Mariscal letters home
When you take in the Mariscal exhibition at La Pedrera it occurs to you that, like Andy Warhol before him, Mariscal, it seems, finds it hard to turn down work of any kind. Indeed the difference between commercial work and personal art has been blurred in the mass production on show here. La Pedrera has been turned into a shrine that worships at the feet of Javier Errando Mariscal.
As you walk in you’re immediately confronted with 1,500 sketches. Large sheets of Keith Haring-esque characters, doodles and drawings hang from the ceiling. Mariscal’s prolificity hits you physically as you walk through the panels to the other rooms. Round the corner you’re confronted by ‘Wall of Letters’, a large, 3D installment made from cardboard, wallpaper and wood and it’s here you grasp Mariscal’s talent with typography. His ‘Barcelona Alphabet’ is a beautifully realised, hand-drawn piece that displays his masterly way with the pen.
Here you can also get an idea of the range of projects Mariscal’s vast portfolio covers. Walk around walls of magazine covers for titles as diverse as The New Yorker and El País Seminal, digest the designs for H&M bags and posters for Bancaja, take in the fabric patterns and the illustrated recipe books. Everyone has to pay the bills but for me the most charming works on show are the ones without a brand attached. His cutlery for the El País office or the Mariscal loo brushes left me a bit cold. On the other hand his utterly charming dioramas or the naïve but delightful ‘Dusk in the Pine Grove with Vespa’ were far and away the most beguiling pieces. These cardboard cut-outs on small, basic sets shown against simple soundtracks, cajole you into thinking Mariscal might be more than just a money-hungry, jack of all trades.
You leave feeling the man can turn his hand to anything and he does, frequently. But, if designing napkins for fancy hotel chains leaves him enough financial freedom to make pieces like ‘Full Moon Night’ then all the better I say. Can you really begrudge an artist who seems to be actually making a successful living these days? You could argue, as Warhol once did, even department stores are museums these days.
Mariscal a la Pedrera is at La Pedrera until January 30th, 2011