From the 13th to the 16th of October, ANU’s School of Art and the Embassy of Spain co-hosted a joint exhibition of works by Spanish artist Julio Falagán, as well as by students commended by Spain’s Torres Scholarship. The exhibition was held in the School of Art’s Photospace Gallery.

The Torres Scholarship, established in 2002, aims to provide young Australian artists with the opportunity to visit Spain on a tour organised by the Embassy to give students a “first-hand experience of Spanish culture.”

The reception on the 13th was opened by Denise Ferris, Head of School, and Cesar Espada Sanchez, Deputy Head of Mission and manager of the Embassy’s cultural portfolio. Sanchez praised the exhibited works, particularly those of 2013 winner Francesca Larkin, whose paintings he described as “colourful, provocative art.”

He also spoke of the challenges for Falagán, to “think of something that is not very expensive… and can take place in any country.” Falagán ultimately achieved this, creating a body of work composed of five small mixed-media pieces that combine political and subversive subject matter onto idyllic images of the landscape. Falagán also provided enlarged posters of each of the works, and he encouraged attendees to take these posters for personal use.

What resulted was Falagán’s body of work that was “all about creativity” and allowed regular people to be “collectors of contemporary art for free… [connecting] art to the people.”

Falagán told Woroni that his work was a “criticism of the art market. For me, art should be more democratic. You can take a poster for free, because the art is not only for rich people who can pay a lot of money for original paintings.”

“This is the only art that people without any money can hang on their walls. When you go to someone’s house and you see their walls, you can see their pocket. This is not good,” he remarked.

When asked about his inspirations, Falagán told Woroni that “my inspiration is life. I like the work of other artists, but I’m very critical of their art. I prefer to talk about life and the happenings around me. You can only talk about the things in your life, close to you. For me, this is art.”

He also agreed that the world was very unequal. “The first theme in my project is power; I like to put myself in the place of downtrodden people, or people who lack education. I’m in a good place – I’m an artist, and I have a place to speak. So I have to help poor people who can’t do this, especially since I was from a village.”

Falagán also had reservations about Australia’s history and current treatment of indigenous peoples, which he called “scary.”

“Currently, things are not going in a good direction. If you’re in Melbourne, it’s great; it’s a very good city… On the other side, if you see another reality of people from another country coming here and replacing the original people, this is very crazy. The problem is alive.”

“The big cities are very good, friendly, and cultural… But in Alice Springs you can see reality and it’s very bad.”

Overall, Falagán was enjoying his stay in Australia, and expressed desire to live in Melbourne because of its warm and artistic nature.

Image: Julio Falagán, this time I believe, 2015, inkjet print.