"Conciencia Magica" – prize winning mural in Caballito

Congrats go to Federación de Stickboxing for winning the graffiti mural category of the Banco Itau urban art award.

The all-female crew were chosen to transform a 70 metre wall in Parque Rivadavia, Caballito. Together they covered every inch of the brick wall in an array of psychedelic stencils, paste ups and painted figures.

Congrats also go to Pedro Perelman (PMP) who won the graffiti 3D category, his piece is due to be created in Puerto Madero in the weeks to come.

Great to see the Minister of Public Spaces come out in support of urban art, and kudos to Banco Itau & Estilo Libre for organizing a great event.

Next up – Estilo Libre & the Ministry of Environment and Public Spaces have joined forces to bring the world famous Meeting of Styles graffiti art festival to Buenos Aires in November. The festival will see a number of public spaces throughout Buenos Aires transformed by local stars and celebrated international talent. More details soon!

federacion stickboxing Itau arte urbano prize

federacion stickboxing Itau arte urbano prize

federacion stickboxing Itau arte urbano prize

Interview: Mart

On a sunny spring day, graffitimundo met up with the artist Mart. Surrounded by cans of spray paint and friends who had stopped by to watch, Mart chatted with us as he painted.

How did your career as an artist begin?

I used to paint my name everywhere at school, but I didn’t know what graffiti was. Then I met Dano, who was my older sister’s boyfriend. Dano introduced me to graffiti and taught me the techniques behind it. We started to go out painting together, and I was still really young, only 12 years old. It was an incredible adventure.

It was funny… at school you’d get back from the holidays and the teacher would ask the class what everyone had done during their vacation. The others would say things like “I went to…wherever…with my family”. And then when they asked me I would say, “I painted a train with a friend”. The teacher looked at me like I was a delinquent.

mart bike cceba

When you first started painting, did you ever think about developing it into something bigger?

No, never. I never studied painting so I really never imagined anything happening with it. But I kept on painting, and after a while I’d get asked to do a show somewhere, and I’d accept. Then others projects would come my way, and I’d accept them too.

Its the same story today – people email me with jobs without me ever having to look for them.  I’ve got a good website, besides I’ve just let things develop naturally.

Was there ever a moment when you stopped looking at painting as just a hobby and started to take it more seriously?

Things changed when I landed my first big job that paid really well, which was with Cartoon Network. There was a major shift at that point, not just because of the job though. I saw a lot of my friends end up in jail, and realized that instead of doing things that would put me there as well, I had the chance to do something that wasn’t going to bother anyone, plus I could make good money doing it.

I realized that I loved painting. I could make a living from it and it was good for me, so it seemed like a perfect combination.

mart blossom street art

How do you feel about the neighbourhood you’ve grown up in?

It’s my place, my home. We were always the kids in the street. Now I’ve found my own way of continuing to do what I’ve always liked. When I was little all of us started off in the streets, I’m still here doing the same thing, it’s great.

I’ve found a way to remain a child, and it’s fantastic.

Your murals vary between abstract and figurative pieces, why is that? How do you decide which is right for a mural?

I’m a person in constant flux and so the subjects of my paintings change as well. I can’t keep doing the same thing all the time, once I’ve done something I won’t do it again.

I draw a lot, in black and white with pen. In fact I never stop drawing, I sketch about 20 drawings a day. And then I’ll see a wall and remember a drawing, and think, “that drawing could work here, and the space deserves it.”

For me, the space itself is really important for the painting, as much as the painting is for the space.

Your characters always have really interesting clothing, they have a lot of style.

Some day I would love to have a clothing line, that’s a dream of mine. I’ve always liked fashion and to design a line of clothing would be amazing.

mart street art

What motivates you to paint?

When the sun’s out I’m inspired. That’s really important. Getting together with friends, putting on an event, that really motivates me. When I’m out painting and living these moments I always think about how I can maintain this life, and keep doing this forever.

Do you ever think about why you paint?

No, no. If I asked myself why I paint I’d have to stop. I don’t know why I paint. I don’t like what I draw, I never have. That sort of pushes me to continue painting.

The day that I like something that I’ve drawn is the day I will stop painting. It’s like a constant cycle. But what I do know is that painting keeps me sane, I have to continue painting in order to be well.

* * * * *

More from Mart: http://flavors.me/airesmart

mart street art

Banksy – lost in translation?

An abandoned two storey period building in San Telmo has unexpectedly acquired a number of Banksy stencils. The images are careful reproductions of pieces that Banksy originally created in New Orleans, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The image at the bottom right of the building depicts a girl whose umbrella seems to be raining on her. In the context of flooded, weather-beaten New Orleans it was a poignant piece.

The creepy looking painter on the left hand side of the mansion is another piece originally painted in New Orleans. This image represented a local legend known as “the grey ghost” – an anti-graffiti vigilante who used to cover graffiti in grey paint wherever he found it, irrespective of the original colour of the wall. More about the grey ghost here.

