Specimens Captured During 2016
Year retrospective on Behance

Specimens Captured During 2016

 
Click on the image above, ladies and gentlemen, and see for yourselves all the mutant artists I had the pleasure of capturing during the year 2016 in chronological order. Be amazed by these fabulous masters of low-brow art, sculpture, street art, graffiti, illustration, painting, muralism, pop surrealism & vandalism; who have voluntarily subjected themselves to my digital surgery experiments to be fused with their creations using highly advanced digital techniques. I will continue searching for new creative specimens to capture this year in order to continue with my peculiar experiment.

 

 

Symbiosis on Unframed Photo!
Fine art photography with fine artistic photographers

Symbiosis on Unframed Photo

 
My mutant artists portraits are now available to enjoy (and purchase) on Unframed Photo, a fine art photography website created by the fine photographer and architecture warper Victor Enrich, curated by the artists themselves, and with a 0% commission on sales. It's actually the first online photography site that gives 100% of their benefits to the photographers, without intermediaries.

I'm delighted to have my digitally-modified portraits displayed in such nice company and would like to express my most sincere gratitude to the Autocad master Victor Enrich for all the hard-work and effort he has made to give birth to this non-profit project for fine art photographers.

 

 

Symbiosis on Street Art Barcelona
Nice little article with some personal stories about my portraits

Symbiosis Article on Street Art Barcelona

 
The people from Street Art Barcelona asked me to write some stories about my portraits to be featured on their site, so I selected a few photos with interesting stories to explain some anecdotes and details about them, about the way we made them, and about the artists who are portrayed. You can click on the image above to read the article, for those of you who don't speak Spanish, here's the English version:

Symbiosis started as a way of censoring graffiti writers and street artists worried about staying anonymous in pictures taken while they were committing acts of vandalism and other pseudo-artistic misdemeanours. But, after some time, I realised that it is also a great way of showing a more personal side of artists whose work can be seen around many places, but who stay behind the scenes, in some cases near anonymity. Street artists who decorate the streets without permission, graphic designers who create designs for brands without being credited in the final campaign, illustrators who work for newspapers, tattoo artists... It's easy to find their work on the streets, on billboards, on newspapers, on magazines, or on the skin of some people; but it’s not so easy to find information about the artist behind it. In many cases, the only thing we actually know about these artists is their work.

Now I want to talk about a more personal side of these people, by sharing some of the stories behind my pictures. Anecdotes and details that tell us a bit more about the artists I’ve portrayed.

Turkesa
Turkesa - Inkdelibe Tattoo - Barcelona - 2013

When Turkesa told me she wanted to be portrayed tattooing, I thought it was a fantastic idea, but I told her we needed to find someone with a tattoo originally made by her. It wasn’t a good idea to take the picture faking she was making a tattoo really made by someone else; it wouldn't be respectful for the tattoo artist who made it. She totally agreed on this. Luckily, in the studio where she was working by that time, Inkdelible, there was another tattooist called Fran who had a rose made by her on his arm. He kindly agreed to be included in the picture, and he happened to be a truly expressive guy, I asked him to pretend he was in pain, and the face he pulled was fantastic. Actually, this is one of my favourite pictures of all times.

Mr Kern
Mr Kern - Streets of Barcelona - 2012

For Mr Kern’s portrait, we decided to take a walk around the hood to find a place he could tag to use it as the background for the picture. We found this glass on a narrow street around the Raval, and thought it was highly appropriate. Unfortunately, as soon as he started decorating the glass with his name, a pretty pissed off guy came up telling us it was the window of his studio. I told him Mr Kern was an artist who had travelled from France to show his work in a gallery in Barcelona, and that he was writing his name on the glass to use it as the background for a picture we were going to take. I also politely suggested that we could clean up the glass when we were finished taking pictures if he gave us a wet cloth, because the marker he was using was water-based, so it could be easily cleaned. He looked at me with a “do-you-think-I’m-going-to-believe-all-that-bullshit” face and then just walked away. He will probably never know that everything I told him was true…

