Interview with – "Carton Pintado" is a stencil collective made up of two artists working under the monikers NN and GG. They share backgrounds in printmaking and graphic design. have a long history with the Argentine street art scene, and led the first wave of stencil art in the capital’s troubled streets following the 2001 crisis. Despite deliberately leave their work unsigned, their profile and following has grown over the years and their street work is immediately recognisable.

After an 8 year hiatus since their last solo exhibition, they returned to the mecca of Argentine street art, Hollywood in Cambodia gallery, for “Carton Pintado” (Painted Cardboard).


NN: “Carton Pintado” emerged from us playing around with cardboard, sketching and experimenting. We liked the format so much it became the concept for the exhibition. Someone even said to us once (makes a mocking voice) “Ahh this is painted cardboard”.

GG: I liked the idea of using cardboard because it’s a challenge, it’s not an easy material to paint. It doesn’t absorb the colours of spray paint well, it’s really cheap, kind of crappy, it bends, it creases…The idea of creating art with it was fun.

NN: When we began to focus on the exhibition concept, we wanted to elevate the quality of work.

GG: All the works in this show are framed to give an artificial impression of quality, which plays with the original concept.

graffitimundo: Some works have specific messages or images, whilst others have very different themes.

GG: Yeah, we thought it would be fun to play with different shapes and we approached it with the intention of exploiting the technique. For example, there are some works where the drawings are not painted, but left as silhouettes, the form is only implied.

NN: In those cases, we want to direct people’s attention to the interplay between the design and material.


graffitimundo: You once said your work has to have a message, even if it is only understood by you. Do you think that people will understand the message this time? Do they care?

GG: The name of the show is quite specific.

NN: And if somehow people see it and feel let down …

GG: (interrupting) That completes the concept!

graffitimundo: How would you explain the phrase “Carton Pintado” to a foreigner?

GG: There is a phrase in English that means the same thing – “Fool’s gold”.


graffitimundo: Do you think the streets are lacking the rebellious stencils of the past? Does it feel noticeable?

NN: The rebellious stencil is there when it’s needed, to accompany any important moment for society. It’s not about rebelling for the sake of rebellion. Anyway, we always liked creating ironic stencils. Maybe now work is being made from an artistic perspective instead of a cynical one.

GG: Maybe we have this need within the collective to focus on irony. But I like the way other artists manipulate the stencil as a tool, for example I really enjoy “gigantism” (i.e. stencils of massive proportions).

Outside of Argentina, have been active on the international scene in recent times. In 2013, they were invited to participate in the European festival “Avant Garde Urbano”, sharing walls with renowned artists Vhils and Rodriguez-Gerada. is part of the Hollywood In Cambodia (HIC) collective with artists rundontwalk, Stencil Land and Malatesta. Together they run Argentina’s first street art gallery.

“Carton Pintado” can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday from 18:00 to 21:00hs in Hollywood in Cambodia.

Interview by Ana Laura Montenegro

Hollywood in Cambodia
Thames 1885 (in the back of Post Bar)

Tester ‘Bruma, a Todo Color’ in Galería UNION

Thanks for everyone who came along to the opening at Galeria UNION last night! Tester’s work is looking incredible. More photos coming soon.

To visit the gallery please send us an email at

UNION, Carlos Calvo 736 Buenos Aires, Monday to Friday, 12-6pm 

Tester ‘Bruma, a Todo Color’, opens 18 September in Galería UNION

Everyone’s invited to the opening of the new show at Galeria UNION on Thursday 18 September. ‘Bruma, a Todo Color’ is a solo exhibition from the extremely talented artist Tester.

Tester’s work crosses the line between the figurative and the abstract. The fear of emptiness and emptiness itself coexist in compositions created around abstract and popular phrases, stamps and lettersets combined with hand-drawn forms. Heavily influenced by the DIY attitude of the local punk rock scene, Tester creates elaborate works using analogue techniques, and incorporates spray-paint, ink and acrylic paint into works which suggest an ordered form of chaos. “Bruma a Todo Color” brings together 20 works on canvas and wood, from small to large format.

“Bruma, a Todo Color” obscures in order to reveal, taking us away from the familiar and directing us to the wanderings of our own imagination. The interpretation of Tester’s work is a continuous process, and the search for meaning within the chaos of his paintings completes the work whilst ensuring an enduring appreciation.

Mariano Tester Alonso is part of the collective Rundontwalk, the Hollywood in Cambodia gallery and the Club Albarellos gallery. A self-taught artist, his career began in the late 1990’s within the local music scene, after which he took his art to the streets before moving indoors to art galleries.

Galería UNION is an art gallery and project space in San Telmo. The space brings together artwork of South American artists in a celebration of contemporary and urban art. UNION is run by the graffitimundo team.

Location: Galería UNION, Carlos Calvo 736, San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Opening night: Thursday, September 18th, 5 – 10pm

UNION opening hours: Mondays to Fridays, 12 – 6pm

For more information: Marina Charles 15 3153 3932 //

“I love the chaos that rain brings"

Photo: Arnaud Paillard

It’s been over a decade since Cabaio began painting on the streets of Buenos Aires, adopting stencil as medium. He’s since become one of the city’s leading stencil artists. graffitimundo interviewed Cabaio as he prepared for his first ever solo show, titled “La Lluvia” (The Rain”).

