s painting, where the colorful
surface underneath is hidden by black color, which is then scraped away to form each shape. The last body of works relates to the Spanish tradition of carnival masks, a custom known as “Gigantes y cabezudos” (Big headed and giants), which consists of oversized exaggerated masks made out of papier maché. Dressed in typical colonial costumes the figures are depicted in all their shameful might and glory. One of them raises its hand exposing a white hand underneath a black mask. The power and tyranny of control whip into shape anything unsubordinated. But small white flowers, gentle and fragile as they might make themselves appear at first, will always sprout where one least expects it, even in the face of mighty tigers ordered to do the devils work.