Six days into the painting of another huge mural, Argentinian artist Martin Ron has to finally take a break. The weather, great until this point, begins to have other ideas. It’s an opportunity to speak to him, to find out more about his work.
Huddled in an alcove as the rain pours down. The latest mural on the iconic Village Underground wall in Shoreditch is almost complete! A green and white chequered background quickly catches the eye. A disembodied hand hovers over the top. A finger is cocked in the shape of a gun towards the bottom left hand corner. On the far right hand side a scaffold has been set up. This is where Martin is in the process of adding the final touches. He will eventually add in a man controlling the hand remotely via a giant mechanical arm. Then, randomly, a badger! But for now rain has stopped play. Martin Ron, has been forced to take cover.
Record Breaking Street Art
Martin Ron paints big. Considering his recent record, the famous Village Underground wall is small fry. The artist had recently painted a 1300 square foot giant mural on the side of a giant apartment block. That was in the Villa Urquiza neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. That mural gained a lot of worldwide attention such was it’s impact and surrealist nature. Hard to summarise it incorporated a skateboard, a sculpture, a plane dragging a man by his hair and a parrot. Sound strange? Try describing a Picasso in one sentence. Then you’ll understand that Martin Ron’s work is not designed to be easily summarised in a quick soundbite.
Martin Ron Mural in London
It’s Martin’s first time in London. So far he’s found an appreciative audience for his art. “The project has been going on for a few days now. People like to come along to see the progress. The people here are very friendly and seem very receptive to street art” he says. The wall itself is part of a Street Art London project. It has already seen some of the world’s best street artists paint the huge space in the centre of Shoreditch. Martin Ron joins the likes of Stik, Thierry Noir, Pablo Delgado, RUN, Kid Acne and The Rolling People. It’s a roll of honour he’s proud to be part of. “Its a very important project, it is one of the most important walls in London” he says.
Considering the weather we arrange to meet the next day when the heavens might have closed. On Sunday he’ll also have some interpreting help from a friend at Buenos Aires Street Art. He’s worked with them on projects in the past. Not least the huge mural in Villa Urquiva. English is not Martin’s first language so in order to truly express himself the interpretation will help. Despite this he is more than capable of holding a conversation about his art. He’s had so much practice courtesy of the many interested passers by over the past few days.
Buenos Aires Street Art
Street Art in Martin’s home town of Buenos Aires is thriving! As it would seem is the scene in many other parts of Latin America. “In Buenos Aires there are a lot of artists and a lot of big walls. There are a lot of people who love street art so it’s not concentrated in one place. There are a lot of projects” explains Martin. Local governments in the continent are also keen on the medium. “I work with governments to paint walls that are in a bad state or covered in propaganda or vandalism. They offer me walls on which to paint and give the materials and equipment I need to finish the project” he says.
The attitude to street art in Latin America is different to that in Europe. “People have more time to paint because it is not illegal” says Martin. “The quality is good because people are not in a hurry having to cover their identity. It’s also not as complicated going about trying to find walls”. This may go some way to explaining the seeming explosion of South American art in London at the moment. The likes of Mateus Bailon, Alex Senna, Cranio and Mag Magrela all have added their mark onto the capitals walls. “In Latin America people like to travel and paint where they go. So an artist from Argentina might go to Uruguay or Brazil to paint with friends. A good network of artists is created”.
Martin has a style which is all about impact. He uses photography to help compose his creations. Then he uses pictures of real people. Folk he has met or who have helped collaborate with the project. He then incorporates them into the art. Using the technique of ‘hyper realism’ he then makes very detailed characters or details to form part of the mural. The end result is often similar to a photograph. He incorporates elements of fantasy and 3D and try’s to relate the subject matter to something relevant to the area. He incorporates surrealism and creates art which the local public would be able to interact with. It forms a relationship between what is on the wall and the people who live or work nearby.
The hand in his mural on the Village Underground is that of his girlfriend. The man operating the machine which controls the hand is the father of a friend. Someone he stayed during his first few nights in England. The inspiration for the piece comes from here too. “I don’t pretend to paint about global political situations. Little local daily situations are enough for me” says Martin. The little local situation in this case being the badger cull. An event due to take place in some parts of the country within the next few days. A seemingly odd topic for a mural. It was the first issue that Martin had really heard about since arriving in the country. After all as Martin explains “badgers are one of the most recognisable British animals”.
The end result is named ‘BadgerGate’. The mural represents the controversy in some parts of the country about the proposed Badger cull. The hand, now connected to a mechanical arm, is operated by a man. He is angry that badgers have been tearing up his garden. A badger, scurrying around at the base of the mural is caught in the sights of the cocked finger from the hand.
For Martin it’s all about being able to merge everyday challenges with everyday people. “I don’t like trying to paint strong statements” says Martin. “I like to paint fantastic situations that co-exist with other situations around them on the street. Everyday occurances are mixed with surrealism and situations of fantasy”. The end result takes the viewer some time to take in. It’s not easily described in a soundbite and nor, I suspect, should it be.
Martin Ron was interviewed over the weekend of 24th and 25th August at the Village Underground Wall. Interpreting help was provided from Buenos Aires Street Art.
For more information about the work of Martin Ron try:
- Buenos Aires Street Art – Martin Ron completes fantastic new mural in Villa Urquiva
- Tutisoler – El Sacrificio de Tejones (blog in spanish about the mural)
- Buenos Aires Street Art – Real Genius Interview with Martin Ron
For more Inspiring City posts featuring the iconic Village Underground wall try: