Be warned—although some of these images may be safe for work, that does not mean you will be spared from feeling dirty. This artist’s work reflects some of the most shocking things about our society. Be prepared as you enter the glorious and profane world of Spanish illustrator and artist Luis Quiles. To see the world through his eyes is to see how someone is speaking out against sexism, homophobia, exploitation and violence. For some of you, these images will be powerful and may even evoke a deep visceral response—be it arousal, terror, or disgust.
That’s the great thing about art—you have the freedom to look straight at it, or look directly away. You also have the power to feel or not to feel. Isn’t that what art is meant do? It offers everyone a chance to look beyond their own version of reality.
At first glance, the art of Luis Quiles appears saccharine sweet and almost naively innocent—that is until you stop and consider what you are viewing. Known for causing controversy with his artwork, Quiles is unafraid of detractors and, most importantly, unapologetic about his subject matter. To call him brave would be a misnomer, because Quiles is more that just another artist willing to speak out. He’s a modern-day storyteller, taking on the ugly side of our society and using very touchy subjects. For Quiles, combining his art skills with some very deep thoughts has resulted a body of work that produces quite the mental punch.
His work is often so unsettling to look at because it’s not some far-fetched comic-drawing, but a look at the real world through an unfiltered lens. Quiles could have used his artistic talents to play it safe, draw images for children’s books, or create landscape portraits with adorable puppies and kittens, but instead he has really turned heads with his unique form of art.
Quiles states of the artwork above, titled The I-Phonekkake, “We should seriously ask ourselves if we are controlling technology or technology is controlling us.”
While others artists might use their talent purely for commercial gain or fame, Quiles has opted for a more provocative route. Throughout his career, Quiles has refused to play by the art-world rules. This unfortunately has caused some sites to censor or block his images completely. Case in point, Deviantart.com—one of the largest alternative art sites, know for ‘deviant’ style art—allowed its users to censor another artist’s images. This resulted in Quiles pulling most of his work from their site. According to Quiles, “they have been censoring my work, despite the fact that I’ve not broken an terms or agreements.”
His work states that from a distance, our civilization appears effervescent—bubbling with creative, life-honoring opportunities. Our stores are abundantly stocked to fulfill our need for instant gratification, social media accounts tittering with ego boosting ‘likes’ and commentary, and handheld devices providing a constant stream of entertainment and mind-numbing distractions. Sometimes it takes going to extremes to get people talking, and that is what Quiles does with his illustrations—he’s merely reflecting the broken parts of modern society. Whether it’s topics like racism, war, censorship, or our reliance on social media, the images that he creates are a raw commentary on controversial topics of how he sees social problems afflicting the world, which by the looks of it, is a very hard pill to swallow.
What causes Luis Quiles’ art to be so controversial is that it is so raw and blunt, and often revolves around the type of truths people don’t like to discuss, let alone admit. For some of you, Quiles’ images will undoubtable spark feelings of disgust or terror, but within each work there is a story being told, a fear being shared, and something for everyone to take away. Yes, it can make for some unsettling viewing, but art is not always meant to evoke happy feelings. Sometimes its used to draw attention to the most important aspects of our culture. Artists that are daring enough to let everyone in the dirty little secret. Because when you really think about it—in order for us to understand the truth, it has to hurt just a little.