Tube posters attacked with chewing gum, phallic scribbles on bus stops - defacing the work of the admen might not seem like a radical idea.

But over 20 years ago, Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada was starting of a revolution which did just that: subvert advertising to make anti capitalist statements using art.

It became known as 'culture jamming', and it led to the start of a global street art movement.

barack obama For his work Expectation, Rodríguez-Gerada created a portrait of Barack Obama from 650 metric tons of sand and gravel.


Cuban-American artist Rodríguez-Gerada first became sceptical of advertising when he saw the effect billboard images would have on the New Jersey and New York communities he grew up in.

A kind of Robin Hood of street art, he'd deface billboard ads in poor minority areas, taking his own stance against the ‘Man’, and get arrested a few times in the process.

In his college days, Rodríguez-Gerada, as part of the infamous Artflux and Cicada crews, would change billboards and street signs on the streets of New York. Their work was influential - anti-advertising Bible, Naomi Klein’s No Logo, dedicated an entire chapter to it.

Speaking about the early 90s, he tell HuffPost: “Our youth, and the use of parody, moved our adbusting and street art in the direction of satire and humour.”

rodriguez geradaOne of the artist's giant charcoal portraits brightens a bleak landscape in Ljublijana.


“But after a while I realised that I didn’t want my body of work to eventually be seen as a long list of one liners. I started working alone and decided to focus on a 'Culture Jamming' direction that had more poetic strength.”

Like any artist, Rodríguez-Gerada has moved on, and up. But his attitudes towards the industry remain similar now.

“Advertising and marketing create a hyper reality where happiness and success become external goals to be obtained through consumption,” he says.

“These industries sell values and concepts of success, worth, love, sexuality and normalcy. They show a world in which people are rarely poor, unattractive, overweight, living with difficulty or disabled.”

jorge rodríguezgerada One of the portraits in process in Monterrey, Spain.


“I believe that our identity should come from within and not from the brands that we wear. We should question who chooses our cultural icons and role models, our values and aesthetics.”

These attitudes remain his inspiration in his arresting public work now, which is an altogether larger affair - taking on not just advertising, but political thought too. The results are thought-provoking work, which make typical street art look like child’s play.

IDENTITY SERIES is a body of work which makes icons out of nobodies, huge charcoal portraits Rodriguez-Gerada has transferred onto centuries-old buildings. That they are ephemeral is the point.

"Once people realise that the murals are created to fade away they become contemplative. Society has become unaccustomed to think that it is worth doing a laborious task unless there is direct economic compensation.”

In contrast, Rodríguez-Gerada explored icons in his TERRESTRIAL SERIES - notably, creating Barack Obama’s face in a vast expanse of sand and gravel, an experience the artist compares to “creating a giant Mandala to pray for change but alluding to how all the hope could fade away like sand.” The work was tagged to the 2009 American Election, but made in Barcelona - Rodríguez-Gerada’s way of showing that the election outcome would change the world.

Looking to the future, his next project is to curate the ambitious Avant-Garde Urbano Festival in Spain, an event held in a town where medieval architecture contract with murals by contemporaries such as Blu, El Mac, Sixeart, Sam3 and Suso33.

"This year the town is looking forward to new murals by Escif, C215, Dran and Ripo," Rodríguez-Gerada explains.

"It´s always a great time."

Loading Slideshow...
  • EXPECTATION

    2008 - Barcelona, Spain EXPECTATION was a giant mandala in the likeness of Barack Obama made with 650 metric tons of sand and gravel created on a Barcelona beachfront administered by the Forum de las Culturas. It was created as a way to pray for change but also alludes to how all the outpouring hope could fade away like sand. Created before the U.S. presidential elections, this piece pointed to how the outcome of the election would affect the whole world. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • EXPECTATION

