In her relatively short career, Spanish artist Coco Capitán has seen her work displayed across some of the most prominent, and unusual, stages an artist could hope for. The walls of eminent galleries, the sides of lofty capital city buildings, the fronts of Gucci jumpers—all have borne the mark of Coco Capitán. “What are we going to do with all this future?” and “If you’ve seen it all close your eyes” are just two of the scribbled aphorisms that have earned Capitán her avalanche of online followers, including Gucci’s Alessandro Michele. But the young artist certainly isn’t doing it for the gram. “I want to create a human connection with my audience, to create an open path”, she vows. Through her existential musings and autobiographically driven photography and painting, Capitán fuels her pursuit for connection.
“I don’t consider myself one type of artist,” Capitán divulges when asked about her preferred discipline, “I like to have alternatives and diversity, a mix is important.” It’s a refreshing fluid approach, and it’s steered her on another cross-disciplinary voyage recently—one that returns to luxury fashion, and to a well-worn personal motif—the sea. Collaborating with Camper, Capitán has designed a practical workwear shoe in ode of, and fit for, sailing. “I have come to the Tramuntana in Mallorca for many years,” Capitán reminisces, “spending my holidays here gave me the idea to draw inspiration from this beautiful area and it was quite natural to take a nautical path with this collaboration.” Just as her famed Gucci collab saw Capitán offer up her mantras for other people’s introspection, the Lost Sailor shoe allows Capitán’s memories to reframe how we walk through this world.
If these collaborations prove one thing, it’s that Capitán pays no mind to artistic elitism. The artist knows that mass consumption is a symptom of our era, but seems wary to assert that art is the antithesis of the commercial world. Instead, she explores the nuanced, problematic, but intriguing intersections between the two—an opportunity to “create an open path” with her audience through both fine art and apparel.
With such a diverse and prolific output, an equally eclectic exhibition seems the perfect way to get to grips with Capitán, and that’s just what her recent retrospective Busy Living managed to do. Held at the MEP, the exhibition, and accompanying book, is a cross-medium, segmented nosedive into Capitán’s life. “My work is connected to my real experiences,” she explains—“it’s where I get my inspiration and draw references”. For such a playful artist, one of these vital references is, of course, her childhood—a motif which underpins much of the exhibition though youthful symbols and ideas of ‘becoming’. Portraits of the Spanish Olympic synchronised swimming team are notable standouts, harking to her own aquatic experiences as a swimmer growing up. Whilst these nostalgic sections are quintessentially light—and a little more commercial in their clean aesthetic—other nude portraits in grey hues see Capitán embrace stark incongruity and peculiar postures. Compositional curiosities occur elsewhere too—her paintings are often embedded with her text-based work like graffiti. If one thing’s clear from Capitán’s visual output, it’s that she isn’t afraid to eschew imposed boundaries between mediums and disciplines. The artist is guided by a more instinctual mastery over form and effect.
Camper & Coco Capitán is available online now.