Arts & Entertainment

The Venezuelan bolívar, from devalued currency to repurposed art canvas

By Bárbara Agelvis

Caracas, Jul 16 (EFE).- After two currency denomination overhauls in the past 13 years, the Venezuelan bolívar, crippled by hyperinflation, has found a way to retain its value in the hands of artists using the cash as a canvas.

The pain of Venezuelans losing purchasing power to rampant inflation is the source of inspiration for painters, crafters and amateur artists using the virtually worthless banknotes for more symbolic and emotional purposes, according to artist Jean Franco González.

The 24-year-old is at the vanguard of money art, a new trend giving the old and devalued bolívar bills “special” value.

Over the faces of national hero Simón Bolívar or fathers of Venezuelan independence like Francisco de Miranda, González paints new faces, landscapes, items or renowned characters, from Salvador Dalí to Frida Kahlo.

The colourful banknotes, plastered onto a board, become the base of an illustration depicting a scene, or the sights of the largest neighbourhood in Venezuela, Petare.

But they can also depict the funny sequence of a movie, a luxurious sports car, or the infamous smile of the Joker, Batman’s jester nemesis.

Anything and everything, whatever the client requests.

“You have to grab this heap of paper, paper money, that at some point meant something good, and make it somewhat valuable again,” says González.

His works painted on legal tender have the highest demand in his studio, over other pieces laid on normal canvases.

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