All art is political since it takes place in a public space and engages with an already existing discourse, yet, some works speak more directly and explicitly to social and political issues. Political statements in art of Eugenio Merino are imbued with doubt, irony, metaphors and humor. Often dubbed as controversial, his works explore the effects of branding on capitalism and its contribution to increasing inequality. Bold and straightforward, his latest body of work will be on view at UNIX Gallery. Entitled Sons of Capital, the exhibition features provocative artist’s signature use of hyperrealist sculpture, installation, and conceptualism to illustrate the dangerous consequences of blind and insatiable capitalism through satire and metaphor. Focusing on those few who lead, or have led, the world, Merino questions the distribution of power in contemporary society, calling out for change.
We have created a system that germinates and feeds leaders who have been serving their own agenda and benefit. Despite casting our ballots, people have no real part in decision-making since everything has been determined beforehand. Questioning the validity of politics, religion, and socioeconomic standards in a satirical way, Merino presents Pandora’s Ballot Box. A metaphorical ballot box containing ballot papers and hyperrealist sculpture of Adolf Hitler’s head, this piece is among most poignant and controversial Merino’s works to date. Referring to Hitler’s use of democracy to rise to power, the piece comments on the rise of extremism through representative elections. A congruent piece, Damaged Goods presents a detailed life-size sculpture of Donald Trump’s head. History moves on, politicians change, but the majority of the social class struggles stay the same.
Some other pieces deal with power, capitalism, and submissive automatons, at the same time exploring the decades-long collaboration between Big Business and governments. Individual freedoms and rights are increasingly denied under the guise of “managing society” by a more perfidious fascism. Mixing elements of found object art and sardonic conceptualism, the piece Face Wash is made out of commemorative plates featuring American presidents loaded into an industrial washing machine. Addressing the interchangeability of politicians, the work deals with the fact that they are mere puppets in a much larger and almost unstoppable apparatus. In each new political cycle, the same sociopolitical issues continue to burden our society, in an ever increasing amount.
From pieces such as For the Love of Go(l)d – depicting Damien Hirst shooting himself in the head, or Stairway to Heaven – in which a Jewish rabbi, a Catholic priest, and a Muslim worshiper are stacked one on top of the other, all praying in a positions of their individual customs: standing, kneeling, and face down – the art of Eugenio Merino has always raised a stir of controversy. The exhibition Sons of Capital will be on view at UNIX Gallery in New York from October 20th until November 12th, 2016. The opening reception will be organized on October 20th from 6 to 8pm.
Featured image: Eugenio Merino - Face Wash. All images courtesy of Unix Gallery.
New York City, United States of America