CASI GRATIS is the first solo exhibition by street artist, writer and activist Casa De Balneario in Berlin. In addition, our shop offers prints of his black-humoured art in different sizes!
"Art has always been a part of my life, since I was a child I liked art and I loved painting. My parents then brought me to a course where children learn to paint. Later, after school, I went to an art institute, learned art history and tried different techniques. When I was about 20 y.o., I started painting the style like now as Casa de Balneario. With a lot of black ink! I liked the look, but I still didn't have a steady direction. I didn't have the right concept! And because I didn't know what to say yet, there were no texts on the pictures.
Then I started to study literature and stopped painting completely. I wrote two books. The first book in 2010, the second in 2017 - the third will be published in 2023. They are short stories and it's about work*. One story is about a man who has to wear a funny costume to work, another one about someone who notices a physical change since he's been in his new job. They are ironic stories, funny observations and characters. I like Franz Kafka or the poet Nicanor Parra.
I often wonder about the statements I hear and the realities that people accept. With humour, I want to to ask questions. What do I get for working that much? A new car? Why do I have to constantly buy something new? With my art I want to make people think by creating a distance from everyday life.
I soon knew what I wanted to say in my short stories - but it wasn't until relatively late, I was already an author, that I started painting again. At that time I wanted to publish a magazine, it should be - of course - about the subject work.
The pictures I painted for the magazine had all text. I picked up various phrases and painted them as quotes on the pictures. I painted the sentences on my works and that was the beginning of Casa de Balneario. I was 36 years old and I finally had an idea of what I wanted to paint.
There are many dangerous and violent places all over the continent. Uruguay and Montevideo are fortunately peaceful and balanced as a society. The middle class is the largest group in the country. There is a long tradition of social and liberal policies - for example, women's voting rights have existed since 1932, same-sex marriage is possible since 2013, and marijuana is legal. Uruguay had the first welfare state in South America. As a result, the gap between rich and poor was relatively small and Uruguay was able to develop well.
Unfortunately, we are currently in the process of deconstructing this useful order. The neoliberal spirit has been spreading in our country for the last few years. And this is slowly but surely being felt. There are now neighbourhoods in Montevideo where you are no longer safe. That didn't exist when I was young. There used to be many places that people shared. For example, the beach. People from all walks of life met there, there was an exchange. But little by little, different forces are trying to privatize as much as possible. Beaches, the health care system, of course, and the housing market. Consumption is seen as a universal solution, short-term profit counts! This creates inequality and is then the cause of urban violence in our neighbouring countries. As private schools are getting better and better, but also smaller and smaller, this division has long-term consequences - good education for everyone has always been a basic principle of politics in Uruguay.
I want to do something about these developments and art is my tool. The tradition of political art in South America has created its own look. Political demands are painted on the walls in large letters. I also see myself as an activist, a graphic-activist.”