I love you tonight, by Burrito
Oil on Linen, 59 x 90 cm
Ofir Hirsh, 2004

I never take myself too seriously, thus I consider myself a liberated artist.
Sometimes I’m busy thinking about a new identity that I’m about to crown; the meaning of the name and how it sounds, the theme and where it would take me. Other times, I do not even think about it, I just follow my hunch. I usually tie together these three identities: Burrito, Maco Pen Pen and Cambio. They came one after another and they all came quick to me.
During 2004, I felt that I had enough of Oro, my dominant and first Dominican identity. We (my girlfriend and I) lived in Las-Terrenas, in a residency called: “Punta d’Oro”. Everyone called me Oro, and I signed my paintings as Oro. I wanted to be someone else when I paint. Although my daily reality was happy and beautiful, I still enjoyed very much escaping through painting, and by then, I already knew that changing identity blends the subconscious and provides an inspirational refreshment.
It was a long day of walking, swimming, and playing in “Playa Cana”, an amazing wild beach, a few kilometers from “El Limon” (very different from the famous “Punta Cana”). The sun was descending, and everything was blended with orange, pink and violet. Our tired eyes, which had to digest so much beauty in one day with full sun exposure, found some rest during that gradual lowering of light exposure. At the same time it felt that the level of magic gradually increases. My girlfriend and I climbed the notoriously steep path of “La Cana” with our last energies and on the top of the hill, named by the locals: “La Sabana de Juan”, what suddenly met our eyes was an amazing creature. A newborn Donkey with wool like fur. Beautiful, cute and innocent. “Hey Burrito!” we called him (Spanish for little donkey), and he smiled at us, or at least that what we thought. “Burrito” I said to myself. “I will call myself Burrito”, after this unpretentious little Donkey (not the Mexican Rolls), and despite the overall poor reputation of Donkeys. Burrito painted with grace a few paintings. Then, the Toads season began, and the entire Punt’a d’Oro residency filled up with big, creepy, and very funny toads. They were everywhere. Near the swimming pool and at our doorstep. What I liked the most about them was their local name: “Maco Pen Pen”. With such a cool name, those weird amphibian animals became my stars. I couldn’t hold myself, and I don’t even remember any thought or decision regarding that name. I was painting and once done, I just signed decisively Maco Pen Pen. I signed a few more paintings as Maco Pen Pen. Then, one day, we ran out of Pesos, the local currency, so I went into a local change agency and while I waited for my turn to change some dollars, I was staring at the letterhead saying “CAMBIO” (Spanish for change). I realized that I’m either going through changes or looking for changes. Later that evening, I signed my new paintings as Cambio. It did not take long before I had a shocking encounter in the jungle that made me change my name once more.
If you’ll ask me why I used those names to sign my paintings, I wouldn’t have a decisive answer. I think that I just like to entertain myself. What I do realize now however, is that those names are quite essential for telling the stories I would otherwise forget, and through the name giving process, I actually document my history and my artistic evolution throughout the years.