Whitehot Magazine

Pablo Llana's Culture Of Junk Food And Sinister Clowns

 Artist Pablo Llana, photo courtesy of Stefan Falke

By NOAH BECKER, Spetember, 2018

I chatted with artist Pablo Llana about his socially concious pop inspired works:

Noah Becker: Greetings Pablo, where were you born and raised?

Pablo Llana: Hello Noah, I was born and raised in Tijuana, Baja California Mexico.

Becker: Oh cool, I visited there as a child. Your work has sculptural and painterly qualities but also a collage aspect. How do you think of your work and its materiality - specifically the pieces that use collage on objects?

Llana: I started as a conventional painter using oil and acrylic in my work at 17 years of age. I started using recycled junk food wrappers in 2009 because for me obesity and contamination that these materials generate is extremely important to use in my art to create awareness.

Pablo Llana, recycled junk food wrappers donated by Mexican and American families and resin on canvas 

Becker: But do you think of it as collage?

Llana: I do not consider it a collage, I consider it the painting of the future, for example McDonald's produces 200 thousand tons of garbage per hour, this garbage ends up in the seas and in our environment. The pigment comes from nature, so today in our century I get it from all the plastic.

Becker: You obviously have a pop sensibility and a street art sensibility. How do you see these interests mixing in your work?

Llana: As we all know, pop art was created in the United States. Pop art is linked to mass media, consumerism, consumer society, we are robots thanks to the technology of our time.

Pablo Llana, recycled junk food wrappers donated by Mexican and American families and resin on canvas

Pablo Llana, recycled junk food wrappers donated by Mexican and American families and resin on canvas 

Becker: So it’s post-pop?

Llana: Yes, My work can be considered post pop in many ways, the bright color that comes from the wrappers, the message of direct consumption and the evidence of what most people eat in this century. I am interested that in my work you can see a direct message without pretensions. A piece of art with which you can feel identified positively or negatively

Becker: Your work is very original, I could compare aspects of it to other artists but I was wondering what or who influences you?

Llana: What inspires me is the consumption of junk food at this time, for example Mexico has the first place in consuming Coca Cola in the world, that influences me to take this evidence in my art and say with it “Hey, look what you are doing with your body and with our planet!!!!”

Pablo Llana, Mixed media (detail of work)

Becker: Ronald McDonald is a good anti-hero or enemy in this sense. Tell me about the Ronald McDonald clown and the McDonald's themed pieces?

Llana: Clowns attract children, that's why the McDonald's company was very clever in inventing Ronald McDonald to catch the attention of children. I use this clown in my pieces in different ways showing the hidden face that this character has, sometimes I show him obese, in others as unscrupulous characters with machine guns with a mission to destroy us all with his innocent face.

Becker: And most people are terrified by clowns under normal circumstances…

Llana: Yes, sinister clowns can cause great social alarm, especially for children. So much so that in some locations they have even organized clown hunts, as has happened at Penn State University, in Pennsylvania, where several students organized a hunt to locate clowns in places where they had allegedly been sighted.

Becker: I would join in a clown hunt if we were using water guns and cream pies as weapons. I’ll have to research that clown hunt you speak of as I am against violence. Speaking of non-violence, some of your works remind me of Tibetan mandalas. I like the complicated aspect of your work and the surfaces too. Talk a bit more about the materials you make your work with?

Llana: The mandalas are a symbol of worship and in other cases they are used for relaxation, in my case I make these pieces that have these patterns to seduce you and hypnotize you as the junk food brands do, it is a cult, a religion for many eating this type of products which in many cases unfortunately generates an ephemeral tranquility.

Becker: So it’s all junk food materials?

Llana: Yes, All of this pieces you mention are made entirely with junk food wrappers donated by Mexican and American families that have consumed theses products.WM


Noah Becker

Noah Becker is an artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. He shows his paintings internationally at museums and galleries. Becker also plays jazz saxophone. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010). Becker's new album of original music "Mode For Noah" was released in 2023. 


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