Coco Capitán is best known for her handwritten poems and aphorisms for Gucci, Maison Margiela, Vogue and other luxury imprints in the fashion world. Her work was featured as part of Gucci’s “Art Wall” mural project in New York and Milan, creating slogans including “What are we going to do with all this future?” and “Common sense is not that common” back in 2017.
“This exhibition, my first in London for four years, shows a body of work related to the sea, sailors, and the Navy, all long fascinations of mine,” explains multidisciplinary artist Coco Capitán. Paintings, photographs and ‘artist-embellished found objects’ feature in Naïvy, the Spanish-born, London-based Capitán’s new solo exhibition. “Over the years I have made many works on these themes, and especially in the last six months when organising this show,” she explains. The sea, with its connotations of adventure and escapism, seems a fitting, if poignant, subject to explore during such lockdown-filled times as these.
“I have been photographing the sea from an early age, and as soon as I started painting I was always using blue colours a lot,” says Capitán, writing over email. She explains that the work “developed very naturally”, forming a selection of pieces in a range of media for Naïvy. “It is worth noting the first picture I ever took was of my mother on a little boat by a port. She was wearing blue and I have her image in this setting recorded in my mind since then.” Alongside photographs taken in a variety of places – “Mallorca, Sweden, the Caribbean, even New York state! But all, of course, near water” – a selection of paintings, annotated images, found photographs, items of clothing and other ephemera recalling naval history and travel appear in the exhibition.
Capitán’s practice has always spanned a variety of mediums, with paintings exhibited in galleries around the world – a recent major exhibition in Paris was called Busy living everything with everyone, everywhere, all of the time, a title that seems somewhat ironic to look back on after a summer of lockdowns and social distancing – at the same time as fashion photography appearing in the pages of magazines like Dazed. “As certain as we can be, we are only given one time on this earth, and I want to try as many things as possible and investigate the process. It is not about achieving excellence in a sole medium,” she told AnOther in 2018. Over the last few years, Capitán’s work has become recognisable for its quotable slogans, often painted or written in her distinctive scrawl. Her hand-drawn contemplations caught the attention of Alessandro Michele and led to collaborations with Gucci, her words appearing on posters on the sides of buildings in cities like New York and Milan. In paintings and annotated on photographs in Naïvy, Capitán’s writing appears again: whether musing on the colour blue or adding a caption-like comment to an image.
Coco Capitán: Naïvy is at Maximillian William, London from September 11 – October 30, 2020.
47 Mortimer St.
Fitzrovia, London W1W 8HJ,