All posts tagged: Fusca

Mexico City: Aerosol Artists, Aztecs and Magic on the Street

Mexico City: Aerosol Artists, Aztecs and Magic on the Street

Every city has its own particular energy; it’s own articulated rhythm, its own unique chaos.

Mexico City’s is full of flourish and aspiration and fascination for the international new, while firmly rooted in respect for the past. When it comes to Street Art, murals, graffiti and discordant sub-cultural art movements that can disrupt the norm, this city shows the capacity to absorb and adapt and to continue moving forward, providing meaningful insights into the true nature of its people.

Curiot. Detail. For Lienzo Capital Project with Street Art MUJAM. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This magic city of more than 20 million is often referred to as a gateway to Latin America: economically, socially, and politically. With high tech industry, banks, multi-national companies, a university system that serves 300,000 students, 150 museums, three UNESCO World Heritage sites… you can see why. With heavy traffic despite a subway system and many forms of public transportation, it can take hours for you to cross Mexico City (Distrito Federal (D.F)) and you can be assured that you’ll probably never see all 16 boroughs.

El Mac. Detail. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As Street Art and its associated movements move through Central and South America, invariably D.F. appears as an important tierra cultural to traverse. From an active graffiti scene and occasional mural festivals to a growing gallery representation and increasing museum interest, urban artists are capturing the attention of the Americas, making heads spin in public space. With Mexico City capturing nearly all the aspects at once, today we take a look at the city and give you only a few examples of the art in the streets here.

El Mac. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The September 19th earthquake of 2017 shook Mexico City exactly 32 years after 10,000 lost their lives in a larger one, the largest. With broken sidewalks and taped off buildings still as physical evidence, you can hear in the voices the trauma that rocked tall buildings back and forth like huge ships on the sea. In addition to these more physical shocks, the city has been rocked in recent years by a rising evidence of frightening power shifts relating to drug traffickers, accusations of institutional corruption, and a sharply rising economic inequality that is transforming developing/developed societies across the globe.

Built upon the ruins of the Aztec city called Tenochtitlán, which was one of the worlds largest in the 15th century, Mexico City appears persistently ebullient when banding together against adversity. Determined to excel beyond the horrors of conquest by the Spanish that decimated an entire indigenous culture, still the ruins rise above the ground and this multi-hued global city rumbles forward with determination.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sleek high rises and brightly patterned folkloric art and aerosol sprayed graffiti tags next to massive murals all blend and swirl like the jarabe Tapatío hat dance from block to block – a decisive commixture of the “brand new” with a heritage of indigenous/invader cultures that ruled here hundreds of years before. Today it’s a hybrid of purposeful optimism and wizened survival instincts that pushes the city forward, despite the shocks endured.

SEGO. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The magic and realism so famously combined by authors like Garcia Márquez and Esquivel along with the brutal honesty of Mexican filmmakers like Inarritu, del Toro and Cuaron is fused onto the bricks of colonial mansions and cinderblock industrial neighborhoods like Roma-Condesa and Centro Histórico. These colonias and others like Xochimilco and Coyoacán are historic, commercial, somehow always in transition.

Buster (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you walk and weave over the chunks of disrupted sidewalks, the local mechanic’s car-repair taking place on the curb is complimented by the smell of stacks of fresh tortillas from the tiny tortilleria. The booming tented markets of witty pop-culture t-shirts, knock-off sneakers, and decorative phone cases are sharing your memory space with the eye-popping magenta, sea foam green, and lemon sherbert yellow hues of huge layered toile netting as quinceañera skirts plumped full of Dior and displayed regally behind full glass windows, shop after shop.

The narrow street in old Centro Historico surges with the sound of a live heavy metal band demonstrating the equipment at a music store at lunch time, and three Argentinian Street Artists (Ever, Elian, and Jaz) are creating plumes of aerosol paint from the opened second floor veranda doors across the street while home-made Judas Priest reverberates over and around the slowly moving bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Arty & Chikle. “Only Love”. Street Art MUJAM in collaboration with the Mexico City National Youth Institute for Young Adults. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Of Mexico, “it’s always high noon and what glows is fuchsia and what’s dead is dead,” said author Henry Miller in his book Black Spring, and some spirit of that rings true here where so many objects and situations you encounter can be amazing and revelatory and yet locals simply roll them in a tortilla and toss it on a hot oiled comal for dinner.

