The king & the girls hiking in the island on a Saturday morning, by Don Astaldo, Oil on Canvas, 70 x 60 cm, Ofir Hirsh, 2001

Astaldo, which means the valiant in Elvish, is a character invented by Tolkien. When my girlfriend, Limor, was reading ‘Silmarillion’ by Tolkien, she named herself ‘Nessa’ and gave me the name ‘Astaldo’.
In 2001 I traveled to Miami and lived by myself for 3 months in a ‘boarding house’ room, in what was then considered one of Miami’s neglected neighborhoods, and today is the trendy “Winwood Art District” .
To my Spanish speaking neighbors I presented myself as Astaldo (for some reason I thought it had a Latin appeal), and added the supposedly honorable title of ‘Don’ to my signature.
The walls of my dirty but illuminated room were covered quite fast with pieces of painted canvas of different sizes. I began with painting my future, or what I perceived back then as my vision, fantasy and unrealistic plans. I was mainly obsessed with the concept of “The Island”; living in a tiny tropical island that is isolated from the ills of modern societies: wars, politics, corruption, excessive consumption etc.
In my imagination, I obviously crowned myself as the king of the island, a role that came with a lot of responsibilities and duties, which I took very seriously during week days on the island.
In the weekends I was free and just like any other king, I had the pleasure of hanging out with some of the coolest girls of the kingdom. On late Saturday mornings, I would take them out for challenging walks. Passing through the beaches, rivers and jungles, we circled the island and always came back home exhausted but happy and with a trophy in our hands.