GNV: Elian, tell me… How did you like the wall? What were your ideas? Maybe you were thinking about something else initially…?
Elian: My wall was divided into 5 panels, so I worked with the idea of progression or the idea of fading out because my wall is on the hospice; so I tried to relate and symbolize the disappearance of life with the same progression of each artwork- more and more white- until the end, with the tree. Also I like the idea of the space, a lot of people walk there and pass by on bike, so it has some idea of the movement and the progression, again. It’s hard to work on this kind of place, the hospice is not a bakery or paint shop its some special space it’s not easy to come up with ideas there. I tried to be super respectful with that space. Also the sign is super organic, everything was made by hand … The geometric shapes are organically made and they are not perfect which gives more reference to life.
GNV: It looks cool… how did you interact with people? What did people say while you were working?
Elian: Ah the people, everybody understood the idea of progression so it’s amazing. Also, the space is super quiet and natural. The people are so grateful that it’s there because it changes everything. Before I arrived that space had a super massive grey wall and now it has a lot of color.
GNV: Yeah even just a few months ago this wall was grey and had graffiti and covered with mold and plants… but now it’s like a park and people are going to be travelling through there.
Elian: I’m so happy to be here because I think it’s good to have all different kinds of experience with art … working in major cities is not always good, you know? You need to have experience in small towns… When you work always in, Paris, Tokyo, New York, London… its always the same experience you know? When you work in a place like Gainesville…It’s nice because the people here have never seen something like that; so it’s more interesting for them and they are more curious.
GNV: Franco, tell please about your work and the new “collage-based” style.
Jaz: In the past few years, I have changed a lot with the subjects of my work … for many years, I used to work with the same subject: trying to work the environment and confrontations and different cultural clashes. Since a couple of months ago, my mind changed a lot in the way that I want to work with my own image and I’m more concentrated now on the relation between private and public work. So in this case, I work with the same image that I worked with a year ago in other cities but it’s an image about an image of one personal process in this movement; and I replicate it in a different way. I like that exercise of using private work in a public space. I think it’s like the first step for me in trying to use these kind of different subjects, I’ve tried to use those concepts on smaller walls and I’ve enjoyed it so I continue to experiment with this. Talking about personal moments in terms of this movement, the idea of the final image doesn’t compare with the old works that I used to do, where its more about the context and the surrounding area. For many years I was talking and working about that experience and now I’m in a totally different process also in the way of work its totally different to the work I used to do back in the days where I was totally expressive and very fast and totally spontaneous. Now it’s totally different in the way of work, now I measure the wall and I already have the image in the beginning, it’s a very slow process. Totally different. It’s just the first steps, for this process, I started to work with this kind of image less than a year ago. So it’s about that, but still when you look at my new work you can still see my own imagery.
GNV: …and then you will do a collage later?
Jaz: Yes, the next step is to transform that image from the wall, again in a collage and after that make another wall so it’s the construction of the same image that has the relation between the public and the private and in that relation it’s how the image has changed with time. Trying to find a new image in my own works, is a kind of circle of a construction of the same image, I’m looking for an abstract language through the process of inside/outside in the long term. It’s just one part of the chain, this wall. It’s kind of a simple image to understand, it’s not a specific image that tells something it’s just a fragment of a mural and using that image I’m just trying to find a way of working, a chain of process…but it’s just one step we need to see the whole process to get the whole idea.
GNV: Okay gotcha… what do you think about Gainesville?
Jaz: I like the city, as a Latin American, I think the city is super, super quiet and chill. So, it gives me another kind of a sense of how the cities are in the U.S. …I’ve already been to American cities so I know that this is normal for this kind of city, but as a Latin American, it’s a kind of cultural shock in terms of cities. Everything is different in the way of enjoyment and entertainment, but I like it, it’s quiet, its chill, it’s a small. The people are super open to the things that we are doing, so it’s a good field to try these kinds of works because it has more impact than in bigger, crazier cities like mine, or big cities as Elian told. I think doing this kind of work in small places are more interesting than in very crowded or cosmopolitan cities because the impact is bigger and you can get a better reaction from the local people which is what we are really interested in.
GNV: It’s not like Wynwood…
Jaz: Nah, Wynwood is a very specific other thing that turned into that because of all the things not just because of the artists…here you can tell that the people are enjoying and embracing these kind of initiatives. You can get a better chat with the reality of the place, so its important part of the all the work that we do. Working outside, getting in touch with the people, I really enjoyed it, everybody was super nice…super welcoming…
Also I like when the people are totally not nice or they are super direct and say that they don’t like your work because it’s about the relationship, also, in the public space.