    2008 - Barcelona, Spain EXPECTATION was a giant mandala in the likeness of Barack Obama made with 650 metric tons of sand and gravel created on a Barcelona beachfront administered by the Forum de las Culturas. It was created as a way to pray for change but also alludes to how all the outpouring hope could fade away like sand. Created before the U.S. presidential elections, this piece pointed to how the outcome of the election would affect the whole world. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • EXPECTATION

    2008 - Barcelona, Spain EXPECTATION was a giant mandala in the likeness of Barack Obama made with 650 metric tons of sand and gravel created on a Barcelona beachfront administered by the Forum de las Culturas. It was created as a way to pray for change but also alludes to how all the outpouring hope could fade away like sand. Created before the U.S. presidential elections, this piece pointed to how the outcome of the election would affect the whole world. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Homage to Enric Miralles

    2009 - Barcelona, Spain The piece was a giant mandala in homage to the Spanish architect Enric Miralles on the tenth anniversary of his untimely passing. Benedetta Tagliabue and EMBT, the studio that they both founded, organized a reunion for friends and family to remember the architect. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Homage to Enric Miralles

    2009 - Barcelona, Spain The piece was a giant mandala in homage to the Spanish architect Enric Miralles on the tenth anniversary of his untimely passing. Benedetta Tagliabue and EMBT, the studio that they both founded, organized a reunion for friends and family to remember the architect. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Homage to Enric Miralles

    2009 - Barcelona, Spain The piece was a giant mandala in homage to the Spanish architect Enric Miralles on the tenth anniversary of his untimely passing. Benedetta Tagliabue and EMBT, the studio that they both founded, organized a reunion for friends and family to remember the architect. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Homage to Enric Miralles

    2009 - Barcelona, Spain The piece was a giant mandala in homage to the Spanish architect Enric Miralles on the tenth anniversary of his untimely passing. Benedetta Tagliabue and EMBT, the studio that they both founded, organized a reunion for friends and family to remember the architect. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Gal·la

    2010 - Delta del Ebro, Spain The GAL·LA project was created as part of the first planetary art exhibit called "eARTh" curated by 350.org. It was created on the beach of the Delta del Ebro in Spain using shade material and wooden posts. Designed as a sun stencil, the piece was made to bring attention to the problem of sunlight/heat that cannot escape back into space because of greenhouse gases. I chose a little girl named Gal·la who lives in the Delta del Ebro and created this icon in her likeness, an icon to symbolize all the reasons for the world to act today. Her portrait was constructed using a labyrinth design to allude to the tenacity of the human spirit to find a solution. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • 2010 - Delta del Ebro, Spain The GAL·LA project was created as part of the first planetary art exhibit called "eARTh" curated by 350.org. It was created on the beach of the Delta del Ebro in Spain using shade material and wooden posts. Designed as a sun stencil, the piece was made to bring attention to the problem of sunlight/heat that cannot escape back into space because of greenhouse gases. I chose a little girl named Gal·la who lives in the Delta del Ebro and created this icon in her likeness, an icon to symbolize all the reasons for the world to act today. Her portrait was constructed using a labyrinth design to allude to the tenacity of the human spirit to find a solution. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Gal·la

    2010 - Delta del Ebro, Spain The GAL·LA project was created as part of the first planetary art exhibit called "eARTh" curated by 350.org. It was created on the beach of the Delta del Ebro in Spain using shade material and wooden posts. Designed as a sun stencil, the piece was made to bring attention to the problem of sunlight/heat that cannot escape back into space because of greenhouse gases. I chose a little girl named Gal·la who lives in the Delta del Ebro and created this icon in her likeness, an icon to symbolize all the reasons for the world to act today. Her portrait was constructed using a labyrinth design to allude to the tenacity of the human spirit to find a solution. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Composite Identity Badalona

    2010 - Badalona, Spain The Identity Composite/Badalona project consists of 3D facial scans of 34 people, one person from each of the 34 neighbourhoods of Badalona, Spain. These 34 scans were combined using an algorithm program to create a composite/average face. It was created for the IDENTITYS project that was developed by the Kognitif platform for the city of Badalona in July 2010. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Composite Identity UAB

