Saturday, 11 December 2021

A Favorite Painter

I put on my green and white striped suit and walked into Arco, the huge art fair in Madrid. It was right before the pandemic and the place was packed with gallerists, collectors, artists and their admirers. One painting stood out from all the other works: ‘Quiet Listening’ by Peter Uka. The painting depicted an elegant young man listening to records. It sang of another era and yet it is completely contemporary. It spoke of memory, music, and beauty. This summer (2021) I was delighted to interview Peter Uka for Metal magazine. We talked about art, music, 1970s culture, and identity. You can read the full article here

Visit Peter Uka’s solo exhibition, ‘Longing’, at Mariane Ibrahim gallery if you happen to be in Chicago. It’s on view until January 15th, 2022. 



Peter Uka, Quiet Listening, 2020. Courtesy the Artist and Mariane Ibrahim

Denge Pose II, 2018. Courtesy the Artist and Mariane Ibrahim

Peter Uka, Still Riding 2, 2021. Courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Meandering in Marrakesh



Recently I had the chance to go to Marrakesh to celebrate the birthday of my beloved friend, Patricia, a poet of the senses, alchemist, and a muse to many. It’s only a couple of hours from where I live and I’ve always dreamt of going to Morocco so I packed my most demure 1970s garb (inspired by peak Yves Saint Laurent), a silk scarf, certificates, and a sketchbook and headed down to Marrakesh. As we drove into the city, we saw stone walls, discontent donkeys with matted fur, and a couple of camels crouching beneath palm trees. We walked into the labyrinth of the old souk, down shadowy alleyways, until we arrived at an inconspicuous wooden door. 

Suddenly a French man and his dog opened the door and invited us inside a riad. We walked into this secret courtyard dripping with vines, bright foliage and blossoms. Hundreds of pomegranates lay at our feet. He led us past yellow-painted doors, to our colorful rooms, each decorated with different local embroideries, fresh flowers, and books in various languages. When we returned from our lunch of salads, falafel, spicy hummus, and kiwi juice, a fire was blazing in the hearth of every room.

Over the next few days, we explored the city on foot. We admired the sunken gardens of orange trees and palace ruins. Later, a cool café offered shade and bitter orange cake as Stevie Wonder played in the background. An old man threw a live monkey at our friend as we crossed the famous Djemaa el-Fna square. The creature clung to his arm before he handed it back. A meter away, a fellow wrapped a long cobra around a boy’s shoulders. A nearby table was heaped with fruit, being sliced and squeezed into fresh juice. There was so much to look at in every direction. Later, we drank the colors at the Yves Saint Laurent museum and gardens, overflowing with hot pink bougainvillea, blue architecture, and tall cactus plants. There was a beautiful little restaurant where we sampled orange blossom, pistachio, and date ice creams.

Another day we headed to a different market. My friend Marta and I bought harissa and loose tea made of dried verbena, flower petals, and curved leaves. We asked some local women for directions and they kindly walked us to the square we were looking for. On Patricia’s birthday we sat at a long candlelit table and feasted on crisp pastries stuffed with soft cheese, crunchy salads, hot pears sprinkled with cinnamon, massive artichokes, limpid green beans, clay pots of vegetable stew, and a date cake covered in white, creamy frosting and nuts.








HERE ARE A FEW PLACES I RECOMMEND VISITING:

The Badi Palace, a large ruin with pool, trees, and a view from upstairs.

Bahia Palace, an elaborately decorated palace.

The Saadian Tombs.

The Yves Saint Laurent Museum & Jardin Majorelle & the small Berber Museum. You can get all three on one ticket. If you love fashion, the bookstore at the YSL Museum is excellent – bring a tote bag! The restaurant in the garden is delicious. Try the desserts.

Musée des Confluences, archeology and there’s a famous coffee shop inside.

Djemaa El Fna- a lively (intense) square filled with tourists by day and locals on weekend nights. You can find snake charmers, sad monkeys, hunks of meat, and outdoor dining at communal tables.

Various markets: carry cash in the local currency, and bargain. Look for spices, unusual teas, necklaces, leather goods, cotton pajamas, and argan oil. Try the fresh pomegranate juice.

