Action painting: Avelino Sala


Riot shield is an object which pretends to be invisible. It is made of transparent polycarbonate that cannot be seen while allows to the person that wears it to observe and monitor through it.

Appears just as defense device but in fact it’s an immediate response and forceful control instrument. Avelino Sala started using riot shields as support for painting interventions in his series Give me Shelter in 2016. This title anticipates a friction between opposite meanings: the coercive power of the shield and the concept of protection.


Sala makes clear his intention to highlight and modify the semantics of intimidating elements by dropping paint over their surface with the same strength that an opponent would do, insurgent, rebel, demonstrator, who is situated in direct opposition to the symbol of power printed on shield’s surface. These shields are put in evidence by an artistic action which is both poetic and violent. This action deepens into an investigation focused on the ambiguous contradiction between protection and surveillance, between confidence and coercion, current aspects in security forces of any state. Few months ago, in September last year, similar interventions to these ones carried out inside the limited and (un)controlled space of Avelino Sala’s studio, took place in Barcelona’s streets due to an action driven by Arran organization. Reality used again an artistic creation to try to achieve its purposes, in this case, the Catalan independentist collective used the resource devised by Sala with the same aim of the artist: make visible the imperceptible elements of control and repression.


Fernando Gómez de la Cuesta

Installation Views