By: Admin | June 1, 2009
Blu, as he is known in graffiti circles, has quickly developed a rabid followingin the street-art world. Blu’s images—typically renderedwith black lines filled with white paint and intermittent spotcolor—change with every wall he paints, yet remain absolutelydistinctive; this process sets him apart from street artists who rely onrepeated tags or stencils. Although his work is well-known, thethoughtful, 28-year-old, Italian-born artist is himself elusive. Hispaintings have appeared on walls all over the world, yet he hasmaintained his anonymity (his given name remains a mystery), seeminglyless out of a concern for his safety than as a way to enjoy the act ofputting his work in the public sphere. In fact, his greatest pleasure is“sitting down and looking at people’s reactions” afterfinishing a piece. It’s also why he dislikes the monotony of mostgraffiti today. “Many people don’t really feel the need tosearch deeper into this artform, and they keep doing the same things foryears and years,” he says. “This can turn a nice youngartistic movement into a boring hobby for middle-aged people.”Blu’s images are anything but.
What is your most essential tool?My sketchbook and some kind of pen for the drawings, and along pole with a roller and brushes for painting walls.
Do you have a favorite kind of notebook?I don’t have a favorite. Ihave a lot, and every one is different. I really like to collectsketchbooks, and that’s the first thing I buy when I go to aforeign country. Last year, I filled up six.
What are some of the worst jobs you’ve held to pay the rent?I had a short, seasonal job with my uncle who is a house painter. It was terribly hardwork, but I learned a lot of tricks about painting walls. It has beenone of the things that made me change my painting technique. Doingshitty jobs made me understand how important art is. Sometimes it canreally save your life.
What do you like most about drawing and painting?Painting in public spaces is a really interestingsocial experience. What I like most is not the piece itself, butpeople’s reaction, and how the piece is digested by the city. Atthe beginning, it is something new: It can be pleasant or disturbing,depending on the point of view. Then, with time, it becomes part ofeveryday life, and it can take on an old, familiar flavor, like thoseold, rusted billboards or advertising murals, forgotten in the corners of our cities.
Is your work Italian in some way?If I try to look at my work from outside, I can clearly see some typical elementsthat come from the Italian art tradition, but it’s not somethingthat comes from the deep study of art; it’s just the fact ofliving in a country that has ancient art everywhere. Everywhere we cansee examples of giant decorated buildings, with frescoes and big statuesall around. For sure, in my work, I can see the influence of certainrhetorical techniques that come directly from this ancient Italiantradition. It is something I have eaten and digested over the years.
What’s your favorite museum?I really like the British Museum in London—the biggest collection of stolen thingsin the world. In Bologna, I like the Palazzo Poggi Museum, which has alarge collection of anatomical wax models for medical teaching.
Where would you like to see your work most? Or do you like it perfectly fine on walls?Public walls are the perfect place, and cities are the perfect museums: They have a large public, they havegiant, unused spaces, and they don’t even have budget problems,because thousands of artists every night are going out to make some newartworks for free. And most of all, there are no stupid directors andcurators to tell you what (not) to do.