The world according to ex-pat artist Victor Spinelli is a Bacchanalian romp on the beach with mythological Gods and Goddesses and a never-ending supply of art making, hijinks and adventurous escapades.
Spinelli is a thoughtful, philosophical, multi-dimensional artist who has been living on the island of Ibiza since 2001, where he started as the photographer for Manumission, the theatrical, Fellini-esque clubbing party that took over the island. For years, he documented the wild and uninhibited characters of the night. “I was hired on the spot to document Manumission. 60,000 Spanish pesetas [about $400] each Monday night. It was an incredible ride of 5 summers of which my job was to basically follow the Manumission Girls around for 24 hours. A dream.”
Spinelli’s role and his Camera Verite series is legendary on the island. There is a Victor Spinelli room at the Paradiso Art Hotel, and Pikes Hotel, one of the most infamous on the island, permanently showcases 65 pieces of his art throughout.
Spinelli has been hooked on island life ever since and it fuels much of his art. As a self-professed member of the hippie jet set — which shows how far hippies have come — he has over 80 stamps in his passport, seen sunrises from Cambodian temples and desertscapes from the back of a motorcycle and even photographed Mother Teresa.
He also just barely missed landing his Hot Air Balloon inside the walls of a prison. With quick maneuvering, he was able to edge the balloon over the guarded walls, manned with snipers, and into the visitor’s parking lot. In Spinelli fashion, he soon had the warden and guards posing for pictures.
In addition to his playful, and often very sexy, photographs, Spinelli takes on weightier themes — the Earth’s health, women’s rights, cultural imbalances, exploitation, mortality, and human consciousness— all laced with a touch of surrealism. For his Crucifixion sculpture series, which addresses the killing of animals for sport and commodity, he painstakingly reassembles animal skeletons, or skulls, setting them on steel and wood crosses.
For Burning Man 2019, Spinelli created Diver UP, an eight-foot-tall wooden sculpture of a feminine torso wearing an industrial divers’ helmet that was eventually burned on the “Man’s” ashes. The torso rises from the ground, a “Goddess” freeing herself from the shackles of society and history.
The intention of the work is to start a conversation about equality and inclusion. Spinelli plans to bring her back to Burning Man this August. This time, he’s offering 50 shares of it; each share represents 2% ownership to finance the construction, transportation and installation of the statue.
There are also discussions to someday submerge an ecologically-safe Diver, made of Ph Neutral concrete, on Ibiza’s seabed, where her body will attract coral and other sea life, reinvigorating ocean marine life while raising awareness of the fragile ecosystem.
In addition to his work in film, commercials, music videos, paintings, ceramics, and large sculptural installations, he’s now debuting a 132-page graphic novel entitled, Tropic of Ouzo, based on his screenplay Cigarettes, Ouzo & Dynamite, co-written with Steven Briante.
A dark, sexy comedy set in sensual Mykonos, with Greek Gods and Goddesses in human form mingling with the islanders, the script involves a bet between the Titan Cronus and the Olympian Mercury on whether the human race has integrity and virtue. We follow the hero, Tyrus, an East-end, London DJ backpacker and his fiancée Sophie on a wild journey of, basically, dancing, drugs and sexual escapades, discoveries and surprises, until Fate intervenes and Tyrus has a choice between immortality or death. Cliffhanger!
If all goes as planned and he can get it made as a movie, it’ll be a cult classic with a rocking, eclectic soundtrack. “Think Burning Man meets Pulp Fiction,” he says.