‘Life and Lives’ by Ricardo Cavolo, portraits of a thousand and one lives
Soho, Berwick Street, 3:23 p.m. . A leaflet is handed to me for the umpteenth time in the afternoon . The bright yellow wet paper tells me ” Smile at life, God loves you .” I look up , two men greet me with focused and sanitized smiles . They are two members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , commonly known as “Mormon ” or ” Amish .” Torsos bulging like two roosters in a barnyard , they walk proudly to highlight the ” Elder ” of their abdominal banner. Elder, nm: leader or senior in a tribe or other group . Okay … They still remain lost sheep, drowned out by the supreme shepherd and lobotomized by many prophetic claims. Surprise , no cart on the horizon, or Laura Ingalls dressed in gingham fabrics and men in overalls jeans. What a drastic change ! They now prefer the towel and blue suit. Nice observation.
I left them alone with their strong dream and continued my journey in the soft drizzle of November. A smell of wet dog lingered in the street. Three times I’ve looked for it. Three times, back and forth and never finding the art gallery. I would always expect to find his name on the front as there is none. Atomica Gallery, small decal above the handle. Once I crossed the threshold of the door I see the incredible mural by Ricardo Cavolo, a huge portrait trying to drown me in his blue sky eyes.
His new “Life and Lives” exhibition is a compendium of past and future lives. With a unique style and a series of metaphorical symbols, he tells the story of Jocelyn, Usmail, Dog Boy, Annimalliah, Humphrey and the other characters who live on the margins of society. Ricardo speaks of “the b-side of life”, their parallel, unacknowledged and desired lives. He extracts stories and memories from their brain entities, pigments their faces, makes their veins translucent, like members of a gang that anchor the skin of each of their criminal episodes. He makes these portraits live, or relive, I don’t know. The mystery remains. Are they fictional? Real? The answer would make all the magic of its beings disappear, quietly filed on paper, a timeless look, the gaze towards eternity.
I leave, greet the hostess, who returns a muffled goodbye.. I step into Charlotte Street whilst dreamy and perplexed. I walk pass the two church guys for the fourth time, soaked to the bone, still proud of their austere version of SpongeBob. In a deliberate momentum, I see myself tattooing them with their “Smile at Life” across their face.