UPEA Art Festival 2018 – Finland. Dispatch 1 – Sainer

BSA is in Finland this week to see firsthand the work of UPEART, an expansive mural art festival in its third iteration. Unique for its geographical breadth as well as it’s curatorial depth, UPEART has quietly revealed its amazing strengths without being self-aggrandizing or showy, slowly transforming cities and towns across the entire country with consultation of the locals and an eye toward the incredible international. Come with us this week as we traverse the country with you.

On a wall facing one of Helsinki’s traditional wood house style buildings in ochre you find a woman in shadow – soaring multiple stories above the street. She has significance surely, but Street Artist Sainer is allowing you to tell this story.

Here at UPEART 2018, the Polish artist is playing more with forms and shape and color than the typical centerpiece of portrait; the subject. He also likes the wood building that obscures the figure for many blocks before you are upon the new woman of mystery.

Sainer. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“I really like the idea that when you’re driving on this road the tower of this whole building covers the face so at some point you can only see the flat color of the painting in the background.” One half of the Etam Cru with Bezt, Sainer says that he is exploring less figurative aspects of painting these days on his own, despite the fact that during the last half-dozen years the duo made their name on the street with some of the most imaginative characters and scenarios suddenly sparking conversations in cities across the world .

While the late summer sun keeps him warm in the cherry picker basket above the street, the thirty year old blends the patches and plains of the sitters’ environs with a roller and paint. Sometimes he revises the color choice or timber, always absorbing the geometry and palette of his immediate environment. He lowers himself and steps out of the basket onto the driveway pavement to look at the deep green grapevines with plump blue fruits hanging on the chain-link  fence and squints up at the evolving mural against the saturated blue sky.

“I think my work is changing recently,” he says. “I have liked to do plainer paintings – like small landscapes . I’m not really into the characters that much in the same way that I was. When I do paint characters they are in the shadow. I like the idea of making portraits where the portrait is not the most important part of the painting.”

BSA: That’s so anti-intuitive – because normally that would be the center focal point, right?

Sainer: Yes – even here the portrait is central but I am trying to play all around it just to hide it. It’s just one of the ideas that I am trying to work with these days.

Sainer. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Etam Cru guys met in design school in Lodz as students even while working on class projects they quickly became known for their work on the Street Art seen at home and in many cities around the globe, their studio work garnering attention from gallerists and collectors as well. With many requests to paint large walls and with personal and family commitments to coordinate with, the professional duo found it was actually getting sort of hard to work together so they have loosened the arrangement for the immediate term, while their friendship and working relationship is as strong as ever.

“I’m trying to make life simpler these days – trying to focus more on the studio a lot more.”

And for larger commitments like this wall, he says that he values the project development when there is a feeling of spontaneity and discovery.

“I don’t prepare a final sketch for the wall. For me it’s always a sort of process. I am searching for the right ideas,” he says. “Sometimes when you have a small sketch you can put it on the wall but it doesn’t work – the sizes, shapes, colors, the elements. Anyway, if you have a final sketch before you start what’s the point of painting it? There’s no surprise, you are just repeating yourself.”

That said, since he isn’t leaving town till tomorrow, we’ll have to wait for the surprise of the finished wall. Meanwhile, we’ll take special note of the background, and keep looking into the eyes of the mystery woman in the middle.

Sainer. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)