Return“BCN will always be a city of characters” | An Interview with El Pez
El Pez is a pioneer of street art in Barcelona. He began painting in 1999, when he discovered at that time that this newly created character could bring good vibes and positivity to passers-by on the streets of Barcelona. After a few years, he began to travel all over the world to paint.
The character of El Pez comes from experimentation and a motivation to bring something constructive to the city walls. His alter ego - an always smiling fish - is present in all his work, always colorful and with a large dose of positivism. His journey is full of joy, going from classic graffiti to experimental pop art.
A few years ago he changed Catalonia for Colombia, but this month he returns to Barcelona to celebrate an exhibition at the Montana Gallery Barcelona with the title "Qué alegría". We spoke with the artist about his life in Latin America, his innovative techniques with a spray can and the importance of characters within the Barcelona scene.
A lot of people associate you with Barcelona, but you've been living out of Europe for a while now. Can you tell us where you work now? Why did you decide to move permanently?
At the moment I live 40 minutes from Bogota, Colombia. After living for a few years with my current partner in Barcelona, we decided to move and go live in her country, where the life is sabrosa, it’s easy to paint, the people are lovely and where we are currently raising our own little fish.
What is the scene like to paint now in Colombia? Are you inspired by national artists? Or other aspects of their culture?
I'm inspired by everything! I think I've said it before, Colombia is an inspiring country whichever way you look at it. I’m inspired by folklore, animals, people, the colors of nature, artists and joy.
Now how do you divide your time between street and studio?
It's very relative. Depending how my projects go, the energy I invest and how long they take me. There are times that I spend a full month in the street, other times I can be in a quiet studio for three months without going out to the street to paint. When it gets too much, I go out into the street again.
Barcelona has produced many renowned artists who work with characters, from Javier Mariscal to La Mano, GR170 or Kamil Escruela. Why do you think this trend exists?
Barcelona is a city full of creativity. I don’t know why so many artists create characters, in my case I wanted to do something different from letters and the cartoons flowed from the beginning. I think BCN will always be a city of characters.
In your experience, do artists who paint drawings rather than letters illegally have any advantage when it comes to dealing with the public or the authorities?
Well it depends on the police officer, and where you get caught painting. They probably don't care what you're doing, I don't think we have any advantages. The fact that it is easier to identify can even bring you more problems.
The exhibition is called 'Qué Alegría.' Have you always tried to communicate this emotion through your work?
At first everything was very natural, spontaneous. I liked the idea of creating a character who smiled appearing in every corner of the city, and at the same time laughing at the rules. Throughout my career I’ve found that people felt a satisfying and positive feeling when they saw my characters smiling.
It was always something very emotional to cheer up the people who saw my graffiti, without thinking about it I had created a universal message, and a mission to bring happiness to the streets of the whole world.
We've seen that you've developed a stencil layering technique to produce several large-scale detailed works with spray paint. Why is it your tool of choice?
Spray paint is and always will be the fastest paint with the best coverage, I love it for that reason, and for the number of colors that are available. (I always have a streaker that I use to paint in the street).
Despite being in the studio, the fact of using spray paint keeps me connected to my activity in the street. I feel very comfortable with a tool that I know and control very well. In this case and to be able to produce medium size work with small details, I help myself with the stencils to be able to get great precision in the lines.
It's very different from when I paint on the street, it’s slower, more technical and more thoughtful work. The only thing it has in common is the tool and the joy it transmits!
Apart from graffiti and art, what gives you the most joy in your life?
What gives me the most joy is my friends, a good meal, a good piña colada near the sea, a good new ska track. ¡Alegria pa tol dia!
You can visit "Qué alegría" by El Pez from July 7 to August 26 at the Montana Gallery Barcelona, Carrer de Comerç 6, 08003 Barcelona.
Read an interview with Anna Dimitrova, head of the Montana Gallery Barcelona, here.
ShareJuly 06, 2022