We welcome in Mexican-born artist Rorro Berjano as showcase select works from his ongoing ceramic series Santos, Difuntos, Dieux te Fetiches. Read on as Berjano gives us an in-depth look at these ceramic works which explore the various influences with homages to Basquait, Notorious B.I.G. Wild Style and graffiti culture at large . . .
1xRUN: Tell us a little bit about this series of works, anything immediate you would like us to highlight about these pieces?
Are these pieces part of a recent theme, series or show that you had? If so how did they fit into that given grouping?
Rorro: This works belong to a series tha was made for my last one man show in Delimbo Gallery (Spain). Titled “Santos, Difuntos, Dieux te Fétiches” (Saints, Deceased, Gods and Fetishes).
The works selected for 1xRUN are charged with personal and autobiographical content. What I would call objects of fetishes, power and representations of leaving or deceased, objects that play a great role in my personal history, shaping my live and artistic carrier. Influencing the references to Wild Style, the iconography of the Black Panthers, the New York Yankees or Oakland Raiders caps. The bones are homage to dead artists, like Basquiat, Madiba or Jackson Pollock. Classic spray can brands. This all talk of a personal history, and speak directly about my artistic process.
1x: What materials were used to create these original pieces?
Rorro: The Notorious B.I.G piece is oil paint over metal sheet. The Mike Tyson piece is painted with oil over a boxing glove. The rest of the works are ceramics, covered with white paste, transparent smalt and fired.
1x: When was this collection originally created? How long does each piece take to create from start to finish?
Rorro: This series was completed between 2014 and 2016. The entire series is made up of around 100 original pieces. As I mentioned earlier it’s hard to tell how long it takes to complete any piece. But as example Notorious B.I.G., would take anywhere between 15 days and month of work, they are highly elaborate pieces, and as I do not use sketches, they have a longer production time. But you always have the component of surprise, I know when I start it, but not when I be finished.
1x: Tell us how the idea and execution came about for these works?
Rorro: All works are derived from the word’s etymology that make up the title. Works were created in a rather anarchic way, I don’t start and finish works in one go, I work in an erraic manner, sometimes in groups, I might have ten works started and I’ll confront them as there dialogue suggest to me. I try and work in a calm way as to allow the works to unravel themselves (metaphorically speaking). I never sketch, I start with an idea and I work on it as I explained. It’s the work itself the dictates when it is finished.
1x: What is unique about these pieces compared with your other work?
Rorro: This pieces in contrast to previous works are different in their manufacture. They are a lot more elaborate, they are a lot more detailed in the language I use, and there are a lot more narrative than other works from previous periods, where extetics was more important that the conceptual content.
1x: Why should people buy this one of these original works?
Rorro: I have worked on prints and other reproductions, but as a creator and an art consumer that it is infinitely more interesting and of greater value to buy an original, they have a unique personal story, from the object itself, where it was made, to the uncontrollable variants derived from the execution. When you are using used gloves as a canvas or a metal sheet, that may suffer weathering, you are adding components that add identity to work and makes them original and independent, the support has its own history, all this makes the object something really special.
1x: Describe this series in one gut reaction word.
Rorro: To describe the works in one word is something I find complex. but because of the autobiographical content, I could describe it as personal. There are such accumulation of concepts and techniques in this series, that it is impossible to describe in one word.
1x: When did you first start making art? What was your first piece?
Rorro: I grew up in my father’s art studio. Since I was a child I was surrounded by art, and I painted from a young age. But my first show if you could call it that, was at the age of 15 or 16, at the time I painted landscapes on canvas on the street. I also liked going out bombing and graffiting. My first show in an art gallery was at the age of 20. There are works that I did at the age of 16, when I see them now I find there’s something interesting in their naivety.
1x: What artists inspired you early on?
Rorro: My first artistic references came from the Abstract Expressionist, American artists William De Kooning, Cy Twombly, Jason Pollock, etc. and Europeans like the Cobra group or Grupo Spur. I also liked tribal art from a young age, especially African art.
1x: What artists inspire you now?
Rorro: Now I’m really inspired by popular and folkloric Latin American artists, the post impressionist, the bad painting, the outsider art, Afro-merican painters like Kerry James Marshall, Bill Traylor. A painter that I have admired for many years and is a reference in my works, is the Filipino artist Manuel Ocampo. I’m also a fanatic of the Cuban artist Jose Bedia. In this day in time with the over saturation derived from the media globalization it is hard to pinpoint, we are over informed, but this artist and stiles described could be some of the important references you find in my art.
1x: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what? If not then what is your environment like when you work?
Rorro: Yes, I do listen to music when I’m working, but I also love the silence. I tend to listen to music that adds something to whatever I’m doing. But if I had to talk about the music that I listen to most in my carrier, jazz would be the name. because of my Caribbean connection I listen to lots of 70/80’s Salsa, a lot of hip hop and popular music like Cumbia and Afrocuban folk.
1x: If you could collaborate with any living artist who would it be and why? Any deceased artists ?
Rorro: I would love to do a piece with Manuel Ocampo, but art is something so profound and personal to me, I think it would be complicated to see four hands at work, aldo that I love to work with Manuel. [For the latter] I think it be fun to work with Jean-Michel Basquiat or A.R. Penck.
1x: What was the first piece of art that you bought? Do you still have it? The last?
Rorro: The first was from N’Kisi from Congo, piece of African work. Yes, it is still with me, treasured like a relic. The last were two lithographs from Jose Bedia.