We chatted with Manolo Mesa a young Andalusian artist born in Cadiz (Spain). His works have long inspired us and it is about time that this interview has been made! A passionate spiritual painter that sees walls as canvases, Nature lover and traveler. His contemporary creativity is driven by rituals and loves to make us all think!
(ISSA) -Introduce yourself to us with three words.
(MESA): Paint, resist and walk.
– Where does your tag name come from?
When I started studying at the University of Fine Arts in Seville in 2008, I felt the need to paint with the procedures I learned from classical drawing on the street. And I decided to leave my tag as a graffiti writer and sign with my surname “Mesa”, or “The Mesa” that seemed more ambiguous … My real name is Manuel, but all my relatives and friends call me Manolo, a very typical name for My region … In recent years many things have changed in graffiti and urban art, and since I feel like I’m not doing anything wrong, I decided to officially put my full name, Manolo Mesa.
-How do you define yourself? Artist? Street artist? Anything else?
I define myself a Painter. And seldom, in my spare time I am a graffiti writer hehe although I am not as brave as my friends.
– How did it all start for you, and what is it nowadays?
Well, when I started high school in 2001, my older brother painted in my city and introduced me to graffiti. Today it has become my hobby, my job, is the way how I spend my weekends and program my travels …
– What is Street Art for you? What impact did it have on your life?
The street art for me … all the independent artistic actionsin a public context. They are many experiences together that have shaped an attitude and a philosophy of life.
-Describe to us a bit about your creative process while creating a piece.
Nowadays I use all the photographic resources that I have… I use my photos, sometimes old photos, fragments of magazines, Internet, and then I work with Photoshop. I like to walk, explore the city and find a wall for an idea, or an idea for a wall. In the street, I try to work in the same way as the painting in the studio but bigger … Starting from an abstract spot on a canvas is the same as starting to paint on a pile of graffiti in Paris. I try to work with brushes, rollers, if I have hand sprays. I do a mixed technique on a wall full of history.
-Street art is mostly a visually stimulating form of art. To add one more sense to it, what music would you pick to accompany your art work?
– Well one of Miguel Benitez, “Half the fig tree”.
-In all forms of art, inspiration is crucial. What is it that inspires you?
Well, I usually like to walk and think about observing the street, I’m inspired by my own experiences, a long journey from my city, El Puerto de Santa María, where I live now in Paris. I consider myself a very spiritual person, and in every place where I am, I identify with many experiences that I have lived since my childhood, and that anthropologically they look very interesting. In all of them I find a lot of spirituality, and actions full of rituals such as traditions (as long as they do not use animals), work, nature, painting on the street, the catacombs of Paris, abandoned places …
-What is the hardest part while working on a piece of art?
Make a good first fit on the wall, and make the whole set make sense. “You have an artist, you admire, and for what?” Well if I had to say an artist … I suppose it would be Axel Void, I see him as a forerunner of painting a Contemporary figurative painting in the street.
-Do you have an artist(s) you admire and what for?
Well if I had to say an artist … I suppose it would be Axel Void, I see him as a forerunner of painting a Contemporary figurative painting in the street .
-Which cities are the most inspiring for you?
In cities where you can paint without problems creates an incredible underground culture. In a city, I seek to paint without problems, for me that says a lot of its people … There are many cities that change their laws, and increasingly repress creativity through its streets … Berlin, Paris, Athens, Lisbon … Latin America has to be incredible. Italy seems to me the perfect country to paint easy and to live one of the purest graffiti scenes in the world.
-What other passions do you have apart from art?
I like nature a lot, I’ve been a Scout since I was very young.
-Do you have a wild project that you dream of achieving some day?
I would like to make a trip in a van, and travel with my painting for different cultures and landscapes … That … and maybe paint the Paris metro, but I’m not as brave as my friends, hehehe .
-Tell us about your art, does it include symbolisms, messages or repeated patterns?
In my work I try to use images that make an allegory to that spiritual world that I need to feel close to … I like to talk about people, to relate people to nature, to work on the look, time, sequence, duality of Things … all topics as resistance ideology. When I walk through a city and I do not have much time to paint, I like to paint animals, they refer me to that lost nature.
– How long time does a piece of art work of yours usually survive for?
More official walls or in my city, years. But in cities like Paris, weeks, sometimes even hours. But I’ve never cared about that, sometimes I paint somewhere that I know will not last long, but I like to whistle for the action itself.
-What do people first think of, or feel, when they see one of your works on the street?
For when they see the final result, being figurative painting is easy for all the neighbors to understand and like … What I think is that it implies a change of perspective in the way they inhabit that place, and they are made a little more Beautiful your day to day. At first when I start to work and to put colors no neighbor understands … hehe and to those who did not like the idea of painting a white wall, it makes him less grace even. But then … I think everyone likes them and they feel identified with me. What I like the most is like those neighbors who flatly refused my painting in the end it is difficult to understand why they like … and that seems very important to provoke a reaction in the public that inhabits the space.
-Do you have a secret you would like to share with us?
I have several pseudonyms to paint graffiti
-What are your creative plans for the future?
Among other things, in November I inaugurated my first individual exhibition in Paris, through my gallery @pdp_gallery_df
-How can we be informed about your next actions?
Through my Instagram or Facebook Page Manolo Mesa:
-Is there a specific thought or message you would like to pass to our audience out there?
Well I would like to give my greetings to all those people that I love and I haven’t seen in quite a while as I would like.
Thank you! It has been fantastic to know more about the mind and the person behind such talented and inspiring works. “I support the art of the street” team.