Joan Cornellà – Cartoon Black Comedy

In today’s climate where everything is lightning fast including the average attention span, it’s tough to get anyone’s attention, let alone get them to focus on a piece. Artists are no doubt having this trouble everywhere, intricate and abstract pieces that require far more than a glance are going by the wayside while immediately striking yet likely more shallow works are the ones being celebrated by onlookers. This is not a problem for the hilariously dark sensibilities of Spanish artists Joan Cornellà.

Born in Barcelona in 1981, he completed his schooling in fine arts but found that he leaned more towards cartoons and comics rather than the typical works you may see in a gallery. Thanks to opportunities that allowed him to illustrate for magazines and publications that include none other than the New York Times, he developed his own very unique and now recognisable character design. This has now been the basis for his own self-published comic strips that have garnered him a huge online following.Disregarding all the flair of fine art Cornellà now has a structure that works impeccably, no doubt thanks to its simplicity. Today he is known for his short panel comics and often just solo pictures that fans on any social network will be familiar with. A smiling man, often in a suit is the foundation to many of his controversial pieces. The same face is transferred to a selection of similar looking characters that could easily be mistaken for a modest everyday comic. But it is the graphic, poignant and often surreal scenarios that Cornellà cooks up for his creations that really make his cartoons a talking point. Take for example the man on a date, completely enamored by the woman he is with. It is only a panel until he is being dragged down an alley and having his organs removed. When the doctor hands him what appears to be a kidney, he sees the words ‘call me’ etched into his bleeding organ and seems delighted that she left her number. This and many of his more absurd comics are funny in their own right, as he often uses casual violence, strange body deformities and reversed social norms to arrive at a completely unexpected conclusion.

This doesn’t mean however that Cornellà’s work is out of touch, far from it, one of his main targets of satire is mainstream culture. There is the man using a selfie stick to aim a pistol at himself, the car crash witness keen to take a photo with the struggling victim, and the dense model taking a snap with a starving child while bombs drop on the poor behind her. In this way Cornellà often pokes fun at not just our social norms and our increasingly vapid climate but gets to throw in some politics too. This is shown perfectly in his save the planet picture, which shows the well-known icon of someone putting waste in a bin, except this time the waste is a baby. This level of provocation and black humour makes Joan Cornellà an artist perfect for modern times, his exhibitions showcasing his work are slowly working their way across the globe.