Set against the imposing colonial mansion the reproductions look pretty dramatic, especially the gas-masked figures ascending a painted staircase. But out of context these images lose their relevance.

Banksy’s success has stemmed from his ability to use street art to make a salient point in a relevant setting. Whilst these reproductions look great, their essence has been lost in translation.

Interview: Roma

Roma is something of a legend in the world of graffiti & street art, even more so in his neighbourhood of Ballester.

He was one of the first artists to begin experimenting with graffiti in the 90s, but like many artists of his generation, he chose to push beyond letter-based graffiti and spray paint and explore different styles, techniques and materials.

Melissa Foss interviewed Roma about his unique style and his changing relationship with his art and the streets.

* * * * *

gm: How do you you plan your murals? Do you sketch out what you’re going to paint, or do you prefer to improvise?

ROMA: Personally, I love painting freestyle and that applies on a number of levels. It makes painting letters really fun, drawings tend to be faster and the attitude in front of the wall is totally spontaneous, plus the context is a major influence throughout.

Even with large murals that involve more dedication and care, freestyle is still really fun and unlike with letters, the mural making process usually ends up being more introspective for me. It steers me towards a more internal search, where feelings and thought come into play a lot more in the process; the soul, and the true essence of “I”.

This is really important aspect of painting for me, I end up falling in love with the composition and process itself and don’t become overly fixated on the final result. This is what drives me to look deeper inside myself. I generally only use sketches for jobs and when I need a clear plan for what I want to do.

gm: What type of materials do you work with?

ROMA: Aerosol is my primary tool. From the very beginning it was aerosol that got me out painting in the streets. It’s magic – tracing, filling in, blending, all of it.

Beyond that, I love experimenting with other mediums. Watercolours are great, as are materials like asphalt paint, latex, oils… I’ve even used car grease, tea, urine and bull blood.

We started using materials other than spray paint after the economic crisis in Argentina in 2001 – a crisis that still defines how a large part of society lives. Spray paint was and still is expensive and we live in an underdeveloped country where it’s difficult to find quality materials that aren’t toxic. Today there are brands who import spray paint, but they don’t really support local artists.

roma buenos aires street art

gm: What other artistic projects have you been involved in?

ROMA: Different jobs and projects come about as a result of painting. It’s not difficult for me to come up with different aesthetic solutions. I love working on other types of project, like photography and cinema amongst others others.

I recently started making shelves for a major women’s clothing line. They had a new store opening and wanted a theme based around “the sea”… So I prepared some designs for furniture for the shop, along with painted units to fit within the space. I was in charge of the ideas, designs and painting and an excellent team of carpenters headed by my cousin took care of the construction of the pieces.

Right now I’m working in a bike park where I’m creating signage and design of the area as well as securing sponsors, among other things. It’s set across 3 hectares of land and is a lot of fun.

gm: How does your process change when you’re painting an object, a canvas or an urban wall?

ROMA: I love painting objects. Each one has its own character and each piece of furniture has an impact on its surroundings. Objects can end up taking on a life of their own and their presence can be really powerful.

Canvases have a really mental and spiritual hold on me and I’m grateful to each one, as well being grateful for the fact that they physically endure over time. On canvas I bare my soul. Obviously the process is totally different; I can paint a canvas whilst naked, drinking mate and listening to Bill Evans in my house, whereas you can’t really paint urban walls quite as casually. Walls are full of love and hate, and the street reflects what we are and what we want.

roma buenos aires street artist

gm: Nobody likes labels, but do you consider yourself to be a graffiti artist or muralist?

ROMA: I’m a graffiti artist from head to toe, without a doubt! I was born a graffiti artist, and thats always going to be my background. I was lucky to be one of the first 30 local artists to be painting trains back in 1996, at 13 years old, when there was no internet and there were no magazines. We had to make do with the graffiti we saw in the backgrounds of Beastie Boys videos. Painting was all I could think about; trains, rooftops & tags, the crews, hardcore music, punk, rap and the energy of the street.

I know that increasingly my pieces don’t really fit neatly into the category of “graffiti”, but that’s where they come from. Sometimes I get criticised by writers who think we need to stay true to the old school styles, but I’m a person who favours change.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll end up creating sculptures and painting will just be a memory of something from another time, like how it is today with painting trains. There’s been a clear evolution in my work, both artistically and in terms of the materials I use. It’s only natural for things to change over time.

Experimenting with different materials and mediums has helped us be more objective about what we’re looking to achieve artistically. In the 90’s there were letters, then came characters, realism, fileteado porteño, backgrounds and then the abstract pieces we’re creating today. Sometimes I wonder what will come next.

* * * * *

Images are taken from Roma’s Flickr – www.flickr.com/rojoroma

Roma @ fuera de la linea

Roma + Sam steet art

Roma + Poeta + Sam