The music options alone can be illustrative of the variety here: Las Madrigalistas are performing holiday classics in the Palacio Bellas Artes, Ricky Martin just played free for 100,000 in the Zocalo, there is an active punk scene that rivals many, a hiphop scene that draws fans from nearby cities, and a reverence for 1980s artists like Depeche Mode and The Misfits, and an almost religious devotion to Morrisey.

D*Face (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The scale of the murals can be as vast as the city, equally eclectically handmade and warm. Thanks to a rich heritage of mural-making and artists like Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros in the last century, the new generation of Mexicanos are interpolating the currents that ripple and wave through a society wedded to fierce independence and tradition. Today it is again rocked by our instant access to information and a global sense of modernity.

JET (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This means that an international Street Art scene in D.F. features not only Mexican alchemists like Saner, Curiot, Farid Rueda, Lesuperdemon, Dhear and Sego (among others) but also invites the English D*Face, Italians Ericailcane and BLU, Belgian ROA, Los Angelianos Retna and El Mac, Polish M-City, Argentian JAZ and German duo Herakut to influence the voice of the street. With a visual wealth of inspiration and disruptive or unusual imagery in play on the street, this still  jittery city smiles and confronts you as the year turns, a response that is in flux and fiesta, sorrow and memory, outrage and magic.

ROA. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

While traveling through the city with Roberto Shimizu, a central figure in the modern Street Art/mural scene here, and by visiting Street Artists and critical curators and organizers in studios and alternative spaces inside and outside the city, we garnered a greater appreciation for the complexity of the story here. It is distinctly different from the model we’ve seen elsewhere and explains the less showy trajectory that this still organic ecosystem has taken.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As in most cities today you’ll find the organic and autonomous quality of works is best represented by one-off, handmade individual pieces of art and stickers throughout neighborhoods, many anonymous. These are not the large scale legal murals that unfamiliar observers sometimes refer to as Street Art. These are still the lifeblood of any real Street Art scene and are often indicators of its truer eclectic nature.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Maybe because there isn’t a large collector base for this work, or because some brands/marketers have already cheapened its image a bit, but Street Art hasn’t blossomed in the gallery world here to a great extent. Instead, true cultural curators like Shimizu have consistently led it directly to his festival programs or his family’s Mexico City’s Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM), and professors at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) are teaching about it to students .

Milamores and El Flaco. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We usually find the true nature of Street Art here is still in the streets – and in the artists community. In the Chulula area of nearby Puebla outside Mexico City, the mysterious renaissance seer named Milamores has quietly curated walls of many local and international artists over the last half decade, offering his compound and dogs for rest and companionship in a supportive artists space. Together with video animation artist Flaco he is presenting Street Art via Virtual Reality experiences that are in tandem with his organically grown mural program. Built on the site of a collapsed building from the 1985 earthquake, the artist/activist collective and community garden Huerto Roma Verde provides classes and workshops on art, sustainable architecture, gardening, and theater and has helped many artists to with mural opportunities as well.

Diana Bama . Martin Ferreira. Huerto Roma Verde. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Diana Bama . Martin Ferreira. Huerto Roma Verde. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As an emblem of the conflicting and harmonious forces at play, we cite the relatively recent mural painted by the Spanish Street Artist Escif on the wall of the Chihuahua housing complex on the Plaza of Three Cultures just north of the city center. Illustrating the privately funded public projects that Street Artists are doing now throughout cities, this one plumbs the unhealed wounds and still unanswered questions of a shocking event of political repression almost 50 years ago here in the plaza designed by Mario Pani.

Not only does the plaza physically join together a Spanish colonial church and the remains of a pre-Columbian Aztec temple with the 13 story housing complex, the square is most known today for the October 1968 suppression of a student movement where troops ran directly over the ruins and fired on a peaceful rally and secret police captured and tortured student leaders who were speaking from the balcony. Protest art and public installations about the 2014 Iguala mass kidnapping of 43 disappeared students recall the stories from 1968 today, and many make connections between the events.