Leave the center, dressed appropriately (cover your limbs), and explore. There are lots of fascinating things to see. I felt more comfortable when walking with a two-meter-tall Dutchman…so go with a friend.





Saturday, 16 October 2021

The Pleasures Come to London


Koenig Books, Frieze Art Fair 2021


After years away from my second home (in my heart, not in bricks) I finally flew to London. Aside from museum-hopping and eating Indian food, I visited the coolest bookshops in the city, discovered new authors, distributed my book, met up with friends, and had some wild times in East London. The highlight of the trip was seeing my art book, ‘The Pleasures of Hackney Road’, at Koenig Books in Frieze Art Fair. 

Here’s where you can find my art book in London:

The Broadway Bookshop. Burley Fisher Books. Pages of Hackney. Gosh!. Housmans Books. Koenig Books at Frieze.

It’s also available in 12 other bookstores and art museums. Write me on Instagram @thefortunyverse if you would like to find a copy at your nearest bookseller.


The second draft...


My book at Gosh! in Soho




Sunday, 1 August 2021

Summertime Words

 

My discreet summer look.




Have you read all the articles and juicy interviews in my portfolio? Check out my conversations with Jeremy Scott, Kaws, Futura 2000, Massive Attack, KR, Nan Golden, Alec Soth, Alan Aldridge, and many more at margofortuny.com .

Have a great summer!

Friday, 16 April 2021

Come Into The Fortunyverse

Exciting news: I have a new artist website! You can see my drawings, performance art (yes, I love rubbing paint on naked skin, dancing at bus stops,  and lifting shamans into the air), photography, and paintings at thefortunyverse.com. Check out www.thefortunyverse.com and let me know what you think.





Thursday, 31 December 2020

Use Your Illusions: My First Exhibition in Madrid

This year has been hell at times and yet there came a point where I woke up and started acting with urgency. Between the global pandemic, two members of my family in life-or-death situations (unrelated to Covid), and the intense loneliness of spending so much time alone, I thought 2020 might break me. But at the end of summer, suddenly I took action. I wanted something good to happen! I created an artist book and distributed it to numerous bookstores and art museums, where it was received well. I started drawing and painting like my life depended on it. I was invited to participate in two important exhibitions (details are in the previous two posts.) And in December 2020, I had my first dual exhibition in Madrid. 

'Use Your Illusions' examined the purpose of illusions and memories, nostalgia and desire, questioning whether these trips into imagination are positive or detrimental to one's present reality. The exhibition featured both my figurative paintings and the surreal analog collages of the Spanish artist Ella Jazz. We both lived in California at the same time, before meeting in Madrid, and this experience greatly influenced our artwork and worldview.


'Use Your Illusions,' Exhibition View, 2020


'Walking Up To Your Street', Margo Fortuny
Acrylic on canvas,  26 x 18 cm


'The Fighter', Margo Fortuny, 2020
Acrylic on canvas, 80 x 60 cm


Beto looking at 'Love Me When I'm Gone' by M. Fortuny. 
Photo: Larry Balboa


'The Trip', Margo Fortuny, 2020
Acrylic on canvas, 50 x 65 cm


'The Lover', Margo Fortuny, 2020
Acrylic on canvas, 70 x140 cm


'Use Your Illusions' Madrid 2020. Photo: Larry Balboa


Here I am outside 'Use Your Illusions', at Pavilion. 
December 2020. Photo: Diego & The Blue Sea


For more images of my artwork check out my Instagram @margofortuny .


Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Dear Jack Kerouac: Reading in Gala Knorr's 'Tumbleweeds'

A few weeks ago, I read Gala Knörr's letters to Jack Kerouac, along with four other artists, for her exhibition 'Tumbleweeds' in Bilbao. We read lively letters in a seance-like performance on Zoom (due to the pandemic), in between jazz played by a live saxophonist. The reading premiered on December 14th on Youtube. (Mine is in English at 36:10 if you're curious.)


