The paintings of Victor Castillo have a unique eerie style. He began drawing from a young age inspired by cartoons, comics, and album covers. Castillo finally attended art school but found himself disillusioned with his time there. After leaving school he spent some time working with an experimental art collective in his native country of Chile. Next Castillo relocated to Barcelona, Spain. It is in Barcelona that his signature style solidified.
His painted world are most noticeably populated by children wearing clown-like masks: a red nose protrudes from a white face and any eyes are conspicuously absent. Though the masks smile, there is something disturbingly insincere about the expressions. Castillo carefully sets up each scene of his paintings almost as a sort of visual parable. A small narrative unfolds hinting at a larger message. Political themes such as greed or abuse of power begin to emerge within the symbolism of each piece. Castillo makes use of narrative tools often found not only in painting, but also comics. A statement from a past solo exhibit at the Jonathan Levine Gallery further explains the symbolism behind his paintings:
“In this exhibition, Castillo’s allegorical visions of the current socio-economic world crisis come in the form of spooky children’s tales. Through acrylic works on canvas and drawings on paper, his cast of masked, hollow-eyed children serve as a vehicle to convey ominous narratives of survival, greed and indoctrination. Inspired by vintage animation, his paintings are like theatrical sketches of tragicomic situations. With cartoon-like figures in the foreground and lush, classical landscapes in the background, Castillo’s dramatic baroque lighting completes the effect of exposing corrupted innocence.”
This week’s images bring us surprising works of beauty, detail, and wit. Sam3 brings a silhouette mural with an innovate use of the fence posts (I’m guessing located in rural Spain) – the piece references the expulsion of the Moors from the Ricote valley in the 16th century. We also have a giant new mural in Poland from Sainer of the ETAM crew. Alexis Diaz also give a new mural, an elephant/octopus creature a week in the making comprised of thousands of detailed brushstrokes. Stenciler DS smartly rebuffs the buffer – after one of his stencils was painted over DS replaces it with a portrait of the “remover man”. David de la Mano‘s is a poetic and carefully detailed mandala-esque piece. Ludo expounds on his theme of contrasting technology and nature with an impressive tulip-rifle mural. Nychos new piece in San Francisco finds a tiger literally jumping out of its skin. Finally, we have an awesome collaboration between artists POSE and Revok that followed their dual exhibit at the Jonathan Levine Gallery.
Marco Mazzoni’s work softly drips with an exquisite ease of darkness. From blooming faces where birds gather to a rabbit draining with butterfly wings, each image surrealistically depicts folklore infused with spiritual healing properties that twist and twirl with our own imaginative connections to nature.
To elaborate, Jonathan Levine Gallery notes, “Mazzoni’s imagery references herbalist traditions and Sardinian folklore of mystical seductresses who enchant, curse and cure. His body of work is a tribute to the legacy of female healers throughout history. These women held an important role in medieval communities yet their ancient knowledge of the natural healing properties of medicinal plants was widely feared by the Church, viewed as witchcraft and cause for persecution.”