Speaking with Argentinian artist Elian

October 3, 2013

Based in Córdoba, Argentina, Elian fashions mesmerizing abstract compositions on huge walls. In late summer, Los Muros Hablan brought Elian and his sumptuous style to the South Bronx. While he was here in NYC, we had the opportunity to meet up.

When and where did you first get up?

Ten years ago. I was 15 when I started tagging and bombing in Córdoba.

What inspired you at the time?

My friends were doing it, and so I tried it.  I’m dyslexic, and I had always struggled with writing. But with a spray can in hand, it felt right. It was the first time I ever felt at home writing.


How does your family feel about what you’re doing?

Everyone is supportive. My mother bought me my first spray can.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

All of it.

Do you have a formal art education?

I studied graphic design. But I don’t like “institutions.”

Do you work with a sketch in hand, or just let it flow?

I always work with a sketch in hand.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?



How has your art evolved through the years?

It evolved from 3d graffiti to flat images. One can go only so far with graffiti.

When you look back at what you did two years ago, how do you feel about it?

It was too limited. There wasn’t enough concept behind it.

What other cities have you painted in besides those in Argentina?

I’ve painted in Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Santiago and Lima. And in the U. S. in Miami, Atlanta, and here in New York City.

Have you a favorite city?

Lima. I loved the food and the people.


What is the riskiest thing you ever did?

Painting trains, climbing heights and living every day.

What inspires you these days?

City life. Everything I see. The garbage, broken pavement…NYC is amazing!

Are there any particular cultures or movements that have influenced your aesthetic?

Pop-art, Russian constructivism, neo-plasticism, minimalism.

Have you any favorite artists?

Among my favorite artists who paint in public spaces are MOMO, Jaz, and El Tono. Other artists I love include Sol LeWitt, Mondrian and Pablo Siquier.


How do you feel about the role of the Internet in this movement?

It’s a necessary tool, as it allows us to see what others are doing, and it gives me an opportunity to get my work out to a larger audience.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

I think of the artist as a cultural engine, an agent for change. The artist initiates a dialogue between the city’s walls and its inhabitants.

How do you feel about the role of the photographer and blogger in all this?

I like it. It creates additional opportunities for artists to reach people. It is necessary for our culture.


How does the street art culture here in NYC differ from the one back home in Buenos Aires 

Back home, you generally don’t need permission to paint. People are grateful to you for sharing your talents with them. Here everything is a business. Back home, people are more interested in ideas.

How do you feel about the movement of street art to galleries and museums?

I’m not sure how I feel. My gallery is the city. And it is the most democratic place for me to share my work.

What’s ahead?

Working hard at my craft, engaging in huge public projects and giving back to the community.

Interview by Lois Stavsky; photos courtesy of the artist

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