"Tumbleweeds' is a project based on the fictitious epistolary relationship that artist Gala Knörr established with her "silent mentor" Jack Kerouac. A mentor whose answers could only be found within his oeuvre. Modelling her writing after Satori in Paris, a cognac infused short novel based on Jack Kerouac's search for his family origins on a ten day trip to Paris and Brest, in which the author alludes to a spiritual awakening, yet finds said 'kick in the eye' in a series of Parisian pilgrimage-like extravagant encounters. Knörr narrates similar anecdotical rendez-vous over a four month period at a residency at Cité Internationale des Arts. Utilizing the figure as the one of a confidant, she invokes Jack's spirit, in a seance like performative activation reading of her letters as if we were in a 'Shakespeare&Co' tea party."  -Nicolas de Ribou/ Gala Knörr

The exhibition is on until January 8, 2021 at Torre de Arriz. Go see it if you're in Bilbao. 







Monday, 28 December 2020

I Danced with a Flautist: Performing in William Mackrell's Exhibition at The Ryder Gallery

Last month I had the pleasure of performing in 'Hold Up', William Mackrell's opening piece of his exhibition 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night' at The Ryder Gallery. The live performance (with all safety measures in effect) featured the British artist, Alicia Cano, Manuel León, and I acting as a band. I danced around with maracas and gripped the microphone like a lead singer, trying not to channel Axl Rose more than necessary. We interpreted various songs Mackrell had recorded from phone hotlines as a "monument to waiting." How relevant for 2020!

The exhibition at The Ryder, runs until January 29th, 2021. Go see it if you're in Madrid, then wander around Lavapies and go out to lunch. Tia Carlota and Los Chuchis are fun spots to have a bite to eat. 


William Mackrell, Hold Up, 2020
Live performance at The RYDER, Madrid. 19th November 2020
15 min. Air Europa 3.57′ / NHS England Switchboard 3.28′ / Direct Auto 2.10′ / TeamKnowHow 3.02′
Performers: William Mackrell, Alicia Cano, Margo Fortuny and Manuel León.



William Mackrell, Hold Up, 2016-2020 (detail)
Record player, Hi-Fi System (110 x 60 cm), steel hole, speakers & cable
6 Vinyl discs Sound loop, variable Display cabinet (120 x 90 cm)



William Mackrell, Do not go gentle into that good night.
Installation view at The RYDER, Madrid, November 2020




Phone footage of the performance, 2020

Photographs courtesy of The Ryder, Madrid. 
 

Sunday, 27 December 2020

The Pleasures of Hackney Road

This year I wrote and illustrated my first artist book! The Pleasures of Hackney Road: Five Tales of Wildness features drawings and stories about my adventures in London. You can find it at two major contemporary art institutions (The CCCB and La Casa Encendida) and at numerous bookstores. There's also a Spanish edition, Los Placeres de Hackney Road, which is now in its second printing. 

You can write me on Instagram @margofortuny if you would like to order a copy internationally or stock it. 

It's the first in a series of books about different cities I've lived in. What cities do you dream of moving to, if you just move spontaneously?






Holding my book in Madrid


The inside of 'The Pleasures of Hackney Road' by Margo Fortuny

A drawing from 'The Pleasures of Hackney Road' by Margo Fortuny


At El Imparcial in Madrid

At the CCCB bookshop in Barcelona



Monday, 11 November 2019

I Love London



I returned to London last week, just for a few days. It felt like coming home, walking the familiar streets, seeing friends, and eating delicacies that are hard to find in Spain, like spicy Indian food or very soft chocolate chip cookies. I love listening to friends speaking numerous languages on the tube and watching the stylish people rush around the city. On Thursday night, my friend Sarah took me to a Halloween-themed magazine launch party in a members club. The host handed us red cocktails in mock blood-transfusion bags with a long straw, before introducing us to a flirtatious couple. Afterwards we went to Ridley Road for a dance in a bar with wood-paneled walls. I think a Klaxon was playing disco records that night.