    2009 - Barcelona, Spain The Identity Composite/UAB project consists of 3D facial scans of 100 people based on the demographic of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Catalonia Spain. It was created while taking part in the UAB Artist in Residence program. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Neuquen Barcelona

    2002 - Barcelona, Spain Mural created in the Horta neighbourhood. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Jordi Barcelona

    2003 - Barcelona, Spain Mural created in the Poble Nou neighborhood. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Ma Antonia, Josep, Dolors Barcelona

    2003 - Barcelona, Spain Murals created in the Poble Nou neighbourhood. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Paco Barcelona

    2004 - Barcelona, Spain Mural created in the Barceloneta neighbourhood. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Maria Barcelona

    2004 - Barcelona, Spain Mural created in collaboration with Fundación Arte y Derecho in the Raval neighbourhood. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Concepcion Buenos Aires

    2004 - Buenos Aires, Argentina Mural created for the MALBA, Museum of Latin American Art from Buenos Aires. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Antonio Madrid

    2005 - Madrid, Spain Mural created for the TRANSURBANCIA exhibition at the Casa Encendida. Curated by Alba Lucia Romero and Fernando Rubio Ahumada. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Raquel-Maria Madrid

    2006 - Madrid, Spain Mural created for MADRID/PROCESOS in the Chamberi neighbourhood. Curated by AVAM and RMS la Asociación. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Jabonero Tudela

    2006 - Tudela de Navarra, Spain Mural created for the THE IDENTITY OF THE COLLECTIVE MEMORY solo exhibition at the Palace of the Marqués de San Adrián. Curated by Javier Briongos Ibáñez. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • 2006 - Tudela de Navarra, Spain Mural created for the THE IDENTITY OF THE COLLECTIVE MEMORY solo exhibition at the Palace of the Marqués de San Adrián. Curated by Javier Briongos Ibáñez. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Emma Barcelona

    2006 - Barcelona, Spain Mural created for the INTERFERENCIA project. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Emma Barcelona

    2006 - Barcelona, Spain Mural created for the INTERFERENCIA project. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Daniel Madrid

    2006 - Madrid, Spain Mural created in collaboration with Petru near the Plaza de San Ildefonso in the Malasaña neighborhood. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Daniel Madrid

    2006 - Madrid, Spain Mural created in collaboration with Petru near the Plaza de San Ildefonso in the Malasaña neighborhood. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Sandra Sao Paulo

    2007 - Sao Paulo, Brazil Mural created for THE CONQUEST OF SPACE - NEW FORMS OF STREET ART exhibition at the SESC Pinheiros. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • David Vitoria

    2007 - Vitoria, Basque Country, Spain. Mural created as part of the VARIACIONES CARTOGRÁFICAS exhibition at the Centro Cultural Montehermoso. Curated by Alba Lucía Romero. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • 2007 - Vitoria, Basque Country, Spain. Mural created as part of the VARIACIONES CARTOGRÁFICAS exhibition at the Centro Cultural Montehermoso. Curated by Alba Lucía Romero. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Maria Dolors Badalona

    2008 - Badalona, Spain IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Julio Granada

    2008 - Granada, Spain Mural created for INTERFERENCIA GRANADA. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Julio Granada

    2008 - Granada, Spain Mural created for INTERFERENCIA GRANADA. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • 2008 - Granada, Spain Mural created for INTERFERENCIA GRANADA. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • David London

    2008 - London, United Kingdom Mural created in collaboration with the Anipa gallery in Knightsbridge London. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Tina Ljubljana

    2009 - Ljubljana, Slovania Mural created for MoTA, Museum of Trasitory Art. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Tina Ljubljana

    IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Santos Valencia

    2009 - Valencia, Spain Mural created for Observatori 2009 / An International Festival of Artistic Investigation in Valencia Spain. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Santos Valencia

    2009 - Valencia, Spain Mural created for Observatori 2009 / An International Festival of Artistic Investigation in Valencia Spain. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Aurelio Monterrey

