Known for his socially conscious, often satirical, stencils that have surfaced throughout his native Bogotá and beyond, Praxis has lately been sharing his vision and talents with us here in NYC.
What inspires you to get your work out there on public space?
I love to paint anywhere, on any surface – but especially in places where I know that folks will appreciate it. I also like to paint in neighborhoods where there isn’t much art. Those are the spaces that need it. I like bringing cheer to others!
Have you any messages that you wish to convey in your artwork?
There is always some concept or message behind what I do. I’m especially concerned with animal rights and human injustice.
Are there any specific cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?
Certainly the culture in which I grew up in Bogotá. I’ve also been influenced by African culture and from what I read. I read a lot!
You’ve been in NYC for a few months now. Any particularly striking differences between painting here and back home in Bogotá?
Back home, there is more of an appreciation for artists who paint on the streets. The people love it. They bring us drinks and food, and they always make us feel welcome.
Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?
I don’t feel it. Many of the writers I know work with or alongside street artists.
How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries?
It’s a great opportunity for us to make money some money, although I often don’t like the attitude of some of the folks who run the galleries. And graffiti and street art really do belong on the streets!
Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?
Both; I enjoy the mix of different styles.
Is there any one artist with whom you would especially like to collaborate?
Any thoughts about the role of the Internet in this scene?
Do you have a formal arts education?
I did study art formally – but just about everything I learned was by painting with other artists.
What’s the riskiest thing you’ve done?
Bombing in cities far from home – like Berlin.
Were you ever arrested?
Twice back home in Bogota. I ended up each time spending over 12 hours with drunks and thieves – but they all liked graffiti.
How would you describe your ideal working environment?
Painting in La Candeleria in downtown Bogotá.
What percentage of your day is devoted to your art?
All of it! When I’m not painting on the streets, I work as an illustrator.
Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?
How do you feel when you look back at the work you did a number of years back?
I feel that my skills have improved.
What do you see as the role of the artist in society?
To bring happiness to others.
I will be showing in STREET MURALS: An Exhibition, curated by Kevin Michael, opening this evening, October 24th 6pm-11pm at Be Electric on 1298 Willoughby Avenue in Bushwick, BK.
What do you see yourself doing in five years from now?
I would just like to paint all day every day!
Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; images 1 and 5 courtesy of the artist; photo 2 by Lois Stavsky; photos 3 and 4 by Dani Reyes Mozeson