Pinocchio prepares heroin with his wooden buddy while Jiminy Cricket looks on in stunned horror. Jessica Rabbit fires collagen injections into her lips. Cinderella, she the princess who beat the odds to live happily ever after, shaves her blonde locks. Snow White hangs herself in a scene of shock and terror for the poor seven dwarves. The Snow Queen snorts lines of cocaine. Alice in Wonderland rocks a Kurt Cobain T-Shirt. Ariel, of Little Mermaid fame, dons a Marilyn Manson tee. Mickey Mouse, dressed a little differently for his mugshot than everyone is used to seeing him, faces immigration charges. These things are all happening in the growingly popular world of Jose Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros. We see these things happening to people in the real world, and we don’t think twice. We’ve grown desensitized to the rapidly increasing troubles of today, but when we see these things happening to characters from our childhood, characters we grew up with in many ways, then our awareness reemerges…even if just for a fleeting moment.
We caught up with him to talk about his favorite art, his most recent shows, and whether or not Disney has taken any action against him for his depictions of their characters (hint: they have not). You’ll never look at Disney characters or cartoons the same way again.
Where did you get started, artwise?
I started participating in group shows in Mexico in 1998. I had my first solo show in 2001 and since then work has been steady.
I started as a self-taught artist, and in 2002 I attended some painting, drawing, print-making and sculpture workshops at the Municipal Center of Arts (CMA, Mazatlán Sinaloa, México) at the same time I studied a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design at Itesus, also in Mexico.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
There are so many but the best thing is that I can be free in every sense and this allows me to communicate my ideas to many others. Art is my greatest motivation to enjoy life.
Who are some of your favorite satirists throughout history?
Some of my favorite artists are William Hogarth, Pawla Kuczyńskiego, Matt Groening and Banksy. Also I like the writers Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, etc.
Disney characters have been used subtly in art and in satire before, but never have such blatant reinterpretations been rendered. How do you feel blazing trails and creating this new dialogue with such an iconic cast of characters?
Many contemporary artists use characters from the entertainment industry to engage in dialogue with the viewer, something that is very common in “lowbrow art”.
Personally it makes me feel great that so many people have understood the discourse that I propose in my work, where beyond the fantasy characters I describe a little about the time we live in, perhaps in a way that is too candid or raw, and this has generated an intense contrast, but in the end I feel that the audience I do intend to address has understood and accepted it, and that drives me to continue.
What is your earliest memory of Disney movies? Dare I ask if you have a favorite one and why? A favorite character maybe?
Even before I could see the movies, I remember when I was a child I had a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves sticker album. I remember the colors of the landscapes and the characters; I would spend hours looking at it.
Snow White is my personal favorite, maybe because she was the first leading lady in an animated feature film in the history of animation. I find the design in primary colors and the psychology of the character very interesting.
What, if any, has been the backlash from the folks at Disney?
I am in many ways in love with your entire Disney, Freddy Krueger and Jason, cartoons-meet-serious-social-issues juxtaposition? Tell me, where did the concept come from and how did you go about bringing it to fruition?
Well this is one of the freedoms I have in my work. I feel very drawn to pop culture, and it has allowed me to do all kinds of mixtures, I constantly have ideas, and the Hollywood industry is very stimulating, so I decided to combine horror films and fairy tales, I work very hard on the details of these characters in order to bring them to fruition.
Did you expect the Disasterland and Disenchanted series to gain so much notoriety?
Frankly no. It’s been unexpected.
Who are your Top 10 artists, any medium, of all-time?
William Bouguereau, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Marquis de Sade, Andy Warhol, Walt Disney, Mark Ryden, Banksy, Alexander McQueen, Quentin Tarantino.
What’s next for you and how can our readers stay current with what you’re up to?
Currently I am working on a new series where I continue mixing characters in pop culture. I have scheduled some shows in the USA and Europe, and I’m working on the creative part of these projects. Your readers can follow me at facebook.com/JoseRodolfoLoaizaOntiveros and twitter.com/RodolfoLoaiza