WHAT A collection this is. And what an experiment it is. Javier Mariscal, an artist and curator, explores the importance of seeking happiness in life. . The 1,200 artworks amassed by Mariscal is the revelation of his life that gives eager visitors a glimpse of joy in life. The exhibition does not answer the question about how to enjoy life, but surely enables viewers to figure out their own interpretation. Bright Crayola colors gives a spontaneous verve on unprimed space and by doing so, creates a playful exhibition that would ultimately change a visitor’s image of life.
A Spaniard and an artist with no boundaries
Barcelona, Spain, is where Javier Mariscal developed his career as a graphic designer, furniture designer, and a painter. Mariscal became drunk on design in this passionate city full of artistic inspirations and rich heritage, thus participating in many projects with this city such as creating the BAR-CEL-ONA lettering and involving in the creation for a corporate image for the Barcelona zoo. In this process Mariscal successfully spread his name in Barcelona, and bit by bit received international attention. Around this time, Mariscal decided to participate in the competition in choosing the mascot for 1992 Olympic Games held in Barcelona, and Cobi, the canine character created by Mariscal was the final winner. This was a turning point for his career and henceforth he became more interested in spreading his value of creating a 'happy world' where every people of different race, nationality and culture can harmonize.
The exhibition: construction of a narrative arc
There is hardly an exhibition that focuses on the audience as much as this one. It is meticulously planned out for audiences to follow their steps into a setting, ascend to reach a climax then slowly lead them back to the conclusion, thus creating a narrative arc. When you first step into the exhibition, a wall made of rough sketches and drawings on white fabrics will greet you. Don't be confused by this wall of clothes. It is the setting that invites you into the core body part of this narrative arc. Make your way into the exhibition by drawing them open as if they are curtains. By doing so, you will enter a whole different world full of sparkling ideas.
The exhibition begins with dim lighting and sketches in black and white . But as you reach the core of the exhibition, you would find that the colors used by Mariscal become more drastic, lyrical and exquisite. The lighting becomes brighter. Sounds and mobiles are also incrementally added on. Walking through this exhibition is like walking in a forest. The deeper you get, the more mysterious and adventurous it gets. At this point, you have reached the climax of this exhibition that Mariscal has planned meticulously. Now that you have reached the climax, Mariscal leads you to a pathway that will lead you back to the real world. The whole exhibition is like a play that audiences can participate in.
Through the exhibition, Mariscal reveals his extraordinary ability of making use of space and turning art into a story. "Works of Mariscal are generated instinctively, spontaneously. However, they are well planned and still very creative." said Juli Capella, an architect and design critics. The allocation and installation in the huge space was done out of attentive consideration for audience. Although this exhibition was the largest one ever held by Mariscal, Mariscal succeeded in making the seemingly chaotic exhibition into a strongly disciplined space that never impedes or distracts audience from the story that he tries to tell. s, and
Popularity and marketability of Mariscal’s art
A streamline always exists in art, and art that well fits the contemporary trend is what sells well. Some artists passively follow this stream to make marketable art, but Mariscal is an artist who sets the stream that others seek to follow. His works are not subtle or incisive, but they are friendly, welcoming, and relaxing. He is not reluctant to expose himself and his art to the popular mass, yet his art has a unique style of its own.
For instance, Mariscal often design illustrations for magazine covers such as 'The New Yorker" and "Ago". He also collaborated with global companies, such as H&M, Hello Kitty, and Absolute Vodka to promote products to customers from all over the world. The mascot for 1992 Olympic Games, Barcelona, Cobi was also actively commercialized through goods like bags, sport fragrance, paper cup, hats, coke etc. The hand-drawn animated movie "Chico & Rita" is another popular, marketable piece of art directed by Mariscal. It is a passionate love story of a young, promising pianist and a chanteuse in the heart of Havana, Cuba and was nominated for 2012 Academy Award as the Best Animated Feature. These are the arts that he has created for the market but you can see all of them in the exhibition since they are on display as part of his narrative arc.
"Great works of art are only great because they are accessible and comprehensible to everyone." said Leo Tolstoy. The very unfortunate artists are ones who are awfully poor despite their talent, and became widely recognized and highly praised after their death. In that sense, Javier Mariscal is one lucky artist.
* * *
Javier Mariscal is gifted and inspirational. When he saw an empty, grey wall at the exhibition, he spontaneously started sketching on the wall and improvised "cityscape". When he spotted waste materials rolling around the floor, he created a giant flower using them. He is not concerned of materials in creating art; he is truly "the art player". He hereby invites everyone into his world of juggling with various forms of art, where audience can see, hear, and experience his art-- his life.