Albert Bertolín
Albert Bertolín - Dirty Bar Toilet - Barcelona - 2011

I normally take my pictures at the artists’ studios or houses, but Albert was on holidays in Barcelona, he lived in Menorca when we took his photo. So I asked him where he would like to capture his portrait, he told me “In the dirtiest toilet we can find”. I just loved the idea, and we where at the old quarter, so it wasn’t especially hard to find a dirty bathroom. When they saw us both going into the toilet wearing my camera backpack and spend around half an hour inside there, they looked at us with a slightly weird face, but nobody asked anything. Anyway, if the waiter had asked and I had told him we were taking a picture for a project of artists’ portraits, he wouldn’t have believed a word of it.

Luckily, I had my marker with me, although we decided not to really paint the bathroom walls to avoid problems like the ones we had with Mr Kern. Albert held it as if he was painting and kindly sent me many illustrations a few days later so I could place them around the toilet using Photoshop. He had the fantastic idea of adding his mobile number, as if he was offering his services as an illustrator around filthy bar toilets as some kind of creative gigolo. Nowadays, many people have to sell themselves out to get some work accepting the requirements and rates offered by clients, which are getting lower and lower. Nobody has called offering some work yet, but the phone number is real, if you don’t believe me you can send a whatsapp to verify it.

Danjer
Danjer - La Dolce Vita Tattoo - Zarazoga - 2014

Sometimes, while preparing the setting for a picture, we spread all the artist tools, paraphernalia and little things around the room to create a nice atmosphere. Normally we place around some spray cans, comics, computers, dust masks, brushes, paint, markers, toys, ashtrays, drugs, and other miscellaneous items. For Danjer's portrait in his studio in Zaragoza, we decided to use a moribund-looking skull to replace his head, and we wanted it to look as if he had spent the whole night working; it was the perfect occasion to spread all his creative tools around the room. Every time I do this, I ask the artist if there is something special for him or her that should be included in the picture, normally they say yes and they take out one of their drawings or a toy they specially love. But Danjer did something no one had done before: he came up with an illustration made by someone else he had framed, he showed it to me and told me it was from a good old friend of him with whom he had opened the tattoo studio, and who had died some years ago. I found it very thoughtful to include this illustration amongst all the things, so that his friend could be there with him even though he wasn't there anymore. It was one of the most touching moments I lived while taking a picture, it’s nice to travel to Zaragoza to meet up with a tattoo artist you have never met before and suddenly discover, with just a little gesture, that he is a wonderful guy.

Maria Elena Stellato
Maria Elena Stellato - Artist house - Naples - 2014

Maria Elena Stellato is a feminist activist artist I met in Naples when I visited the city to show my portraits at L'Asilo, a self-managed artistic space found in the old quarter of the city. In fact, she hosted me at her house, a whole floor of an old building she shared with my good-old friend Giovanna and other girls. They spent most of their time in the shared kitchen drinking coffee, smoking, and conspiring to destroy patriarchy and capitalism. I decided to join them in various of these anti-patriarchal conspiracy sessions heightened by caffeine abuse; and carried away by the excitement of our debate, I suggested to make a portrait of Elena and fuse her with one of her African women sculptures to reclaim the relevance and importance of women in pre-Judeo-Christian cultures.

After some hours of discussion and coffee drinking, we reached the conclusion that when humans worshiped Earth as a goddess, which had all the feminine virtues, before monotheistic religions forced everyone to believe there is only one god and he is a man; people had a much more sustainable and environmentally respectful way of life, because they considered our planet as something sacred, as their home, and therefore they took care of it. The problem with the patriarchal system we live in is not only inequality between men and women, but also the lack of respect for all things related with femininity; not accepting or appreciating the relevance of femininity in its broadest sense, with its capacity to host and sustain life.