Stephanie, a vegan chef, shows me her chains in Dalston

We cruised by a few more pubs before ending up at my favourite one, The Gun, in Hackney. As soon as we arrived, a petite blond in a zip-up patent leather moto suit smiled, and put her arms around me. She complimented my long blue 70s dress and the yellow flowers in my hair. I told her she reminded me of Marianne Faithfull in 'The Girl on a Motorcycle'. I ordered a Paloma and the bartender recognized me from ten years ago, when we used to go to the same parties. I bumped into a friend who invited us to an Italodisco warehouse party in Hackney Wick. A tall, slim, androgynous girl with short dark hair caught my eye. She wore a sheer black blouse, a minimal black bra, a scrap of black underwear...and fringed ass-less chaps. Her boyish looks and clean face added a casual touch to the outfit. It felt like Prince was in the room. She was enchanting. She was from Georgia. We all danced and mingled until the bar closed.

The Dove pub

The rest of my days in London were filled with museum exhibitions and fascinating conversations with beloved friends. I reunited with a friend who had been living in jungles in Thailand and Peru for years. We met as teenagers at a rave in Vauxhall, lived together (she kindly let me stay on her sofa when I first moved to London), worked together (she opened a burlesque supper club and asked me to DJ there), met up on an island in Thailand six years ago...and rode a moped on rocky roads, while a bird flew through my hair, almost causing us to fly off a cliff. I told her to write a book about all the things she learned in the jungle. We drank tea, ate cookies, and told sexy stories.

Homemade cookies by the multi-talented Andreas

Another afternoon I went to the V&A Museum to revisit the excellent Mary Quant show and have tea with my friend Toby. (Quant probably invented the modern miniskirt, thus she is my hero.) I met Toby at a Turkish pool hall in Dalston back when Mark Ronson drank there, surrounded by girls dancing until their shoes broke. (I was one of those girls... I lifted up my friend Karen in an attempt to replicate the final scene in 'Dirty Dancing' and though she is light, on the way down one heel broke off.) The pool hall days are over. Now we meet in art museums. He told me about contextualizing my art with theory, and recommended analysing what I love and hate to arrive at a deeper meaning when creating artworks...

The Ed Ruscha rooms at the Tate Modern

Below is a list of my favourite spots in London, and I'll post some pictures tonight on Instagram @thefortunyverse

FOOD:

Indian food: Dishoom in Shoreditch (they have a mocktail that tastes like snow, it's amazing.)
Tayaabs: a popular, inexpensive, chaotic, classic place behind the mosque in Whitechapel. Order the Saag Aloo and the Peshwari naan. Both places have long lines so try to go off-peak or early.

Sweets: Gelupo has dreamy gelato and the best hot chocolate outside of Torino. Get a small gianduja hot chocolate with whipped cream and go back for the ice cream another day so you don't have a diabetic arrest.
Hummingbird Bakery has the best cupcakes. I like Black Bottom or the gingerbread one.
Ben's Cookies. There are numerous branches. These cookies are great to bring to friends. They're soft, chewy, and very chocolately.

Brunch/ Hangover Food: Stone Cave in Dalston has a wonderful shakshuka (eggs poached in a delicious tomato stew, spiced with paprika, nutmeg, and chili peppers.)
The Diner (Dalston, Shoreditch, Soho) has In &Out-style 'hangar fries', a great vegan breakfast burger and thick milkshakes, with or without booze.

ART:

Usually the Barbican and the V & A have the most unforgettable exhibitions, though you should also see what's on at the Hayward Gallery, the Photographers Gallery in Soho, the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain. If you're going to London soon, check out the Blake show at the Tate Britain and the Lisa Bruce exhibition. Skip the Olafur E at the Tate Modern. (He's usually fantastic but this show is claustrophobic and jammed with people taking selfies. Go upstairs to the free Ed Ruscha rooms instead.) The Tate Modern gift shop is very good too. Peckham has lots of cool little galleries. Sprueth Magers is usually fun and has hip openings.

SHOPPING/ PRESENTS:

Portobello Road: On Friday morning there is a large vintage clothes and antiques market. There's usually nowhere to change so wear a leotard or tights. Next to the vintage stalls, Ladbroke Grove side, there's a little store called What Katie Did that sells a variety of seamed stockings and 50s-style lingerie. I found a beautiful 1970s Biba-style jacket for 40 pounds (after bargaining) and a blue leather Prada belt for 10 pounds. The Biba dresses were 380 pounds, so I only glanced at them longingly.

