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June 15, 2017

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Spanish illustrator still pushing boundaries

SPANISH illustrator Joan Cornella is in Shanghai with his first exhibition in China. With more than 6 million followers on his social media network, the cartoonist is famous for his dark and unsettling humor, with disturbing themes presented through bright and colorful comics.

Cornella pokes fun at everything from people’s unnatural connection to social media and the masturbatory selfie culture, to controversial topics such as abortion, addiction and gender issues — no subject is off limits.

At first glance, Cornella’s work seems light-hearted and playful. His figures all share a generic blank smile and bright cheery color palette — akin to 1950s advertising or airline safety pamphlets.

However, upon further inspection, the overwhelming morbidness and unnerving nature shine through with unparalleled force. Black comedy, at its core, is about satirizing subjects that are traditionally prohibited, things that are seen as too sacred or off limits.

While some feel affronted by his work, many relate to it, laughing yet also feel bad for being moved by the humor.

In the artist’s own words, “I think we all laugh at misery. We must start from the idea that when we laugh, we laugh at someone or something. With empathy or not, there is always some degree of cruelty. In spite of that, I am aware that if one of my cartoons happened in real life I would not laugh at all.”


Date: Through June 25, 11am-7pm

Admission: 50 yuan

Venue: Shanghai M50 Art Space

Address: 6/F, 50 Moganshan Rd



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