Unidentified Artist. Installation in El Centro Historico for the 43 Desaparecidos. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Some academics have said the crushing of the student movement was part of a secret “dirty war” by the government to quiet dissent and present a unified Mexico image to the world ahead of the upcoming Olympics, but Shimizu tells us that visiting politicians to Escif’s new wall are pleased with the mural and made a tour by bus with guests to admire it. A monument to the Tlatelolco massacre stands in the plaza memorializing the events, and Escif made a few statements about his interpretation of his mural.

“As in my previous works, there is not a limited meaning in the ‘Chihuahua Mural’, but as many meanings as people try to approach it with,” said Escif to us recently about the two suited figures. He discusses his research into the events that took place, but ultimately he leaves the painting more open to interpretation. “Those two guys painted on the wall can be secretive executives, military officers, corporate people or anybody. That will depend on who sees the wall and his previous experiences.”

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For visitors to Mexico City looking for the local Street Art or graffiti scene it is helpful to recognize that this moment for a near-global fascination for art in the streets is here also intertwined with a national and local history, cultural pride, and the treasured heritage of indigenous peoples.

While so-called “western” countries may see a rebellious disaffected rage or critique as an overarching narrative for the graffiti and Street Art scene in New York, London, or Berlin, it may be that Mexico City, and Latin America by extension, is also very cognizant of its roots, in love with them even, always infusing new work with a certain respect for their progenitors. For an art practice that is characterized in part for its ephemerality the context of this particular urban environment reminds you of its often remarkable resilience.

Dueke . Miss1 Guette for MUJAM. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

RETNA. The Beauty Project, 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot. Detial. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

SINKO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Kill Joy . Mazatl. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fusca .  Blast. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erica Ilcane. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


This is the first of two articles with BSA in Mexico City in collaboration with UN Berlin, it was originally published on the Urban Nation website, and the project is funded in part with the support of Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art (UN) in Berlin.

Read Part II here:

A Street View From Inside the Doors of Mexico City ; Galleries, Studios, Museums, and the Metro


Additional coverage by BSA in Mexico City:

An Unlikely Museum for Street Art? MUJAM is in the MX MIX : BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 1

Saner, Mexican Muralist and Painter, Studio Visit. BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 2

Panteón and Watchavato “No Esto No Es Lo Que Fue” Opens In Mexico City

Exploring New Techniques and Processes with Elian, Jaz and Ever in Mexico City

BSA Images Of The Week: 11.26.17 Mexico City Special


This article is also published on the Urban Nation museum website:

 

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Happy New Year 2015 – BSA Readers Choice Top 10

Happy New Year 2015 – BSA Readers Choice Top 10

Happy New Year to All! Thank you for inspiring us to do our best and to those of you who continue to support our personal art project / cultural examination, we extend our gratitude more than ever.

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Begun as an enthusiastic discovery of what was happening in a few neighborhoods in New York, we continued to expand our view into more cities around the world last year and into the history and future of the scene. We also aimed to provide you with a critical platform for examination of the street art/ graffiti / public art/ contemporary art continuum with interviews with artists, curators, collectors, organizers, observers and thinkers in the street, studio, gallery, and museum – trouble makers and taste makers alike.

In the end, it’s your observations and the conversations on the street that are most important. As we begin the year with over 300K fans, friends, and followers on social media platforms and 225 articles on the Huffington Post (thanks HuffPost team!), we feel like we get a valuable good survey of current opinions heading our way daily.

With in-depth interviews, investigative articles, opinion infused examinations, plain celebratory reverie, occasionally silly non-sequitors, and public appearances where we get to meet you, we get a good analytical look at an ever-evolving movement, glittery polish and warts and all.

As the new year begins we take a look back at the top stories chosen by BSA Readers in the last 12 months. Among them are two takeover pop-up shows in soon-to-be demolished buildings, a story about commercial abuse of artist copyrights and the effort to fight back, a street art community’s response to the sudden death of an activist street artist, a Street Art tourist trip, and a few inspirational women, men, and Mexican muralists.  Even though we published at least once a day for the last 365 days, these are the most popular pieces, as chosen by you, Dear BSA Reader.

