estado de alarma
Regardless if you take COVID-19 and its various mutations serious or if you belong to those people that prefer to live a neglectful existence in a parallel reality, the concluding legal restrictions connected to the pandemic sure have a major impact on your life - doesn’t matter where you live or what you do (or did) for a living. In the case of Argentinian artist Nicolás Romero it lead to being stranded in Spain with zero chances of returning to Buenos Aires.
“I currently reside in Madrid“, he explains to Lodown. “In the first months of the state of alarm I tried to return to Argentina... and there wasn’t a way for me to do so. Luckily I started to receive proposals from different areas in Europe that made me decide to stay. I think that the pandemic uncovered internal situations or made us take more direct decisions. It’s difficult, but I accepted this as a new chapter in my life.“
Neither being able to leave the country nor re-entering his own, Romero rented a small studio and started painting - suddenly being an illegal immigrant trapped in a state that once colonized his own. Besides the necessity to adapt to his new life, including maneuvering through lots of bureaucratic obstacles, he then learned to get used to the possibilities of new media since festivals and shows - as we knew them - had to readjust their program to digital platforms.
“In a way, I feel that the pandemic intensified certain ways of working. As artists we have a more isolated kind of life. It has two extreme poles, one is instrospection/work and the other is a state of utmost sociability... obviously the latter is the one that has been affected the most. During my first stage in Madrid I was painting for my exhibition in Los Angeles. Madrid had decided to make selective quarantines depending on the rate of contagion. I had to check every Friday whether the neighborhood of my studio was going to be closed or not. COVID interfered with the way we’re able to perceive art... and therefore intensified new ways to look at art.“
The result of his extended stay in Madrid was on display via LA-based Ochi Projects, that transformed Romero’s new series of paintings into a virtual presentation. Titled “Estado de Alarma“, the artworks center around still life’s filled with symbolism of personal and universal significance, images of consumption, politics, history and pop cultural references. In other words: his paintings address the human condition of now, deconstructing collective experiences through the artist’s subjective lens.
“I grew up in a city that was always chaotic. I lived near downtown, so I always passed by places where demonstrations were held on regular basis. Politics were always present in my day to day life... my parents also always talked to me about current affairs within our country and beyond. In the 90s Argentina turned towards a more liberal economic system, and this obviously opened doors to American culture to settle down more prominently. I grew up looking at Goya books, as well as cheering for Ninja Turtles, Disney, Coca-Cola, and so on. Latin America has a love-hate relationship with the United States. Having said that: I also feel that we currently live in a way more homogeneous culture that is globally connected... it is difficult to distinguish identities nowadays.“