The most peculiar thing is that all pre-Judeo-Christian cultures worshiped the Earth as a goddess who represented femininity, and the Sun as a god with all the characteristics of masculinity. They considered our planet as mother Earth, although some of them called her Gea, and others Gaia o Terra; and the Sun as the father God, called Horus or Ra by different religions. Even though these cultures were very distant in time and space, thousands of miles or many centuries, they all adored the Earth and the Sun, and were aware of the fact that life couldn't exist without any of the two.

When monotheism arrived, the importance of God the Father, the Almighty, was exaggerated, while the relevance and role of the mother goddess was completely neglected, relegated to obscurity and set aside, becoming virtually invisible. Systems and beliefs based on superiority and lacking equality are not good and create an unhealthy way of life without respect which, in the long term, can be very dangerous. By considering Earth as a mere object containing resources to consume, acting with a superiority complex that makes us think that everything exists to be used and consumed by us, putting men in the center of the universe, we act in an egocentric way that is not only dangerous for our planet, but also for our own survival. Because we are destroying our habitat and consuming the resources we need to survive. We have forgotten our own fragility and our complete interdependence with our environment. We consider ourselves superior to the rest of living organisms, but we are totally dependent on all of them. If we continue going down the way of brainless consumption and resource overexploitation, we are going to end up becoming extinct as a result of our own actions, and that would be something incredibly stupid to do for an animal who considers himself the most intelligent in existence.

For all these reasons, this is a portrait I feel especially proud of, because it reclaims the importance of femininity in the broadest sense of the term, to avoid forgetting its relevance and its fundamental role in life conservation.

 

 

Specimens Captured During 2015
Year retrospective on Behance

Specimens Captured During 2015

 
Step right up, click on the image above, ladies and gentlemen, and see for yourselves all the mutant artists I had the pleasure of capturing during the year 2015 in chronological order. Be amazed by these fabulous masters of graffiti, tattoo, street art, low brow, sculpture, illustration, muralism, vandalism, pop surrealism, drug addiction, and other artistic disciplines and forms of entertainment; who have voluntarily subjected themselves to my digital surgery experiments to become one with their creations. I will continue searching for new creative specimens to capture this year in my peculiar quest to document and portray the usual suspects of the fantastic world of contemporary art.

 

 

SUP3RST1TIONS
Group show at AktivitÄt bcn with my portrait of Victor Castillo
SUP3RST1TIONS Flyer

 

The people form AktivitÄt bcn asked me to curate the first ever group show in the gallery. I accepted this quest and selected 13 artists from the low-brow and street art world to make a collective exhibition about superstitions, opening on Friday the 13th of November at 20:13. A few days before the opening, one of the artists told me she couldn't make it, so I had to find a replacement urgently. As there wasn't much time to create a piece about superstitions from scratch, it wasn't an easy task to find someone, but I finally came up wiht a fantastically keen solution: to curate myself! I just had to select one artist portrait with some superstitious theme or scary atmosphere, and I found the perfect solution, my portrait of Victor Castillo casting a ghoslly shadow with his hand.

Some people mistakenly think I started curating shows because I knew many artists I had met while taking portrait pictures for my peculiar experiments; and, as a consequence, some gallery owners asked me for help. But this theory is totally untrue, the real reason why I started curating exhibitions is to include my own work. After some time and a few negative responses from art spaces, I realised the only way of getting curated is to curate yourslef, I trully believe in the DIY way of life. Some people told me I should use a pseudonym when curating my own work because a professional curator shouldn't curate himself. But I already use a pseudonym for my work, I don't really care so much about looking professional, and I think rules are made to break them (probably these bad habits come from my past in the world of graffiti), vandalism stays inside you forever once you fall in love with it. I also don't enjoy lying, so I daringly curated myself without any kind of consideration or name changing. And I must say everything went pretty well taking into account we were playing with superstitions and breaking rules, below you can see some images of the opening as a proof.

