Jaz – urban watercolours
Jaz has painted a number of spectacular pieces in Buenos Aires during the past few weeks.
The zoo of painted animals inhabiting the streets of Buenos Aires acquired a lion and an extraordinary pair of giant polar bears, each 3 metres tall. Jaz had painted a similar piece for the Fuera de la Linea exhibition in Rosario.
His latest paintings feature a theme he explored during his recent trip to the US. His pieces in both the Ritual Exhibition in Brooklyn & the Living Walls conference in Atlanta featured a surreal visual of humans and animals melding together at the head.
The streets act as Jaz’s sketch book. All his ideas begin in the streets, with some later being adapted into gallery pieces. One of the scene’s most prolific artists, his ability to work comfortably and quickly at enormous scales is remarkable, as is his seemingly limitless range of subjects and styles.
Besides his arresting compositions and the imposing scales of his pieces, one of the more unusual qualities of Jaz’s paintings are the materials he works with. His recent paintings use an unconventional artistic medium – asphaltic paint. Also known as bitumen, asphaltic paint is a thick, black viscous liquid typically used in road construction and roofing. Mixed with petrol and blended with industrial white emulsion, asphaltic paint provides the complex array of sepia tones which give Jaz’s pieces their remarkable textures.
Painting with asphaltic paint is cheap. Really cheap. A small container of asphaltic paint has lasted Jaz over two years, and he’s only half way through it. Industrial white emulsion is the cheapest paint money can buy, petrol is substantially cheaper than paint thinner, and asphaltic paint provides all the pigments Jaz needs to render his ideas at huge scales, at minimal cost.
Once applied to the wall, the glistening blend of petrol and bitumen creates textures and reflects light in a markedly different way to spray paint. The mixture covers the wall effortlessly, in washes of colour that build in layers. Jaz’s street painting give the viewer the strange impression that he has somehow managed to paint a huge concrete wall using watercolours.
Roma explained in a recent interview that many artists were forced to improvise with materials following the 2001 crash. The high cost of imported spray paint lead to many artists experimenting with new materials for their street art, however in Jaz’s case it’s principally a stylistic choice.
“I’m taking the same materials that the streets are made from and using them in my paintings” Jaz explains. “I like the connection with the street.”