El Celso headed to Pandemic Gallery

El Celso. Photo by C-Monster

El Celso‘s solo show ¡No Habla Español! is opening at Brooklyn’s Pandemic Gallery on March 11th. The story behind this show is pretty interesting. I’m just posting the press release because that explains it pretty well:

¡NO HABLA ESPAÑOL! is El Celso’s most personal show to date. This new series of works was inspired by a recent trip to Peru where the artist became obsessed with posters made in the “chicha” style. These hand-made posters line city streets all over Peru and generally feature an eye-popping neon color palette and commercial graphics-inspired lettering. They are generally used to advertise working class concerts and other events. During a recent trip around Peru, in 2010, Celso began collecting discarded and out-of-date fragments of these posters – known as afiches chicha in Spanish – from the streets of towns such as Chachapoyas, Chiclayo, Cajamarca and Lima (to name a few).

Further inspired by their look, he established contact with the esteemed Fortunato Urcuhuaranga at Publicidad Viusa, the print workshop that originated this iconic DayGlo look back in the 1980s. (Urcuhuaranga is a former radio DJ and he originally created these posters to advertise his station’s musical happenings.) Based on the outskirts of Lima, in the suburb of San Juan, Ate, this renowned family-run studio has produced posters for countless local Peruvian acts, as well as visual artists and arts organizations around the world.

In collaboration with the Urcuhuarangas, Celso created a series of posters inspired by the Peruvian chicha style. However Celso’s posters are a wry play on the idea of the advertisement: event posters created for non-events. Since last year, he has installed dozens of these on the streets of New York and Miami.

The posters look pretty cool, and the whole concept reminds me of one of my favorite comments in the film Beautiful Losers. One of the artists, whose name I forget, says something like “I love old advertisements. The kind that can’t hurt you anymore because they’re selling typewriters.” I think that is part of the idea behind El Celso’s posters, but then the question has to be asked about to what degree is street art advertising? So while I love the idea behind these posters, it’s difficult to say that they are not selling anything. After all, the posters say El Celso’s name and I’ve become familiar with these posters as they have appeared on the street, so I already knew a bit about them before reading about the show and that probably made me more likely to post about them on Vandalog. Still, I like the posters and I’m not gonna call out El Celso too severely unless he makes a poster specific to this show and starts pasting it up around NYC. That’s when, for me, things shift occurs from art with a bit of advertising to advertising with a bit of art.

And yes, obviously graffiti is advertising names too, but writers aren’t claiming to not be advertising. On the other hand, El Celso does seem to be attempting non-advertising, the type of advertising that can’t “hurt you anymore.”

Here’s a flyer for the show:

Photo by C-Monster