Broadway Market on Saturday, around lunchtime/ early afternoon. There are 2 excellent art bookstores here and in the market itself, there's a cool French girl who sells wool kilts and retro pieces. Borough Olives sells tasty pestos, harissa, and delicious green olives. This is a fun market for people-watching, pesto sampling, and it's not crowded or touristy like Borough Market. The Dove pub, on the same street,  has a large variety of international beers as well as board games.

Liberty London: A cool but classic, expensive store in a Tudor-style building, made partially of old ships. Upstairs, there are bolts of the famous Liberty-print fabrics. The perfume and stationary sections are interesting too. Amongst the notebooks and pastel pens, they sell gift wrap that looks like old maps.

Paks: They sell all kinds of cheap but intriguing make up in hard-to-find colours, as well as wigs and beauty products. There's one on Ridley Road in Dalston.

The High Street: Holland & Barrett has every kind of vitamin you can imagine, usually on sale, as well as honey soap and health-food store snacks and beauty products. Topshop in Oxford Circus - yes, it's intense, but they still have fun clothes. Right now the Fiorucci x Adidas collection is worth checking out. Boots has all kinds of make up, bandaids, and general pharmacy items. I like the Avène moisturizer and the Kalms One-a-night natural chill pills.

The Girl on a Motorcycle




Monday, 4 June 2018

Barcelona: Where to Eat & Frolic

Flash Flash
I took the train to Barcelona recently. I lived there for a year and a half but this was the best time I had in the crowded seaside city. There were so many great moments...a spontaneous trip to the beach with an enchanting Catalan girl and a beautiful Argentinean, who promptly removed all her clothes as soon as we sat by the water. We swam in the sea and then lounged in our underwear, feeling the sand on our legs and the sun warming our skin. 

Then we visited my friend the artist Monstruo Espagueti. She gave me a portrait she had drawn of me and I brought her guacamole atop homemade tortilla chips with a slice of lime.

That night my friend Vir, a pixie from Buenos Aires, and I visited a friend who was djing at Olgod, a bar that served Beertails. Hold on, they were surprisingly delicious! A beer mojito is just right when your liver is screaming at you for staying out until dawn at Primavera Sound the night before. We walked a few minutes until we came to a small club where an English friend was djing Italodisco. We danced and talked to a fascinating Tango guitarist. Between the loud music and his accent, everything he said sounded like leaves rustling in the wind but somehow I understood what he meant.

The rest of the weekend I poked around record stores, ate vegan schwarma, wandered around the Gothic quarter in the moonlight, and saw as many friends as possible.

In hopes that you'll have an equally exciting time, here's my guide to Barcelona:

The Design Museum
WHERE TO EAT

1. Casa Lolea, in El Borne. A delicious tapas restaurant. Order the melty truffle risotto, the light patatas bravas, and the crispy pan de crystal. Actually, everything here is fantastic. Make a reservation.

2. Bormuth, in El Borne. Another great, and cheap, tapas restaurant, for carnivores and vegetarians. The potatoes "mojo picon" are unforgettable and the fried aubergine with honey is also tasty. To try a Catalan specialty, order the spinach with pine nuts. Try the vermut too - ask for "el siphon" if it's too intense.

3. El Vaso de Oro, in Barceloneta. This is an old school authentic bar with a few tables and sassy waiters. Order fried artichokes and fuet (Catalan sausage) and pâté. There aren't many veggie options. This bar is best for a snack or beers.

4. Sesamo, in Sant Antoni. This is a low-key vegetarian tapas restaurant that's only open for dinner. Try the roast cauliflower dish, the gnocchi with beet and cheese sauce, and the gazpacho. Only open after 7 pm.

5. Sensi Tapas Mezzanine, in Gothic quarter. Open late, good for big groups. Order the truffle ravioli, and the zucchini and goat cheese tempura. They also have a tiny paella if you just want a few bites of the famous dish.

6. Flash Flash, in Eixample/ Gracia. A groovy tortilla restaurant with excellent croquettes. It's the most lively at lunchtime.

7. Can Mano, Jaica, and Bitacora, all close by in Barceloneta. The first two are classic, inexpensive tapas places specializing in seafood and meat dishes. Bitacora is a little neighborhood restaurant that has amazing patatas bravas and a few vegetarian options. Bar Fanny, on the corner, has the same kitchen as Bitacora.