 

Esa Extraña Compañía
"That Strange Company" (series of paintings about death by Juanjo Surace)
 
Youth
Youth Admiring Juanjo's Work
 
Ilia Mayer
Checking the Prints
Detail of Ilia Mayer's Watercolor
Checking the Prints
 
Contemplating Mono's Sculpture
Contemplating Mono's Sculpture
 
Emilio Cerezo & the Tattoo Crew
Emilio Cerezo & The Tattoo Crew
 
Joaquín Jara & Fans
Joaquín Jara & Fans
 
Adriana Maluquer with her Beautiful Piece
With my Portrait of Victor Castillo
Adriana Maluquer with her Piece "Embuste"
Me with my portrait of Victor Castillo
 
Thierry & Me
Experienced Collector Telling Me Nice Things About my Work
 
Talking About Hombrelópez
Girls Talking about the work of Hombrelópez
 
Outsiders
Outsiders

 

Inner Landscapes II
Group Show at Guzzo Club with my portrait of Peca

After the Symbiosis solo show at Guzzo, I was invited by the people of Subagora again to take part in a collective exhibition called Inner Landscapes II (man, I love these guys :) They organize an Inner Landscapes group show every year with different artists, this was the second one.

Each artist was asked to bring only one piece, I chose Peca's portrait because I love her picture on the terrace with all her plants and toys, and because she was one of the other artists taking part in the show. It also matched the Inner Landscapes theme, it shows a vegetable landscape containing the inner world of the artist. Peca has a lot of inner world in her works, you can see the whole universe in her paintings :)

The opening party was great, and something fantastic happened. We were having some drinks together and chilling as usual when someone we didn't expect arrived. I turned around and Martha Cooper was there! She had been invited to Barcelona to give a lecture at the Open Walls festival with Terror161 and they decided to come see the show. I had already met Martha at Bloop Festival in Ibiza some years ago, when we took this picture, but having her at this event was an honour for me.

When we were kids and the Hip Hop movement was just starting in Spain, her books (and also Herny Chalfant's books) were like the bible for us. We looked at all those pictures of amazing pieces by Seen, Lee, Dondi, and many others filled with awe and joy, they were living legends for us. And thanks to the work of people like Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, and Keith Bough, graffiti started spreading all over the world. Many people are not really aware of the big influence these photographers had in spreading the Hip Hop culture around the globe through their books. That's why it was so great for me having someone like Martha coming to our show.

Inner Landscapes FlyerInner Landscapes Flyer

If someone had told me when I was 15 that Martha Cooper was going to come to an exhibition with my work, I wouldn't believe it. But life can give you great surprises. We ended up tagging the DJ booth after having too much booze, old-school style. Thanks everyone for coming and special thanks to Adrien H Tillman for these beautiful pictures of the pieces and the opening party.
Peca & Cinta Vidal
Btoy
Peca & Cinta Vidal
Daniel Torrent
Daniel Torrent
 
Inocuo
 
Joan Tarragó
Joan Tarragó
 
Joaquín Jara
 
Cinta Vidal
Cinta Vidal
 
Peca's Portrait
Peca's Portrait
 
Croud
Croud
 
With Btoy & Joan Tarragó
With Btoy & Joan Tarragó
 
With Martha Cooper, Olivia & Txemy
 
H101 in Action
Martha in Action
H101 in Action
Martha in Action
Terror161 in Action
Terror161 in Action
 
Now Just Keep On Drinking
Now Just Keep On Drinking

 

M.I.A.U. featured on Spanish TV!

 
Here's a little video about the MIAU Fanzara festival including a mini-interview about the Symbiosis exhibition that was featured on a cultural program in the Spanish public television (La 2). Only in Spanish, no subtitles, sorry. But even if you don't understand the interviews you can watch the beautiful murals. :)

 

 

Symbiosis at M.I.A.U.
Exhibition at M.I.AU. Fanzara containing only portraits of artists taking part in the event

MIAU Fanzara is a very special street art festival, it's organised in a very small village called Fanzara near Valencia by a brave group of locals with the help of some great people like Pincho and Hombrelópez, and it has a beautiful story behind it:

Everything started some years ago, when the conservative government in power started planning to build a dumping site for hazardous waste in the village. A group of villagers came together to fight against the project, and created an organisation to start demonstrating against the dumping site construction. After some time, they realised the only way of stopping it was to win the town council, basically because the right-wing government in power couldn't care less about their demonstrations and efforts, they only cared about the percentage they were going to get from the dumping site construction. So this small group of brave locals, who had never been especially interested in politics before, decided to create a political party and run for elections with the hope of being elected to be able to stop the garbage dump... and they did it!