GM- What is the concept behind “La Lluvia”?

C- “Rain” felt like a metaphor to capture this moment in my life, when everything I’ve had pent up inside for so long can be released. Rain can represent strength, but also chaos, because you never know exactly when it will come. This exhibit is about these storms, the thunder and the downpours in my life.

GM- You’ve chosen the concept of “the rain” as opposed to “the storm”.

C- Yes, the rain is liberating. It brings relief – the calm that follows the storm. Rain is a shared experience that is at the same time different for every person. I love being out in the rain.

GM- You have said in the past that your work is influenced by images you’ve seen which have left their mark on you.

C- Totally. Some of my works contain personal references, which is what I meant when I said that the exhibition captures where I am at this moment. These are the works that best represent me at this time.

GM- What were the first things you painted in the streets?

C– I started painting with Nico (Vomito Attack). We regurgitated the information we were being bombarded with, collecting images and subverting them. That was our dynamic at the time: we would improvise with material that we found in the street. We started interacting with images that were already painted, and the work of others. We would use material we found in the streets, and play about with ways of layering different materials, colours and stencils. At the time the whole process was unplanned and unconscious. Over time I found myself intentionally moving towards simpler and smaller images. These days, my large format works are primarily created using fairly simple images.

GM- How often did you paint?

C– When we first started, we used to paint every week for a year. Then between 2004 to 2006, I painted only painted 2 or 3 times a year. I could only afford to buy the materials to paint regularly when I had money. Then in 2007 or 2008 I started to focus, when I went out I was more alert, always mindful of what I could paint and where. I looked for inspiration; walls and adverts which caught my attention. By then I was hooked and there was no turning back.

GM- At what point did your find the style you are known for as Cabaio?

C- Whilst I was between jobs (that had nothing to do with street art), I began buying materials and had more time to paint. At the time there wasn’t much variety in aerosols; there were only 5 colours available. Even though I hadn’t found my style, I really enjoyed painting. I’d go out to paint by myself at night, and had some really fun, chilled evenings. That’s when I said: “This is what I want to do, I want to keep doing this forever.”

A year before my show with Clara Domingas (“1%”, in Hollywood In Cambodia, 2008) I started feeling more comfortable about the work I was making. Different colour aerosols became available from Kuwait, and this revolutionized the way I worked. Domingas encouraged me to take painting more seriously, and her support was very important to me. Since then time I’ve been painting with more enthusiasm than I have ever had before.

GM- What did you study?

C- I studied architecture, but I quit at the start of 5th year. At that point I was already painting, and it gave me much more satisfaction so I decided to dedicate all my energies to it. Around that time I met Marina ( co-founder of graffitimundo) and we had a few meetings before graffitimundo was created. She sold one of my first works was sold. That made me so happy, I couldn’t believe it. I saw that the work spoke for itself.

GM- How much of an influence did your studies have your art?

C– It influenced me in terms of methodology. At university I learned to love what I do, and I learned to create work with meaning.  Sometimes I became particularly interested and dove into research on one visual style.  I’m sure that my studies in geometry have influenced my work.

GM- Are there other artists that are influential for you right now?

C- I’m very inspired by the readings that Clara Domingas has shared, for example those of the Brazilian psychologist and anthropologist Eduardo Viveiro de Castro.  I also love Walter Benjamin and read Cortazar over and over. In terms of visual artists who I respect and who blow my mind, I’d say: Banksy, Blek le Rat, Acamonchi.  With Acamonchi I really like the way he weaves images together, but I try not to view too much of his work because he’s such an important influence for me!

G- What can you tell us about the works we’ll find in the exhibit “La Lluvia”?

I hope that people can interpret the artworks’ messages, although I’d like everyone to make their own personal interpretation of the pieces. There’s one image of a trainer with a turtle that I only painted once before the show, which represents the idea of trying to force someone to give something what they can’t deliver. I prefer using images just once, as I get bored quickly.

GM- It’s interesting that you use a tool characterized by repetition while you’ve also said that painting an image more than once bores you.

C- Yes, it’s a contradiction but it’s true.  I feel comfortable with the medium but at the same time I would like to close this chapter. I am trying to expand the scale of my work as well as to experiment with other elements.  Right now, for example, I’m working with watercolour with the idea of mixing it with stencil.  I’m looking to break out of my comfort zone and that’s exactly what Chen Chen, the collective we’ve created with Clara Domingas and which is carried out between Buenos Aires and Salvador de Bahía, is about.  We push each other to experiment and to create using new tools and techniques.  That’s how I discovered that I like to draw.  These are phases we go through as well though, because some days I can’t even think of picking up a paintbrush while there are others moments when I want to go out and paint every day.

View the catalogue of Cabaio’s show at Galeria UNION here. Cabaio’s show closes 11 September at Galeria UNION, Carlos Calvo 736, Buenos Aires.

Cabaio la lluvia opening-2

Cabaio La Lluvia (19 of 6) copy Cabaio La Lluvia (2 of 17) H Cabaio La Lluvia (10 of 17) G Cabaio La Lluvia (7 of 17) D

Ana Laura Montenegro