    2010 - Monterrey, México Mural created in 2010 for the Seres Queridos Project in Monterrey Mexico in collaboration with the Marco Museum, Nobulo and Arto. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Aurelio Monterrey

    2010 - Monterrey, México Mural created in 2010 for the Seres Queridos Project in Monterrey Mexico in collaboration with the Marco Museum, Nobulo and Arto. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Chabalita Monterrey

    2010 - Monterrey, México Mural created in 2010 for the Seres Queridos Project in Monterrey Mexico in collaboration with the Marco Museum, Nobulo and Arto. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Chabalita Monterrey

    2010 - Monterrey, México Mural created in 2010 for the Seres Queridos Project in Monterrey Mexico in collaboration with the Marco Museum, Nobulo and Arto. IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Manolo Buenos Aires

    2012 - Buenos Aires, Argentina Mural created in Colegiales neighborhood. "I took a trip to Argentina to be with my wife's family to spread my father in law's ashes near the Sierra de la Ventana (one of his favorite places). He was an impressive man who loved culture. I enjoyed the way he looked at the world and the way he transmitted to those around him wisdom, simplicity and hope with his gaze. This is a new direction of permanent murals that I'll be doing more of in the near future." Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Yousif Manama Bahrain

    2012 - Manama, Bahrain. "I went to the city of Manama in Bahrain to make a mural as part of the Alwan 338 festival put together by the Al Riwaq Art Space. Knowing the current situation there, I was a little apprehensive but a good friend working with the gallery explained the special nature of what the Al Riwaq Art Space was doing. I met some truly extraordinary people who believe in the role of contemporary art in their country's future. Against all odds they strive to change the barren artistic landscape that exists in Bahrain today. There are so many layers to the place. There is a huge class division, exotic cars, colossal images of the king everywhere, boundless hospitality, arrests, the smell of tear gas every weekend, road blocks, women who can drive and are free to dress as they wish, a graffiti war between dissidents and the police, an American naval base since 1947, Fuddruckers, Sizzlers, a clamp down on dissident areas, the legal sale of alcoholic beverages, a rich cultural history... It is easy to resort to the didactic or aesthetically pleasing image, but it is much more difficult to create poetic and emotionaly charged art that can reach you at different levels. There are few Bahraini artists creating profound work about this multilayered place and time. Al Riwaq Art Space is trying to change that and I have nothing but admiration for their efforts. My Identity Series murals fade away with the wind and rain. I decided to create a mural of a traditional Bahraini fisherman, one of a few hundred that are left." Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • 2012 - Manama, Bahrain. "I went to the city of Manama in Bahrain to make a mural as part of the Alwan 338 festival put together by the Al Riwaq Art Space. Knowing the current situation there, I was a little apprehensive but a good friend working with the gallery explained the special nature of what the Al Riwaq Art Space was doing. I met some truly extraordinary people who believe in the role of contemporary art in their country's future. Against all odds they strive to change the barren artistic landscape that exists in Bahrain today. There are so many layers to the place. There is a huge class division, exotic cars, colossal images of the king everywhere, boundless hospitality, arrests, the smell of tear gas every weekend, road blocks, women who can drive and are free to dress as they wish, a graffiti war between dissidents and the police, an American naval base since 1947, Fuddruckers, Sizzlers, a clamp down on dissident areas, the legal sale of alcoholic beverages, a rich cultural history... It is easy to resort to the didactic or aesthetically pleasing image, but it is much more difficult to create poetic and emotionaly charged art that can reach you at different levels. There are few Bahraini artists creating profound work about this multilayered place and time. Al Riwaq Art Space is trying to change that and I have nothing but admiration for their efforts. My Identity Series murals fade away with the wind and rain. I decided to create a mural of a traditional Bahraini fisherman, one of a few hundred that are left." Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Maria Tudela

    2010 - Tudela, Spain IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada

  • Maria Tudela

    2010 - Tudela, Spain IMAGE: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada