Eduardo Enrique

It was a decision made during COVID. To not give a damn. To not care if the brands that he worked with knew what he does in his art practice. It may seem unusual for a marketing person to take on this stance, but Eduardo Enrique isn’t the average marketing person.

“All I do for work is to convince brands to stay true to what they believe in and connect with the public in a very sincere way,” Enrique shares. 

Like many major world events—9/11, a reality-show star becoming president, the Rohingya refugee crisis, Covid—it is these sorts of grand incidents that one would be cast into an existential funk. For Enrique, he wonders if he should stop hiding who he is and what he does. 

He is no stranger to taking on a nom de plume. His earlier endeavour was Dick Worldwide, where he took fashion accessories and turned them into phalluses. Dick Worldwide blew up when Hypebae reported on his project. He didn’t give a lot of information about himself. He specifically kept away from using pronouns that might give away his gender identity. 

“I didn’t want to attach an identity to the project because it plays a role in what licences you have as an artist,” Enrique says. “It's not a celebration of masculinity. I chose penises because [they are] the oldest form of mockery where there are graffiti of penises back in Renaissance times. If I said I was a woman in the Middle East, the public will see the work in an entirely new way.” 

Identity defines what sort of roles you can have, or even what sort of roles the public expects you to inhabit. As an artist, Enrique finds it challenging to play with sexuality in his work because there’s too much tension around the subject. For Brand Love, Enrique’s last exhibition in Singapore before he left for Hong Kong, he continues questioning pop culture’s fixation with brands with a what-if: What if there was a Nike retail bondage store? 

Taking the identity of a well-known sports brand, Enrique reconstituted it and created fetish garments and bondage equipment. He made sure to keep the installations to be ‘fair’ across genders. “There were two mannequins—one male, one female. I wanted to make sure there’s a good balance between the sexes,” he says. 

“Because we’re in the age of representation, everybody represents something; [they] represent the voice of a certain thing. That’s why my identity as an artist has only to do with the fact that I’m also [a] marketer; it’s never a celebration and a critique against consumerism. It’s an observation because I’m also [a] huge consumer.”

Untitled (2020)

For New Painting, which was held at the Substation in 2020, there was a piece of work with the spray-painted words ‘God’ and ‘Gucci’ with checkboxes next to them. On the first day of the show, a woman, who was smoking mere minutes ago, came in and approached Enrique. She asked him which one he’d pick. He looked at the painting, then back to her. Both, he replied. The woman looked at him and, with a smile, said thank you and left.


“I’m a creative trying to bridge disciplines. Especially in Singapore, everything is so young and arbitrary,” he admits. 

At this point in time, Enrique feels that he is at a perfect intersection to talk about consumerism because he represents the companies in selling the product while commenting on the commercialism part of it. “There’s a love-and-hate relationship,” Enrique says. 

But does that make him a hypocrite? Or can one man embody opposites? 

Enrique funds his own shows. That keeps him free and honest; he is untainted by favours that come with other people’s money. But Enrique thinks that is just how he is. He’s never asked for permission. For his first show, New Painting, he eschewed asking people for permission lest he heard the word no. 

He’s a one-man operation, a self-starter. He chose the Substation, put up his own money, created the artwork which he mounted himself, and opened his exhibition to the public. In his head, he has calculated all possible scenarios of things that could go right and wrong. If he had dwelled on these scenarios, he’d never have put up an art show.

Eduardo Enrique’s bio on The Artling states that “the artist explicitly denies talking about his nationality, as he maintains that one should not be judged based on their geographical origin”. Fair that. But it is in this writer’s opinion that to know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve started from.

Enrique grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. It’s a setting he describes as “very conservative”. His family model isn’t traditional: his parents divorced and his mother raised her kids by herself.

He sees parallels with his mother. “We have the same work ethic,” Enrique reveals. “She’s a go-getter and she finishes what she starts. I don’t think her parents allowed her to be creative. My mum wanted to study architecture but she was forced to choose something else. 

“But she is a fount of creativity and while she never articulated it, she taught me that, to a certain extent, there always needs to be an element of joy in what you do.” 

His childhood was idyllic, but living in a third-world country that’s prone to coups and political upheavals, he became familiar with uncertainty. His family were nomads; Enrique never spent more than four years in the same place. It’s a transient lifestyle that is rather normal to him. He remembers that when he hired someone to help him move, the person asked where the rest of the furniture was. “I’m like, no, this is it,” Enrique says. “As a minimalist, I’ve to let go. Materialism is cyclical.” 