10. Exploring Lisbon as a Street Art Tourist

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Os Gemeos / Blu (photo © Stephen Kelley)

9. Kara Walker and Her Sugar Sphinx at the Old Domino Factory

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Kara Walker. The artist portrait in profile with her sugary sphinx in the background. (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

8. Women Rock Wynwood Walls at Miami Art Basel 2013

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Fafi (photo © Martha Cooper for Wynwood Walls)

7. A Sudden Secret Street Art House Party in Manhattan

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Icy & Sot (photo © Jaime Rojo)

6. Niels Shoe Meulman Balancing “Unearthly” Paintings

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Niels “Shoe” Meulman. Process shot. (photo © Adele Renault)

5. It’s All the Rage, Street Artists Filing Lawsuits Left and Right

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4. Shok-1 Street Art X-Rays Reveal a Unique Hand at the Can

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Shok-1 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

3. 12 Mexican Street Artists Stray Far from Muralism Tradition In NYC

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Sego (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2. Army Of One, Inspiration To Many : Jef Campion

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Army Of One AKA JC2 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

1. Graffiti and Street Art Lock Up “21st Precinct” in New York

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Pixote in action. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
 
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12 Mexican Street Artists Stray Far from Muralism Tradition In NYC

12 Mexican Street Artists Stray Far from Muralism Tradition In NYC

Name Checking Rivera, Following Fairey

A new show of gallery work by Mexican street artists currently running in Manhattan’s Lower East Side questions the assumption that the nationalistic, social and political messages championed by that country’s famed muralism movement retain the impact and relevancy to artists a hundred years after the revolution.

To hear the story told by some, you may think that this is a generation following in the footsteps of the great syndicate of technical workers, painters, and sculptors who were funded by government programs in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s to promote a vast array of social and educational messages to a newly federalized citizenry. However people born in the last decades of that century comprise a much wider spectrum of individualists and self directed visual authors who are redefining narratives on streets in cities and their position as inheritors of that lineage may not have as much relevance to them as you thought.

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Sego (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“12 Mexican Street Artists” features a few of the names you recognize from that scene and leaves perhaps a couple of them out, but the scope is a sufficient sampling to give you an idea of the current moment of art on the streets. Included in the show are Saner, Bebo, Dhear, Fusca, Meca, Meiz, MilAmores, Minoz, Sego, Seher, Smithe and Undo. Photographer Christophe von Hohenberg, who organized the gallery show, draws your attention with portraits of this loosely connected group and there are a variety of works on paper by these  street artists, graffiti artists, muralists, and public artists who come from a multiplicity of backgrounds and disciplines.

While some in the group refer to themselves as “La Linea” and they may honor the  heritage associated with their countrymen Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueros, these world citizens are equally eager to differentiate themselves from those great muralists of the previous century.  Walking along the collection of mostly small works you’ll see folk influences here, sure, and so are traditional and sociological consideration. But don’t forget the surreal, the pop, the modernist.

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Sego in Brooklyn (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Never mind borders – we now are becoming accustomed to the staccato race across a boundary free digital fountain of inspiration. Seen through a Mexican filter, these are the same Internet fueled romances currently exploding on the Street Art scene globally; illustration, graphic design, cartoon, tattoo, skater culture, painting, stencil, the conceptual, even the sculptural.

Suffice to say this show of 12 Mexican muralists is an important inclusion in the story telling as the global street art explosion is re-defining how we look at public aesthetic discourse and public art making. A clear break has been made from the heralded lineage of Mexican muralism and this small show may be the first concentrated collection that demonstrates how far the new kids are wandering.

Speaking to a handful of them last week while they hit up walls in Manhattan and Brooklyn, we learned that these artists are as influenced by Fairey as they are Tamayo.

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Sego’s first trip to New York. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mexico City’s Sego began transferring his illustrations of animals and insects from his notebook to the street about 10 years ago when hanging with graffiti-writers on the street. A designer who has worked with corporate brands, he says the symbiosis of the natural and the man-made world is something he wants to engender with his creatures whether he is in a moneyed neighborhood or a poor and dangerous one.

