The new body of work features the provocative artist’s signature use of hyperrealist sculpture, installation, and conceptualism to illustrate the inequitable effects of blind, ubiquitous capitalism through satire and metaphor. “Sons Of Capital” develops a discourse about the distribution of power in society today, where only a few decide for many people who must accept a state of submission. The artist’s work becomes a cry for change, recalling Plato’s cave, to push through and overcome the fear or preconceived notions of security espoused by selfish authoritarians who claim to have others best interests in mind. Merino calls out and focuses on those few who lead, or have led, the world, from a socially acceptable and, even, legitimate stance.
Such a system germinates and feeds leaders who are elected only for their own benefit. It is a (self) delusion to think that we can be part of decision-making with our ballots. The real truth is that those decisions have been already made and our votes are just an act to satisfy the masses. Tackling these themes of politics, religion, and socioeconomic standards, with the aim of satirically questioning their validity, Merino presents Pandora’s Ballot Box, a methacrylate ballot box containing ballot papers and the head of Adolf Hitler. Known for his Hyperrealist sculptures – including dictators, politicians, artists, and other institutionalized figureheads – Pandora’s Ballot Box is among the artist’s most poignant and controversial works to date. It should not be forgotten that Hitler used democracy – using a strategy comparable to a coup d’état – to rise to power. As such, Pandora’s Ballot Box is a nod to the growing rise of extremism in Europe and the United States through representative elections. The resonance of this work is further accentuated when viewed with Damaged Goods, a life-size sculpture of Donald Trump’s head, complete with his signature hairstyle, detailed to every strand.
Merino posits that together politicians change, as the world evolves, but the majority of the social class struggles is still the same. “The best slave is the one who thinks he is free.” This quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe reiterates Merino’s idea in the artwork Face Wash. Mixing elements of objet trouvé and sardonic conceptualism, the artist loads commemorative plates featuring American presidents into an industrial washing machine. Merino speaks of power, capitalism and, of course, of submissive automatons, exploring the decades-long proliferative collusion between Big Business and Big Government. Replete with political imagery and motifs, Merino presents a contemporary cautionary tale rooted in the denial of individual freedoms and democratic right under the guise of “managing society” by a new and more opaque fascism. Moreover, Face Wash addresses the interchangeability of politicians. Like the plates that bear their portraits, these leaders are mere ornamentation; puppets for a larger apparatus in which both they and average citizens get wrapped up. Merino presents a contemporary cautionary tale rooted in the denial of individual freedoms and democratic right under the guise of “managing society” by a new and more opaque fascism. There is a cycle of washing away the same sociopolitical issues that burden our society, just to repeat and further these mistakes.