8. Pizza Circus, in Raval. Take-out, cheap and fantastic New York-style pizza by the slice. The one on Nou de la Rambla street is the best.  Another quick, cheap dinner option: Muns empanadas, in Raval and Poblenou. The best empanadas in town.

9. Hummus Barcelona, in Eixample. Try the energizing vegan schwarma with creamy hummus and a hard-boiled egg, especially if you're low on sleep. The best time to go is weekdays for the menu del dia. 

BRUNCH & COFFEE:

10. Caravelle, in Raval. They have the best Eggs Benedict and great coffee. Get there early or there's a long line.

11. Federal, a brunch spot in the Gothic quarter. There's one in Sant Antoni too but the one in Gothic is less crowded. They have a hangover-curing dish called shakshuka, which is delicious.

12. Satan's Coffee Corner, in the Gothic quarter. Excellent coffee, healthy breakfasts.



SWEETS: Gelaaati in Gothic has the most original ice cream, Rocambolesc in Raval has the best soft ice cream with creative toppings like cotton candy, and La Colmena in Gothic has the tastiest meringues. Make sure to get the tall ones in foil. I like chocolate or lemon.


A bar in Poble Sec
WHERE TO DRINK

1. Bar Olimpic, in Raval. This whole street (Joaquin Costa) is filled with bars. Olimpic is small and charming with cheap cocktails.

2. Foxy, in Raval/ Sant Antoni. Fun atmosphere, reasonable cocktails and fresh piña coladas.

3. Bar Marsella, in Raval. Hemingway used to drink at this absinth joint. It's kind of touristy now but still attracts interesting people and you might run into someone you know here. I usually do.

4. Madame Jasmine, in Raval. A hip gay/ mixed bar with outdoor seating.

5. Ølgod , in Raval, craft beer bar with beertails. Brooklyn vibes.

There are lots of bars in Raval, Sant Antoni, Bogatell, and if you want a mellower scene, there's Gracia and Poble Sec. There are plenty of clubs too. The most decadent/ art + disco night is Glove Party.

THINGS TO DO

See Gaudi's fantastical architecture. To visit Gaudi's masterpiece the Sagrada Familia you have to book online in advance. Only go to Park Guell on a sunny day to enjoy the full view. Casa Battlo and La Pedrera are two semi-psychedelic residences located in Eixample. If you're short on time or money just visit the Palau Guell in Raval.

Swim in the Mediterranean. The best beaches are outside the city so hop on a train at Sants or at Arc de Triomf train station (not metro) and get off at Montgat (R1 to Matadero), or if you have more time take the R1 (direction: Blanes) to Sant Pol de Mar, which is 96 minutes away.

Shopping: Pepa Paper has good-looking notebooks (Consell de Cent, 276. Eixample). Regia has fantastic perfumes and colognes (Passeig de Gracia, 39. Eixample) and Farmacia del Palau has less expensive perfumes (Ramblas, 118). Get handmade espadrilles at La Manual Alpargatera (Calle d'Avinyo, 7. Gothic). Buy wine and Espolon tequila (it's not Spanish but it's hard to find in Europe and will enhance your trip) at Vins i licors Vilanova (Placa del Pedro, 7. Raval). Get gifts at Fantastik (Carrer de Joaquin Costa, 62.) La Central has a vast selection of books.
If you like people watching and collecting things check out Palo Alto market (mostly gigs and food) or Lost & Found market (vintage stuff and records).

Art Museums: The CCCB, the Design Museum and Macba are the best.

ADVICE - Barcelona is one of the pickpocket capitals of the world; always keep your hand on your pocket or bag. Leave your passport and valuables where you're staying- just keep a photo of the picture page on your phone. Always keep your iphone out of sight as much as possible; don't leave it on the table at a cafe or talk on it for long late at night. Also, at bars and restaurants keep your bag in your lap not under the table or on a chair. Avoid the smaller streets of Raval after midnight if you're by yourself. Culturally - be aware that locals generally consider themselves part of Cataluña, not part of Spain. This is a hot political issue. If you learn some basic words in Catalan people will appreciate it. Diverteix-te!


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