by Manu SharmaSep 22, 2023
FWENCLUB is a curated blockchain platform that functions as a community for both, popular creatives and their audience, where folx can participate in a constantly shifting ecosystem of authentic and unique art pieces that they may collect or trade. These works each possess their own seal of authenticity, and such a social art marketplace is typical of the emerging NFT art space that builds itself upon buyers vying for collections possessing totally unique pieces, as well as works-as-editions. In April 2022, FWENCLUB launched its first Non-fungible technology collection, MOAR by famed Spanish cartoonist, Joan Cornellà, which reached the top collection as per 24-hour volume on OpenSea. As their artist statement states, “This is the story of a mansion in the metaverse called MOAR. It is a building occupied by 5,555 creatures with their souls minted by the ERC721 blockchain as NFTs. While the world is in the midst of a lockdown due to the invasion of aliens, guests staying at the MOAR, which include humans, zombies and cyborgs, live peacefully together. Each is unique and hand-drawn by Spanish artist Joan Cornellà, using over 180 salient attributes. MOAR is a rather unusual mansion where you can find shops, games and virtual exhibitions. Let us witness one of the greatest art and metaverse experiences together.”
Presenting himself and his work, the illustrator tells STIR, “I am from Spain and my works usually consist of smiley men and women done in childishly detailed brushstrokes in a variety of awkward and sometimes violent situations. Behind all the cheery style and bright palette, most of my work comments on the absurdity of our society and the dark side of human nature.” This sums up Cornellà’s practice succinctly, which has won great acclaim in a relatively short period of time, for its morbidly humorous, and often viscerally unhinged play on modern urban living.
To continue discussing the artist’s fame, he has become something of a household name, as well as a particularly noteworthy crossover in the art world: despite having a rich history, subversive Euro comics have often been overshadowed by their more mainstream American and Japanese counterparts. However, even those that do not actively engage with this genre are likely to be familiar with Cornellà’s practice owing to how ubiquitous it has become. What no doubt contributes to his success is the fact that he remains a creator very much at the heart of modern pop culture, whose work has not diluted itself in order to widen its appeal: it is just as jarringly provocative today as it has always been, almost mocking and jeering at our shared cultural zeitgeist. His first book, titled Mox Nox, was released in 2013. It was a smash hit collection of his comics that brought folx all over the world around to his very distinct brand of unsettlingly black comedy; all bright colours and somehow dead-seeming eyes. Cornellà’s follow-up serving Zonzo, which came out two years later, cemented him as one of today’s most recognisable artists, and he has been disturbing and delighting audiences across nations ever since.
When asked to elaborate on the deeper meanings contained within his work, Cornellà says, “I prefer that my practice speaks for itself. If I tried to explain my work too much, it would lose all sense, and the point in the end is to maintain the open interpretation that these pieces encourage my audience to have. Everyone can take something different away from my art, and that is more interesting to me than if I give a closed and univocal meaning to it, because that would be as if I were telling people what to think. I prefer someone else’s interpretation of my work over my own.” Standing consistently with this perspective is the lack of dialogue in the artist’s comics, which can often be as short as a single frame. Cornellà’s work allows one to place their own interpretation - most enjoyably - on the before and after of what is depicted and presented on the page. His usage of symbols that speak to the banalities and fads of modern living guides us and makes his pieces seem familiar, but they ultimately take place in a purgatorial world that is simultaneously alien and dangerous. His universe is bizarre and malicious in its treatment of its inhabitants and does not merely remain indifferent to their suffering, but actively pokes fun at their plight. Here, it remains up to us to connect any larger narratives we may imagine, through the snapshots he provides on the pages he paints.
Cornellà explains that he started making silent comics as an experiment on social media, which has been instrumental in presenting his work to a wide audience. He says, “Most people know me through the internet, so I owe a lot to this medium. By always trying different things, I can express myself through my works in various other ways as well. It’s always good to explore new possibilities, and here comes my first-ever NFT collection!” He continues telling STIR, “I have been working with AllRightsReserved for several years in order to undertake exhibitions in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The works I have displayed there include figures, sculptures, and prints as well. They recently set up a new trading platform for creative collectables, and that made me think that working with FWENCLUB could perhaps bring new and interesting creations by me to my audience, in a very fresh way.” AllRightsReserved is a Hong Kong-based studio that was established in 2003, and since then, has worked with several internationally acclaimed artists, among which Cornellà is no exception. ARR places him among some of the most recognisable practitioners creating metaverse art today, each of whom have entered the mainstream consciousness through work, that curiously does not necessarily conform to the tastes of mainstream audiences.
Cornellà ends his interview with STIR by discussing his plans for the future. “I am working on new collaborations with AllRightsReserved, and I can’t talk much about these as yet, but I can say that we are going to reveal the results soon.”
In Japan, the artist is now exhibiting his surreal humorous work. Cornellà envisions huge collaborations in the future as he transitions his entirely digital approach to canvas and mixed media pieces in his current exhibit.