Dhani Barragan
Dhani Barragan



Dhani Barragan is a Spanish artist, illustrator, and designer. His internationally exhibited work features protagonists in states of change — heroes caught in the act of metamorphosis. He takes beloved cartoon characters, including the likes of Bart Simpson and Spongebob Squarepants, and pushes them to their limits. They appear like plush toys ready to burst at the seams, placed in situations that introduce new levels of pathos and surreality to produce what the artist calls Deconstructed Pop.

The characters emerge from the deep well of collective imagination, archetypes that transition into new, updated forms. In these transformations, Barragan traces many narratives and themes, like the passage of time, the loss of childhood, and the physical expression of inner states. That they appear like mass produced objects in states of duress gives a physicality to their personas, highlighting what it means to be a well known character in a single-use, throwaway culture.

Since 2018, Barragan has worked as part of the Art Toy Gama Collective, a group with global membership headquartered in Spain. Working inside the designer toy movement, Barragan draws on many strands of contemporary pop art — including the work of artists like KAWS, Takashi Murakami, and Javi Calleja. Barragan’s own output always pushes into new mediums, moving between the two and three dimensional.

A significant portion of these works seek to elucidate and explore the Dhu Stories, a universe created by the artist that is ruled by mysterious gods, some cruel and tyrannical, some kind and charitable. Many of these beings prey on the denizens of the universe, exploiting them for resources, clothing, and food.

Another subset of his work focuses on pop culture icons, using their image to connect to his audience beyond intellectual elitism. With these works, he creates cheerful scenes that layer in details that begin to twist the narrative, engaging in social critique. Here, Barragan can also explore his fundamental subject matter of transformation in a new way, as the familiar icons on pop are rendered unfamiliar.

In September 2022, Barragan and the Art Toy Gama Collective joined Avant Gallery to produce a wide range of designer toys and exclusive artwork. This gives the public access to a new wave of exciting pop artwork from a creator at the forefront.