Joan Cornella: Offensive Cartoons at Its Best

Joan Cornella’s cartoons are not afraid to offend. Joan Cornella is a massively popular Spanish cartoonist infamous for themes of political and social criticism in his simplistic cartoon drawings. To a new viewer, his artworks seem jovial and harmless at first. However, as you begin to look closely into the message, and the content of his work, it’s not hard to miss the morbidity and the dark-humored nature of his colorful cartoons.

I first encountered his work through Instagram, where he posts his works daily to the audience of 2.1 million users. He takes advantage of Instagram’s policies on nudity and violence by freely exploring and representing them through his art. His works ambitiously tackle ideas such as exploitation, crime, race, individualism, and human nature. The style of his cartoons distinguished by oversimplified characters, bright primary color tones, and lack of direct quote exaggerate this effect. His cartoons exaggerate the human experience of 21st century. Some of his notable works include a man holding a gun instead of a “selfie stick,” and a man holding up a peace sign with a dead baby pierced through the sign.

The controversy surrounding his work is not hard to predict. Many commentators criticize his work for over-exaggerating and simplifying the socio-political dynamics of today. One of his recent works that received a wide criticism by the public was a picture of a woman who is using pepper spray on a man giving her flowers. Obviously, this is a commentary on the recent movement of #Metoo. He is possibly saying that the term of sexual harassment is being overused, and misinterpreted. Now, even the kind gestures and flattery are considered to be a form of predatory behavior that we need to control.

This is only one example of his works that stirred controversy. Some other examples of such works can include a man holding a sign that says “I hate free speech,” and an office meeting with the board reading “exploit the homeless.” His social commentaries are explicit and not afraid of its reception. Despite the vulgar nature of his messages and artworks, he had numerous exhibitions and is well received by those who encounter his work. Although the shock factor played into his rise to fame as an artist, the refreshing originality of his uncensored cartoons keeps him relevant as a social commentator.

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