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An “almost secret” mural by Keith Haring in Spain will be saved from the pickaxe

Barcelona (Spain), Jun 9 (.) .- Keith Haring was an urban art activist when, already sick with AIDS and aware that his time was running out, he dedicated himself to painting murals on his travels, one of them in 1989 in the wall of a club in Barcelona (northeast of Spain), on a farm that was going to be demolished, although eventually the work will be saved from the pickaxe. The alert that the new owners wanted to build in this space, which now occupies a billiards, a nursing home, activated the interest of the administrations for a work that they valued at 120,000 euros (about $ 146,244 at the current exchange rate). The city council of the city, after authenticating the painting, brought the case to the attention of the Generalitat (regional government), which initiated a file for its protection, in addition to informing the Ministry of Culture. Haring, who would die in New York the following year, made this work on the wall of the dj booth of the Ars Studio, a mythical venue where César de Melero, “godfather of house” of the Spanish capital scene, played. Friendship motivated the artist to leave his mark “in this temple of dance,” recalls the veteran dj to .. “He came one night, saw the space and asked me to remove the records and the rest of the things so that he could paint, while his colleague Gil Vázquez, who had come with him from New York and who is now the head of the Haring Foundation, was playing.” , recalls De Melero, happy that the mural is going to be saved, but at the same time angry at the treatment received by this work that “Haring gave to Barcelona”. The result was “Acid”, -acid house set the tone then, says the dj-, one of the typical figures of Haring’s visual landscape: a “puppet” with a flower as a head, painted in red, which seems to squirm with the rhythmic pattern of house, an intervention that De Melero himself captured on video and with Polaroids to attest to the “momentum”. Possibly, the artist made that silhouette with the leftover paint from the gigantic mural that he had made in the same days in the Raval neighborhood, “Chinatown” at the time, an impressive work called “Together we can stop AIDS”, an allegory of the disease that ended his life. It seems that over Haring’s ephemeral and street art was always the threat of the bulldozer. The wall on which he made the 34-meter-long labyrinth of bodies, snakes and syringes was demolished in 1992, in compliance with the Raval Special Plan, although the Macba (Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona), far-sighted, made a tracing in life size that allowed its reproduction next to the museum, in 2014. While his older brother fell, on the other side of the city, in the premises of Atenas street, the little “Acid” -a Melero does not like the name of “flower child” that others attribute to him – he did not have the expected recognition either. Ars Studio closed doors in 1992, and the space was without activity until in 1995 the businessman Gabriel Carral opened some billiards, which have been operating since then. Carral acknowledges to . that when he saw the mural he did not know anything about Haring’s work, and that it was De Melero who put his team in the background, and the one who begged them to take care of him. “It has not been touched since 1989, I have preserved the best that I have known without having much experience in graffiti paintings. At that time it was smoked in clubs, and I do not know if nicotine has helped to preserve it better or worse”, jokes Carral, who turned Haring’s work into his business logo. The person in charge of the billiards, who will have to leave the premises next September, had the intention of taking it with him because, according to what he claimed, he had agreed in his contract with the first owners that he could keep the decorative elements. Carral even spoke with a gallery to have them appraised the mural – which set its price at around 120,000 euros – and determine what would be the best way to extract it without damaging it. However, the new owners, who bought the farm with the initial idea of ​​building a nursing home -although the pandemic caused a stoppage of the project-, stated that the mural is their property as it is in a structural element, and so they were informed to Carral, after reaching an agreement. Rafael Benages, manager of the owner company, tells . that they were made aware of the importance of the mural by communication from the Generalitat, which urged them to protect it. “The pandemic has changed things a lot and we will have to redefine the whole project,” says Benages about the future of the building, although he insists that Haring’s painting will be safe. “This mural is there and no one will touch it, we are going to protect it, for sure,” says the owner, who must now establish the conservation mechanisms with the Generalitat, if possible to allow the public to continue enjoying the work. The city council, after verifying its authorship, had the new owners include a guarantee of protection of the mural in the special urban plan and requested the Generalitat to declare it as an Asset of Cultural Interest, municipal sources report. For the director of Macba, Ferran Barenblit, it is interesting that Barcelona has two pieces by Haring, the mural against AIDS and the old Ars. “They are sister pieces, and it is very significant that he made these two pieces and that each one from its place greet different audiences. The administrations have protected the piece, that is great news. They have acted as expected in a situation like this and now we have left to continue enjoying such a beautiful piece for a long time, “he was hopeful. By Sergio Andreu (c) . Agency

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