Dutched the Wall

Juan López

7 December 2009

Printed vinyl mural Production: LABoral

Borrowing his references from American 1930s and 1950s Custom Culture which marked a change in the design of cars through a very specific graphic style directly applied on the bodywork, Juan López has customised the wall of the lobby of LABoral.

Expanding notions explored in previous mural works, where the perception of the proposed space has been altered through adhesive materials, the windows of that wall are transformed into what could be the exhaust pipes of a motor vehicle. The graphic element chosen for that purpose is fire, an element ubiquitous in the practice of car customising.

By Juan López

In an article on cars, art and the perfect finish, published in the magazine Frieze in 1998, Edward Allington explained the strong links between hot-rods or kustom kars and the artists of the US West Coast, and very particularly, art practitioners like Robert Irwin or John McCracken, who described cars as painting in motion. Allington claims that the connection was particularly intense in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but that since then, kar kustomizers are “moving towards a wild, Baroque extravagance with giddy displays of skill and decoration that has now almost atrophied into a tradition.” In his intervention, Juan López seems to turn this process on its head and to reinstate a necessary way of looking at popular art, in this case, customization, a development that, several decades since its emergence, has recovered extraordinary strength in recent years, perhaps with lesser artistic ambition yet with similar sociological impact. Juan López’s choice of tattooing the building with a symbol similar to the way it is done with cars, reflects the ideal of speed and power while reminding us that car culture is also a support for the expression of a popular art once strongly related to art creation.

By Alberto Martín