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Brooklyn Street Art

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Colombia Diary: The Completed Works, The Gold Rush, and the Jaguar in You

Posted on May 24, 2018

Today a wrap up of BSA at an unusual location in Colombia to see a new initiative with Street Artists in an abandoned distillery brought back to life with their imaginations and penchant for transformation.


“Uh, yellow, black, with some white… because it’s high up,” Ben Eine says as he sketches out the four letters, G-O-L-D on a small piece of paper. He’s codifying an idea to paint the letters across the four huge storage tanks where M-City has painted a metaphorical gold-mining scene upon over the last few days. The massive piece is timely and timeless; referencing to the current informal gold rush happening here in Colombia, once again altering the physical and political landscape.


M-City at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A rotating mist fan is slowly stirring the thick tropical air while we sit at the round wooden table in this industrial compound watching Ben with a pen as he shows M-City his idea for topping off the piece – in his own charming manner.

“Yellow, black outline, little shadow. Your shit goes like this, blah blah blah. And then white outline. Or maybe like super light blue outline so it bounces off the silver. Yeah-yeah,” says the English graffiti writer with some final certainty on his vision.

Ben Eine sketching the idea with M-City. May 2018. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

Ben Eine added GOLD to M-City ‘s piece at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

“Okay, perfect,” says the agreeable M-City, who quickly begins sourcing paint in a nearby pile of cardboard boxes. As a Street Artist who is curating this first phase of painting at this old Colombian distillery for Dictador Art Masters Foundation, he is helping others to hit their goals as much as he is directing his own creative work. Finally the collaboration is finished and it beams across the drying muddy field in the sun.

Ben Eine added GOLD to M-City ‘s piece at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

It’s this kind of collaborative camaraderie that often characterizes the Street Art scene across the world and one that sets this project apart from many “festivals”. For one thing, this project is private and small and away from the roaring crowd that can often accompany street works, and developing your idea as an artist can be done with minimal interruption.

The smaller artist roster also means that many of these creators have an opportunity to get to know one another better, to seek feedback, to formulate, to share perspectives. The old distillery setting itself is a highly unusual gallery environment that perpetuates the feeling of an extended studio.

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“We are completely amazed by all the stuff here on every level. All the objects, the whole factory,” says Jan, one half of the Polish duo Monstfur as he surveys a rounded tank that they are spraying layers of grey, black, and white to form a  stenciled cranium that also matches the one tattooed on his arm.

“Feeling the textures, seeing the patterns. Everything is so full of inspiration for us,” he beams. Placed in this laboratory of ideas, the guys seem right at home with their layers of decay and their Frankenstonian mythmaking – including their collective name that combines the English and Polish word for monster.

M-City at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you climb rusty ladders and duck under cobwebs or the occasional silently swooping bat, you see the possibilities for childlike ideation, opportunities to launch imaginary tales and adventures, directing energy and stirring alchemy.

Toxicomano takes the journey even further.

“Have you heard of Yage?” he asks, eager to share stories of a hallucinogenic plant that people who live in wooded, mountainous regions have used for years to transcend this reality. “It’s a strong beverage in the Amazonian,” he says. “When you drink it you are stoned.”

M-City at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fair enough, but how does that relate to the 4-story high yellow and black jaguar with nice hair that is staring at you like a feline Mona Lisa? You’ve seen him going up and down the cherry-picker carefully laying out and spraying the stencils here for days and this intense model has unveiled, then commanded, this brick wall.

“All persons have a jaguar that is inside,” he explains with a sincere stare into your eyes. You reflexively make a quick internal inventory of yourself to see if it is possible to confirm the veracity of that statement. Well, maaaaaayyyyyybeeeeeee, now that you mention it.

M-City at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“When you drink this yage you can begin to think differently about your place in the world, your people, your environment,” he says. “The jaguar is the tiger of South America. From Mexico to Argentina we have the same jaguar. I think they are really pretty. I think in this area it is possible to find jaguars as well,” he says, which seems to indicate an excellent opportunity to scan the adjacent field of tall grass.

What does this Colombian Street Artist’s jaguar want to do? “I think my jaguar wants to communicate to the others and tell people that everyone has a jaguar inside.”

M-City at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

M-City adds a NYC touch on a conduit at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

A great note to end this hot and sticky week in the farmlands and mountains of Northern Colombia. Mixed with the sun and the mud it has also seemed like a possibly mystical place that once housed the precise and time-honored industry of distilling. Now enlivened with the new works of English, Polish, and Colombian graffiti writers and Street Artists, it becomes an installation in an unusual location full of possibility – and we are curious to see where the next phase of this adventure leads.

Artists include: D*Face, Ben Eine, M-City, Monstfur, Toxicomano, Stinkfish, and Erre.

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Toxicomano at the old distillery Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano at the old distillery Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano at the old distillery Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano at the old distillery Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Stinkfish at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stinkfish at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stinkfish and Toxicomano at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stinkfish at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erre at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erre at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erre at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erre at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Filmmaker Collin Day at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Martha Cooper and Steven P. Harrington at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 


This event has been made possible by Dictador Art Masters Foundation. To learn more about the foundation click here.


Thank you to Martha Cooper for sharing her exclusive images with BSA readers.

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