Spain in October was warm and welcoming. Valencia is a beautiful and historical city that has plenty to offer while not being wholly given over to tourism. It’s got a fantastic display of street art that manages to be stylish, skilled and political.
Nazir Tanbouli and I went to Valencia to do the second part of our exchange with Valencia artists. In May Daniel Granero, Claudia Martinez, Ima Picó, Cristina Ghetti and Paula Bonet came to London to mount KEEPING AFLOAT, a group show about how artist keep going during tough economic times. Nazir and I turned up in Valencia with our version of KEEPING AFLOAT for La Clinica Mundana gallery. Nazir installed a work consisting of 26 ink drawings on long reams of paper, covering the walls of the gallery until it looked almost like a monochrome temple frieze, but with very disturbing images, I screened a selection of short films including a new one THE MOON, THE SEA AND THE CITY which I made especially for the show, using still and moving images I’d taken in Valencia during previous visits.
On the Saturday Nazir, with Daniel Granero assisting, painted a mural on the wall next to the gallery. It is on Carrer de Palomino a street that has a lot fo really interesting graffiti and murals, despite being just a tiny little street. But then, before Naz started to paint, we discovered something really interesting. There is a door in the wall and that door leads to the gallery back alley as we’d assumed but to a bomb shelter! A bomb shelter from the Civil War, when Valencia was the capital of the Republican government, and was beseiged by the (fascist) nationalists. Having a natural sympathy to anti-fascists, we felt honoured to paint this wall, and the mural, which Naz had thought about while being constantly aware of the current crisis in the world economy, took some kind of angry strength from that. Because unbelievably, it RAINED ON THAT DAY, RAINED A LOT, RAINED HARD. It was tough! Naz and Daniel painted in the rain, stopped when flash floods came and as soon as the huge raindrops ceased, ran out again and continued painting. The self image of painting under the smiling yellow Spanish sun, just did not come to fruition. A few people clutching umbrellas passed us, and looked as us like we were mad – the men painting and me filming, in the rain! By the time the gallery opened in the early evening, after the siesta, they could not believe it. Nobody had expected them to paint that day.