GNV: You met those kind of people here?
Jaz: No, not here. This is the opposite. It doesn’t happen to much but when it does it’s very interesting and I really like it because it’s not that common it’s interesting to have those kind of reactions and to listen to the people and try to understand this different point of view.
Have you tried to change something because of those responses? Do you think, “Maybe I’m doing something wrong?”
Jaz: No, I never think I’m doing something wrong, haha.
GNV: So you just don’t care what anyone thinks?
Jaz: It’s a kind of selfish feeling of being a public artist, but I really don’t care what the people think of my work, if they cover it or they want to keep the work and take care of it for the rest of the life then I’m totally okay with that because once I finish, even when I’m painting, that work is for the people so they could do with it whatever they want. I’m not doing it in terms of making the city better or to be nice with neighbors…I’m using the public space in a totally selfish way I like the public space because I like painting surrounded by people I’m using the public space with the weather against me and many different things … it’s a totally personal way of work in my case. I’m not doing it for the community at all, never… never anywhere. If the people want to embrace it and use it as something for the community, I’m totally okay with that. If they want to cover it or destroy the wall, I’m totally okay with that too, I’m just – this is not the case but many times I used to work with very ephemeral materials with the idea of ephemeral muralism. Where the mural just passed away very soon and I liked that process also, because the final image for us (muralists) remains in a digital way. We travel the world doing these things because the world became our studio.
Elian: Also, each city has its own dynamic so maybe if you have an artwork there for a long time, maybe it doesn’t work anymore… maybe the city needs to adapt every day. I think it’s good for the murals to be ephemeral.
Jaz: These are the specific kind of murals that we are used to working with with right now and this is how society is working right now where everything is super-fast and ephemeral; it adapts perfectly to the situation that we are living in as a society. It’s a fast image, fast knowledge about what we are doing, and a fast life for those murals. In Gainesville, it seems like they will remain longer than in other cities–
Elian: because this is the beginning, for Gainesville, you know, like the things I said about the natural process, its more for the big cities…
Jaz: Yeah! Even in Buenos Aires where I grew up and learned how to make murals, you know that you are doing those murals and you put in a lot that energy and everything is just for nothing because you know that work will remain as nothing; because either the graffiti writers or the politicians are just going erase it. So you work that theme in your mind…when you switch, for example when we make murals for an institution or something, I switch the way I work and I work specifically for that place but in the public space you work for the public space and my work remains for the people and the people decide whatever they want with that and I like also that process of destruction of my own work…I have some examples from Buenos Aires where my walls get demolished or somebody just adds more advertising on it or it just fades away…
GNV: Like in Wynwood, they added some windows on your wall but your work is still there…
Jaz: Yeah, they added some windows. I like that process, It’s part of the city.
GNV: It’s kind of like your mural has its own life?
Jaz: Yeah! I’m not angry at all when my mural passes away. I have it in the digital medium which, for me, the final work is the digital medium of this and then it can just pass way. That way, it’s a kind of selfish way of work, because maybe some people say it’s for the community, etc. but in the end its totally mine … it’s because they want to watch it in the public space and they like the exposure…but the final product is digital. For me it’s totally the process and the idea. The final image…somebody could erase it tomorrow, once I take the picture…and it would be cool with me. I even have murals that just remain for a few hours and I still got the image, and that photo creates the whole replication that I need. It’s a totally selfish way of work, even if it’s in a public space and you have contact with the community and everything, especially right now that it’s become more mainstream, its more about the advertising than the social fact of the mural right now. You have just a few muralists that keep working in a social way of the muralism movement. The time when a mural was used as a social communication tool was in the 1930’s when, for example, because of the social situation it was the best environment for the Mexican Muralists to use murals as a way to communicate. Right now, with the advertising and the internet it’s just so fast, new images are always appearing…
GNV: How do you explain the term: neomuralism? Every artist explains it differently, what does it mean for you?
Jaz: For me, it’s like a new kind of muralism and adaption of the situation that we are living in right now this ephemeral and super saturated images everywhere. The street art term is not the same as it used to be ten years ago.
GNV: Many artists do not like this term…
Jaz: I don’t like this term, because I feel that I have not been doing street art for a very long term, actually, I don’t think I ever did street art because I never worked illegally. My process is different; I consider myself as a painter or as an artist that does a lot of murals. As muralists, we are all trying to figure out how to name what is happening right now…what are all of these kind of different murals… Neomuralism could be one or contemporary muralism…
Elian: I can’t hear any more about that concept! Contemporary muralism: Bleghh! That’s cute, no? Come on!?