The Magical Spell of the Bell and Stay Away are eloquent statements. Victor shows how institutions—schools, churches, military service, and others—are standardization mills designed to mold people into docile members of the system. It is no coincidence that some of these paintings are based on illustrations found in books and magazines produced by public education authorities in the United States, showing happy, uniformed children who have been transformed into little adults.
The artist refers indirectly to aspects of his own life: He was expelled from art school because he would not conform to the expectations and demands of conventional teaching. These paintings are a symbolic acknowledgement of the tension that exists between control and creativity, between training and imagination, and of the fact that thinking, reflection, and art are largely seen as unnecessary or subversive elements in a world driven by capitalism’s need for extreme productivity.
Victor Castillo tells stories in his paintings. As if it were a contemporary chronicle, his work appropriates the narrative logic of illustrations for children’s stories, and the aesthetics of classic animations, to present us with allegories about human nature and current affairs. His humorous and colorful work has also been described as political poetry coming from the Latin American experience. Victor was born in Santiago, Chile in 1973, moved to Barcelona, Spain in 2006, and then to Los Angeles, California in 2010, where he currently resides.
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