If you ask him about his connection to the famed Mexican mural tradition, he honors it and then emphatically distances the work of his generation from it. “I was very inspired by them but not influenced by them. I respect their work and we have to learn from their monumental production but we have to be conscious of the fact that we live now in a different time and we have to really propose new things for today’s realities,” he says.

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Sego (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“The irony is that those murals were often created in governmental buildings that the poor and indigenous people didn’t have access to. So in terms of how strong the connections are between the people and the art when comparing what they did and what we do today, I feel like our connections are much stronger,” he explains as he talks about the Street Art that goes into any neighborhood and usually on its own volition.

One last thing – “Those muralists had the government behind them and the financial support so they could have as many assistants as they needed. The merits of what we do also rests on the fact that it is mainly D.I.Y. and has more of an independent spirit since we have to self-finance our work.”

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Sego (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mexico Citys’ UNDO, who considers all his work to be an attempt to reverse deleterious political realities, and Tijuana based Bebo, a philosophy and fine art major who discovered modern street art when he was a student at university, both have distinctly different approaches to their work and to how they label it.

Undo: It’s different for everybody. There are some who don’t feel comfortable with the term “muralist”, you know?
Bebo: And some people who don’t feel comfortable with the word “graffiti” or “street art”, but we all do walls. Everybody paints walls and we love it.
Undo: That’s just the terminology.

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BEBO at Dorian Grey Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Yeah it is, but you know some people do care very much about how their work is described. Particularly because Mexico has this wonderful muralism tradition and it is something you can be very proud to be associated with, so I thought perhaps you would want to say you are muralists, who do not do graffiti.
Undo: It’s not the same for everybody. Some of them started directly as graffiti artists and then they went to murals.
Bebo: It’s the way you grow up. You develop a personality in what you do and how you do it.  If you painted graffiti first, you always say you are a graffiti artist.  They don’t necessarily make the connection with the muralists.

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BEBO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As UNDO describes a recent stencil piece that depicts the Mexican Presidents chair with bloody spikes for legs, he criticizes what he sees as a false appearance of democracy and the onerous burdens that are placed upon the everyday citizens. Now he is studying economics and technology and how our lives are being changed by the intersection of the two.

You may think that this is a rebel who is eager to vandalize, but his social conscience tells him just the opposite when it comes to illegal walls. “It is attractive to think about you know, because of the rush of the adrenaline but the idea of tagging – I like that others do that but I don’t feel comfortable to trespass on other people’s walls,” he explains. Right now he’s trying to lighten his themes with a little hope, so he has cut and sprayed a stencilled dove.

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BEBO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“One day Acamonchi came to visit us and also Shepard Fairey came to our school and I said, ‘Okay, this is very easy for me’, ” says Bebo about how he first began making stencils and wheatpastes and putting them out on the street.

Bebo: You have to make a language and that is the interesting part so when I put something in the street I can say “Ah, that’s mine”.
Brooklyn Street Art: Right, it has to have your signature… and what is your typical subject matter?
Bebo: Foxes. I do all kinds of foxes. It’s a visual thing. I began to use canines like foxes and wolves in my work because I feel like they are designed perfectly in nature. Their symmetry is perfect, like the triangle that is formed with their eyes and their snout.

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BEBO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bebo: When I began researching foxes and wolves I moved beyond the purely graphic concept and I found the foxes to be even more attractive. They have the capacity to be in the here and the now, and it is very impressive. For example if the fox stops to smell a flower, he lingers and inhales it and relishes it. If he lies down to have a nap in the sun he really enjoys sunbathing. They do what they need to do at the time that they need to do it.

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BEBO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UNDO says Fairey also influenced him.

Undo: Yeah I definitely have to say that I was inspired by OBEY because I didn’t know how to do it and I saw it and I said, “oh I’m going to try to do it”

Did he also see the well known Fairey speaking at a public forum?

“No I saw him on the web,” he says.

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UNDO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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UNDO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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UNDO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mil Amores at Dorian Grey Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Fusca collab with Kazy (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Fusca at Dorian Grey Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Smithe at Dorian Grey Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Meiz at Dorian Grey Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dhear, York CHK at Dorian Grey Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dorian Grey Gallery (photo © Jaime Rojo)

12 Mexican Street Artists is currently on view at the Dorian Grey Gallery. Click HERE for more details.

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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