The newest exhibition at UNIX Gallery, entitled ‘Always Shameless’, has debuted surrounding a flurry of legal drama for artist Eugenio Merino, after being taken to court to defend freedom of speech in his native Spain. In 2011, Merino revealed two highly publicised sculptures of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, preserved in Coca-Cola refrigerator/coffin hybrids. Merino was sued by The Fundación Nacional Francisco Franco, the organisation responsible for preserving the legacy of Franco. He was taken to court on numerous occasions and eventually went on to win every case.
Throughout his legal obstacles, Merino continued creating multiple sculptures of controversial political figures and dictators, which make up the exhibition. The title of the exhibition is a direct reference to the 1993 Coca-Cola slogan, ‘Always’, and the choice to combine politics with the world’s most recognisable brand allows the nature of the work to become more accessible to a larger audience through the lens of pop culture.
The exhibition’s main feature, ‘Always Motherfuckers’ is a series of Coca-Cola refrigerators encasing the likes of George W. Bush, Vladmir Putin, Fidel Castro and Franco to name a few, all suspended upright in an eerie, unconscious state. The work gives a wry look at how easily the legacies of these tyrannical figures are kept alive. Jonathan Jones of The Guardian stated “It seems incredible that General Franco is still oppressing artists in Spain beyond the grave.” ‘Egomaniacs’ consists of two miniature statues of Kim Jong Ill and his son/successor Kim Jong Un with a spotlight projecting their larger than life statues onto a blank wall.
Eugenio Merino was born in Spain in 1975 and graduated from the Complutense University of Madrid. He has been the subject of many solo and group exhibits worldwide ranging from Madrid, New York and much of Europe. He works predominantly from his studio in Madrid, Spain.
The exhibit will run until July 12, 2014.
-UNIX Gallery, 532 W 24th St, New York NY