Even the artworks?

“I think you need to be detached to them emotionally,” he says matter-of-factly. “I dispose of a lot of my artwork. I’ll tell people on Instagram that I’m getting rid of a piece and it’s up for grabs.” There is an item that he cannot abandon.

Nike shoes.

He was never much for brands, even when he was living as a stereotype of a Brooklyn hipster when he was working for the creative agency, Swell in New York. Biking, buying vinyls... Enrique was into fashion but he wasn’t into the hype of it. 

“My whole background is in fashion advertising; fashion was about vanity,” he notes. “As a child, vanity was my way of patching up a lot of my insecurities. You buy things to feel empowered, to feel cool.” 

So, when he saw a black pair of Nike Air Force 1, it spoke to him. Enthralled by the silhouette, he forked over money for the sneakers and became a returning customer. He has a collection of Air Force 1s that he can’t bear to be rid of. He lugs them around, this minimalist and his yoke of passion. 

His mother and he lived separately but they still saw each other. Enrique was working at Fabrica then. “She ended up in Singapore. She called me one day and said, hey, I’m going through breast cancer treatment. I quit [my job] and moved to Singapore.”

She got better and Enrique expected to be in Singapore for six months but it stretched to six years. During his tenure, he worked for two creative agencies and made his foray as a full-fledged artist.

"Nude Model in Air Jordans" (2020)

A friend—who prefers to remain anonymous—owns, according to Enrique, “one of his best pieces today”. It’s called "Nude Model in Air Jordans". Taken from his exhibition New Paintings, the piece is a large canvas with the title spray-painted on the back. “When I started, it was important for me to land the idea that I’m not interested in technicality. I’m a conceptual artist. I don’t care about the quality of things. I want people to feel like they could have done what I’ve done. 

New Painting was about classic themes with a twist of modern consumerism. For the front, I tried to render nude modelling or Jordans in so many different ways. But I’ve decided that the front will remain hidden. The painting only exists in your mind and that to me is the best painting I’ve done. 

“This guy looks at it and says that he loves it but can’t articulate why. I told him that I’ll sell it to him if he promises never to see what’s on the front. He agreed, and knowing him, he never did peek at the front.”

Brand Love (2022)

The original plan for Brand Love was to put up a pop-up in the middle of the street. Enrique’s name wouldn’t be on it, but it would be a pop-up that was selling these art pieces. “I’m not Banksy. I’m not somebody with a following,” he states. 

So, Enrique got local art gallery Art Now to house his exhibition during Art Week. “I wanted to make it clear that is art,” he explains. “So we put up all the signs that say I’m not affiliated with Nike. There was only so much planning we could do until Nike sends in the cease-and-desist. It would have been a much different show but I’ll be happy with that outcome as well.” 

This time, he got collaborators to design the interior. He set aside a space for Nike’s cease-and-desist letter. A space in the corner, almost like a taunt. It remained empty throughout the showing. 

Sexual liberation, a commentary on materialism, but there’s another takeaway from Brand Love that not many people will pick up. It’s about courage. “I wanted people who viewed the exhibition to tell me that it took a lot of courage,” Enrique says. Remember, this man is an overthinker and that sort of trait can eclipse that first step in doing. 

Can you imagine doing something that doesn’t shake things up? You can chalk it up to Enrique’s revolutionary South American way of thinking. But to have a true revolution in the culture, you’ll need to challenge the status quo. Love Brand is Enrique’s own little coup in the local art world. He hopes that it’ll at least inspire people to take bigger risks.

"No One Knows" (2020)

Enrique’s life is a series of happy accidents. Recently married (he met his flight-attendant wife on the plane), they are moving to Hong Kong for his new job with Edelman. “Motion represents so much of my life and Singapore is such a dream to live in. There’s no safe place than here, but I am curious about what else is out there,” Enrique says. “Hong Kong seems like a chaotic place, and having come from the chaos I need a little bit of it.”

But first, they would need to travel to Russia so that his wife can get her travel permit. It would be weeks after they arrive there that Russia would invade Ukraine. The battle reminded Enrique of his past, but what he thinks of current events will be another story of his to tell. 

Still, his life is never boring. “My biggest fear in life is to get stuck," Enrique says, "so I’m always challenging myself to just keep blooming."

Originally published April 2022