Neon lights, slogans, shop signs, billboards, and logos, a glaring white light flooding our sky create a visual universe which comes to life in the latest Travel Book by Louis Vuitton. The series has captivated readers for some time, but the newest edition highlights Los Angeles through the raw and uninterrupted lens of Javier Mariscal. His edgy and unbridled style spans multi media and gives one a sense of voyage through 176 pages. Complemented by the memorable moments Mariscal experienced on his fifth trip to the city of angels, the latest Louis Vuitton Travel Book expressed community, freedom, and life.
A graphic designer, illustrator, designer, filmmaker, painter, sculptor and ceramist, Javier Mariscal is an artist who loves to challenge. A total artist, irreverent and, above all, “free”, the word that guides his existence. His motto: “Hay que romper con todo.” (“You have to break with everything.”) A dyslexic child, he was obsessed by drawing from a very early age and fascinated by letters and typography, a passion that would have a substantial influence on his work. As he sees it, drawing is the cornerstone of everything. He insists that a piece of furniture, hotel, animated film, magazine cover, logo, wallpaper, poster or portrait, “all of it is ONLY a drawing”. His style is edgy, unbridled and protean, embracing the various techniques and media he encounters. The small notebook he uses to sketch a cup of coffee, or the face of the person he’s talking to, never leaves his pocket.
His first comic strips were published in the mid-1970s in various fanzines. He then played an active role in the Spanish Movida, the countercultural renaissance that accompanied the final period of democratic transition after Franco’s death. Greatly influenced by American cartoonist George Herriman, he revolutionised the visual language of Spanish comics with Los Garriris (1974).
He settled in Barcelona, a city he loves and dubs “highly educated”, and has become one of its most iconic figures. Javier Mariscal began to gain a name for himself with the BAR CEL ONA logo he created in 1979 and, especially, thanks to the Duplex Bar he opened with Fernando Salas. The Dúplex barstool he created for it went on to become one of his most famous furniture designs and led to his participation as a designer in the iconic exhibition organised in Milan by Ettore Sottsass and his Memphis group. His career was up and running. And it proved to be unstoppable. A prolific designer, he threw himself into one project and exhibition after another, including at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Documenta in Kassel, Sala Vinçon in Barcelona and in his native Valencia.
His achievements were recognised with a retrospective of his work in 2009 at the London Design Museum. Appropriately named Mariscal: Drawing Life, the show provided ample proof of the artist’s vast talent, rooted in a mixture of spontaneity and vigour, vitality and humour — the humour of a child who still doesn’t belong to the adult world and “learned about life through drawing”. With his tousled hair, scruffy clothes and mischievous sparkle in his eyes, he installed his “Cobi wall” with evident delight, proof of the special place in his heart for this little character who has become his signature design. A music lover with a passion for jazz, Mariscal and his friend, film director Fernando Trueba, set themselves a crazy challenge in 2008: create an animated feature film telling the very sensual love story of a pianist and a singer during the Cuban revolution. The music is by Bebo Valdés and the film takes places in New York and Havana, which Javier Mariscal spent two years feverishly drawing. Chico and Rita won numerous international awards and was nominated for the 2012 Oscars, which Javier attended. And this is perhaps when his love affair with Los Angeles began.