By Ana Mengotti
Miami, May 27 (EFE).- Venezuelan artist Eduardo Sanabria “Edo,” now living in Miami, is demonstrating that pop art is “not just garish colors” with works that question “influencers,” reinterpret the “Mona Lisa” and suggest another cover for the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” album, all the while maintaining their chromatic strength.
The only black-and-white work in the “Edo Love Pop. Next Level” exposition that will open on June 4 at the Doral Contemporary Art Museum in Miami-Dade County is a reinterpretation of Pablo Picasso’s iconic “Guernica.”
Edo prepared that piece in 2017 when demonstrations against the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro were intensifying and were harshly repressed, as is now occurring in Colombia, Edo said in an interview with EFE as he worked on setting up his “first exposition curated by a museum,” although he has already displayed his works in several countries.
A Picasso transformed into a flower girl by street artist Bansky welcomes viewers to an exposition in which Edo unveils the figures he admires, both in real life as well as those from comics, movies and television.
Picasso, for example, is in the work that opens the exposition, in the series of portraits of “influencers” of the past, whom Edo painted with a cellphone in hand, and in the re-envisioned cover for The Beatles’ iconic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album from 1967.
In Edo’s reinterpretation, the Liverpool quartet appears surrounded by pop characters who either had not been born yet or were not known at the time like Lionel Messi, Steve Jobs, Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson, along with classic figures like South African activist and leader Nelson Mandela, soccer great Pele and Abraham Lincoln.
Edo was a cartoonist for 15 years for the Capriles group’s newspapers in Venezuela, but he abandoned the country six years ago, he said laughing, adding that when he wanted to sell a copy of the limited edition of the work based on “Sgt. Pepper” to an American he told him that if he could identify all the figures appearing in it he would give it to him as a gift.
“They never identify Messi or Annie Leibovitz,” he said, referring to the soccer icon and the famous photographer, respectively, adding that he envies the latter for having managed to capture some of the world’s best actors for the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.
In his own interpretation, Edo presents his favorite “Villains,” including Marlon Brando as the Vito Corleone character in “The Godfather” and Bryan Cranston from the “Breaking Bad” series, along with Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter from “The Silence of the Lambs” and Darth Vader from “Star Wars.”
Edo gets emotional while talking about Javier Bardem and Heath Ledger for their respective performances as bad guys in “No Country for Old Men” and “The Dark Knight,” respectively.
When asked why he doesn’t produce a work about the “bad things” of real life, he says that “nobody would buy it,” noting that when he began his transition from political humor to art he decided to leave politics to the side, and he has done that, apart from a few exceptions such as his version of “Guernica,” which he titles “Venezuela, the horror and the hope.”
Along with the “villains,” the exposition also includes a triptych commissioned by Venezuelan baseball player Francisco Cervelli and dedicated to his favorite actor, Robert de Niro, who appears in it in his most famous roles such as in “Taxi Driver” and “Goodfellas.”
Edo has also dared to reinterpret “La Gioconda” – the true name of Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of a young woman that is widely known today as the “Mona Lisa” – and to feature other personalities such as Andy Warhol, the pop artist par excellence.
He works in pencil in all his works, scans the images and then colors them digitally, after which he prints them on cotton paper with a technique that leaves the colors “level” with the paper’s surface, and thus without texture.
One of the most interesting series in the exposition questions the recent proliferation of so-called “influencers,” who in reality have nothing to say, or any worthwhile “discourse” to provide, as Edo says.
The artist, however, has presented true influencers including Lincoln, painter Frida Kahlo, Marilyn Monroe and street artist Basquiat, all of them with cellphones in their hands.
Edo thinks that if any of them were alive now they would certainly be using the social networks.
“A guy like Martin Luther King today would have a YouTube channel, I’m sure,” Edo said, adding that he believes that the social networks are not bad, per se, but rather that everything depends on the use to which they are put.
With more than 300,000 followers on Instagram, Edo is one of the first Latino artists to enter the world of the “non-fungible token” (NFT) with the auction of his first digital work, titled “Selfish” in which he provides portraits of five “villains.”