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Artist vents anger with Franco face punch ball

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Artist vents anger with Franco face punch ball
The hyper-realistic silicone punch ball features real human hair. Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP
13:50 CET+01:00
A Spanish sculptor who was unsuccessfully prosecuted by a foundation dedicated to Francisco Franco has responded with a stinging jab by creating a punch ball shaped like the former Spanish dictator’s head.

Eugenio Marino was cleared by a judge in July after the Franco Foundation — an organization devoted to perpetuating the memory of the 'Generalísimo' — sued him for dishonouring the deceased dictator.

The lawsuit was instigated when Marino, 36, created “Always Franco”, a wax model depicting the nationalist leader in full military gear frozen inside a Coca-Cola fridge.

His latest work, Punching Franco is a hyper-realistic, spring-mounted silicone punch ball in the shape of Franco’s head.

It was created in response to the Foundation's legal tactics and Merino says it represents the frustration of the Spanish people.

"It seemed to me that it would be good for those who were persecuted and received no justice, to have this to beat up, like a kind of catharsis" he said.

He added:  "You can do that, get your anger out, because you won’t be able to get much else in Spain."

The sculpture required repairs after it was attacked by a parrot belonging to a photographer, the current owner of the work. But it has also come under attack from the Franco Foundation.

The organization dedicated to the right wing ruler has sued the artist again, denouncing it as a "reproduction of the former head of state bordering on the grotesque and offensive".

Jaime Alonso, vice-president of the Foundation, said, "Offence and slander are not protected as rights in any civilized country".

Similar complaints about Marino’s earlier work were thrown out by the judge who ruled that it "did not alter the reputation or the memory of the historical character but was a critical work that calls for reflection."

Marino's lawyer said after the victory that it had been a clear attempt by devotees of the dictator to stifle artistic freedom.

Franco, who ruled Spain from 1936 till his death in 1975, is usually absent from public discourse in modern Spain.

Franco’s last official statue was pulled down in 2008, although a massive mausoleum he built is still home to a monastery and looms over the Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen) near Madrid.

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