Discover Valencia’s secret street artist playing with dead icons – JOY at Playground Art Centre

Could you shock your closest friends with a secret about you? For Valencian urban artist JOY it’s easy. Not even his best friends know that he makes street art on our city walls.

You might have spotted JOY’s distinctive stencils of pop icons. He’s painted in the city for the last four years. That arresting image of a penguin wearing a gas mask, or Elvis riding a banana? That’s JOY. He’s entirely self-taught and creates urban art, well, for the sheer joy.

‘I like to make art that provokes’, explains JOY, ‘and to make people react’.

 Michael Jackson - Valencia street art by JOY ( Image: JOY )

Michael Jackson – Valencia street art by JOY (Image: JOY)

Now JOY has his first solo show in Valencia and we’re all invited. Opening at Playground Art Center on Friday 4th May, ‘Cadavres Exquis’ is a exhibition of JOY’s new work on canvas. 

The work builds on JOY’s love of pop-culture’s very famous, and very dead, icons. You’ll see spray portraits of James Dean, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara, River Phoenix, Liz Taylor and more. All are, in JOY’s words, ‘cadavres exquisitos’ (exquisite corpses). 

 'Che David' by JOY ( Image: JOY )

‘Che David’ by JOY (Image: JOY)

For those of you who love art-criticism, ‘cadavres exquis’ is also the name of an art game used by the Surrealists. Players like Duchamp, Miro and Andre Breton would add words or images to a collective poem or sketch – without seeing what had been written/drawn before.

Now, we could see JOY’s work as a collective game, where we add to his altered iconic images with our own secret associations. Or we could just enjoy them as a riotous adventure in street art and pop.

 JOY's work, spotted on the streets of Valencia ( Image: JOY)

JOY’s work, spotted on the streets of Valencia (Image: JOY)

In either case, street artist JOY *just might* be your best mate without you knowing. Come to the opening on the 4th and find out.