Hergé’s heirs force an exhibition inspired by Tintin to close in Barcelona

  • The artist Nacho Simal closes his exhibition at the Cromo gallery after the warnings of the legal services of the Moulinsart Foundation, which manages the rights to the works of the Belgian cartoonist

With the inflexible managers of the rights to Hergé’s work, and especially of Tintin, has bumped Nacho Simal. Co-founder in 2008 of the magazine ‘La Cruda’, of contemporary art, drawing and comics, this artist born in Zaragoza in 1974 and formed in Fine Arts in Barcelona, inaugurated on October 8, in the Chrome gallery, in the Riera de Sant Miquel 27 of the Catalan capital, su new exhibition, first baptized as’Syldavia’, though renamed, cautiously, as ‘Simalia’. The reason will be seen shortly. In her, curated by the critic Mery Cuesta, they looked until this Monday, November 15, a dozen large-format works, made in different techniques, very loosely inspired by the universe of Tintin and specifically in the album ‘Ottokar’s Scepter’, which always fascinated the artist. The works were to remain on display until December 3, but Simal has decided for now close it to the email received by your gallery owner Natalia Zaratiegui submitted by Moulinsart SA legal services., who watches over Hergé’s legacy, urging them to close and forbidding him to show or sell the pieces.

“I am very surprised, because I never thought I would have problems covering such a popular universe, something that marked me as a child. I did it in a natural, sincere and spontaneous way, responding to an inner echo, to my subconscious, opening doors as from a parallel universe, my Simalia. Not being able to exhibit or sell the work means they are killing it. It is very depressing. If we pay attention to them, surely the thing will remain there and they will not take further measures. Now I am consulting legally if I can do something. But facing them means having time, money and desire, “a dismayed Simal laments to EL PERIÓDICO, who a week ago even feared that they could even demand the destruction of all the works, on which he began to work four years ago. The paintings reveal “Warped, Subverted and Dreamlike Visions of Tintin. It is an inner journey, made with the guts “, commented to this newspaper, shortly after opening, the curator, before some canvases with almost spectral appearances also by Milú and Hernández and Fernández.

“They are very powerful people. Everyone lowers their ears. I still doubt whether to use all this negative energy to try to do something other than suicide. Although a French artist, Xavier Marabout, you just won a lawsuit against them. He had drawn Tintin into paintings by the American painter Edward Hopper and the court ruled that he had the right to satire “, explains Simal.

The Moulinsart society was created by the British Nick Rodwell, second husband of Fanny Remi, the widow of the Belgian cartoonist, to manage his legacy, and pursues without shaking his hand any unauthorized reproduction against payment of a drawing of Tintin, taking the wayward to court. The Moulinsart ’email’ received by the gallery owner did not question the quality of Nacho Simal’s work but said that it was an unauthorized adaptation of Hergé’s work and, therefore, they asked to confirm that the works were no longer subject to ” public disclosure or trade “.

It was not the first. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, when this newspaper visited the exhibition, they were already expecting it, because just before the opening they had already changed the name of the exhibition, which was to be called ‘Syldavia’, alluding to the imaginary kingdom of the album by Hergé. They had received a burofax from a person [Enric Reverté] who claimed to be the honorary consul of Syldavia, threatening to take legal action against the artist and the gallery for using that name, whose rights to physical supports it claimed to have registered. “He also predicted problems with Moulinsart,” explains Simal. And sure enough, the first email from Rodwell’s company was swift. It came to them a week ago, notifying them that they had heard about the exhibition and asking for photos and information on the works. “We sent them to them, we told them that it was not plagiarism but a revision, a tribute … and we tried to remove the iron from it. But I think they have been investigating us because in the second ’email’ [el de este lunes] They even sent us a photo of the price list of the works and urged the gallery owner not to advertise them and not to talk about the subject “, specifies the creator.

Self-censorship in ‘La Cruda’

But not everything ends with the closure of the exhibition and the prohibition of selling the artist’s works. Published by La Cúpula publishing house, this same week it was going to reach bookstores, although it will have to be delayed the next, a special issue farewell to the magazine ‘La Cruda Negra’, an edition of 500 copies, 180 pages long, where Simal participated reproducing some of the pieces of his dreamlike tintinophilic approach. “They were already in press and I have to go put a stamp on them above censored so that the image is annulled “, reveals the artist, who has exhibited in galleries and museums in Barcelona, ​​Zaragoza and Madrid, but also in Paris, Rome, Rotterdam or London with the collective of artists based in Barcelona ET (Study of the Subject), which he created in 2001.

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“Nacho has made the decision to censor himself, but in his place, maybe I don’t know if he would have done it. Let them take us to court if they want to –challenges Emili Bernárdez, comic editor of La Cúpula and the historic ‘El Víbora’-. What he has done is a tribute because he feels devotion to the character. The right to homage should prevail. ”


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