After stopping the dumping site construction, they decided they could do something else while in power; one of them was very interested in street art and muralism, and his sister had studied art with a very nice guy known as Pincho, who they knew had participated in some street art festivals before. So they contacted him to paint a little mural in town, he was excited with the idea and started calling some friends to join him. Finally, after some months of preparations and hard work, they organised the first MIAU Fanzara street art festival, which was a total success.

DeihDeih

Some of the more conservative town residents were not extremely happy with the idea, but after sharing some days with the artists, they realised it wasn't such a bad thing, and they even established some nice relationships, offering them food and beer to endure the long painting sessions under the merciless Spanish sun.

From the moment they started conceiving the idea, it was really clear for them that they didn't want to organise an event in which a group of artist come to paint the village in a few days and then just leave. They wanted to create some bonds between the artists and the villagers, and establish a dialog between them; that's why they organised graffiti workshops for the kids, stencil courses for the teenagers, concerts, and lectures.

After this positive initial experience, they decided to organise the second MIAU festival one year later. Besides the murals and workshops, they also wanted to organise some art and photography exhibitions around town. I was called by Hombrelópez to organise a Symbiosis show in town including only portraits of artists who had participated in the event, and to give a little lecture to explain my experiments to the villagers (and anybody else who wanted to come). There was no money to print or send the pictures, and I had to travel by train with them and all the necessary stuff to set up the show. All they had to offer was the train ticket, a place to stay in town, some food while I was there, and a lot of love. Of course my answer was "hell yes!", who needs money when you can get some love? So I dismounted all the pictures, put the frames in a big suitcase, rolled all the canvases in a big roll and started the Fanzara adventure. I travelled with Joaquín, Kenor, and H101 to the Castellón train station where they picked us up with a van to take us to Fanzara. We set up the show with the invaluable help of Hombrelópez in the old doctor's office of the village, a very appropriate place to showcase the results of my digital-surgery experiments, and we decided to leave a stretcher in each room so the visitors could sit to admire the mutant artists portraits like in a real museum!

As I mentioned before, the show included only pictures of artists who had painted murals in town, including a brand-new portrait of the cosmic artist Deih, highly appreciated amongst the villagers, which I had deliberately kept secret until then, not even the artist had seen it before. The show opening was fantastic, Deih was extremely happy with his portrait floating around the streets of Valencia, the town residents treated us like family, and the organisers did all they could to make everyone happy.

This kind of event proves that when a group of brave people come together they can actually change the course of events in their town, and transform a small village with a dumping site project into a beautiful town full of colour and nice people, so never surrender and always follow your dreams, it is worth it, probably more than anything else.

Mounting Frames
Hanging Pincho's Portrait
Mounting Frames
Hanging Pincho's Portrait
Tools
Tools
 
Hombrelópez Making Holes
Hombrelópez Making Holes
 
All Set
All Set
 
BTOY, Pincho & Pol Marbán
 
Emilio Cerezo, H101 & Escif
 
Lolofónico, Kenor & Joaquín Jara
 
Sabek
 
Deih Detail
Deih Detail
 
Vinyl
Vinyl
 
First Visitor
First Visitor
 
Nebbia & Ethan
Nebbia & Ethan Enjoying the Exhibition
 
Watching Pincho
Watching Pincho
 
It's Time to Go Honey
It's Time to Go Honey
 
Dr Case Royal Rotor Andrea Michaelsson Olivia Boris Hoppek Andrea Luschi Escif Suso33 Marga López Inocuo Noaz Mr Kern Next