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Home > English > Alternatives International Journal > 2009 > Ides of May 2009 > :Peruvian Graffiti

:Peruvian Graffiti

Thursday 4 June 2009, by Michael Ryan Wiseman

AIJ’s MR Wiseman recently read the handwriting on the
wall. It belonged to artist-at-large :Peru.

For a free trip, go to
and explore all of his creations.

Your most recent mural is of a
“Diversitree”; where are your roots?
From where do you derive your energy?

That was my most recent “commercial”
mural— I paint a wall almost every
week. My roots are spread throughout
the world; I grew up in Lima, but since
then I’ve lived in Ottawa, Montreal,
Vancouver and Barcelona. Peruvian
culture dominates my roots but they all
meet at the center. We all come from the
same place and have more in common
than we may think. For murals I get my
energy from the people I communicate
and interact with; for the rest, I get
inspired by everything from my girl to a
good meal or a good tune.

A rather unimaginative, but laced
with deep psychological insight,
follow-up: if you were a tree, what
kind would you be?

Haha, I’ve probably been a few kinds
of trees in past lives. I’ve always liked
African Baobabs and Japanese Bonsai,
I’m supposed to get one in exchange
for a design soon. I’m really into these
psychedelic root formations you can
find from Indochina’s ruins to Mexico’s
cenotes (underwater caves), or when
they grow around carved rocks, or
reach hundreds of feet down for water.
I would love to visit the redwood forest
someday as well. Does that answer
your question?

Yes, just I suspected... but seriously
now, will murals stop the scourge
of our time that is the great graffiti

There’s nothing you can do to stop it.
A city might make a dent every year by
wasting a million dollars cleaning it up,
but it’s far from a solution. In Montreal,
the Mayor’s brother has a good grasp
of something more effective, which is
collaborating with community centers
and muralists to enhance certain areas.
You create a direct dialogue with some
artists that can work together in the
hopes of getting some legal walls
for younger kids to learn on, but not
everyone sees murals as reclaiming
space from graffiti. Some people think
it proliferates graffiti and encourages
others to join in the decoration— which
usually means teenagers who don’t
know anything about graffiti making
a mess. However, graffiti does not
belong on legally sanctioned walls
alone, so it’s the best solution I can
think of. You can build walls to protect
your city from a tsunami, but everyone
is still gonna get wet.

While someone would be hard-
pressed to accuse you of graffiti, the
word itself is derived from the Italian
graffiare, “to scratch”, what is it that
gives you the, ahem, itch?

I find Graffiti culture is a tightly-bound
community of talented and untalented
people who inevitably inspire each
other for pure enjoyment. There’s an
innate need for humans to write their
names on walls, from the cave ages
to the Egyptians. Some do it for fame
and attention, some do it for the thrill,
others do it because they are tired of
being overwhelmed by ad campaigns
that tell them they should consume
instead of create.
Through drawing and painting I found
my voice, as well as an appreciation
for myself and the world as a whole. I
believe that the purpose of art in life, if
there is any, is to enlarge the dimensions
of our soul by exercising our creativity
and lay logic and reason to rest.
Not only does art have the ability to give
one a means of self-expression, but
through catharsis one is able to learn
about what is important in life through
self-actualization; the world desperately
needs to get in touch with their inner
art vandal. We have an obligation to
ourselves to dig up our true identity
which, quoting an article I read on Art
Crimes.Org while growing up, gets
“buried by years of acting like other
people.” Not only this, but one must
respond to the cultural responsibility
and contribute something.

You’re an accomplished artist— note
that I didn’t qualify that with the
word ‘street’— should I have? Where
does the street end? Where does
the artist begin?

Art belongs to the people, in the
streets, not in pretentious galleries
and museums. At least contemporary
art should be open to everyone— to be
appreciated. There’s enough brick and
concrete out there as is, we need to
decorate it and put some colour into our
environments. My “graffiti” will always
stay in the streets, otherwise it couldn’t
be called that. I don’t like this obsession
with labeling ourselves, I just know my
purpose in this life is to do art and I don’t
argue with it. You don’t put yourself at
risk on so many levels, or spend so much
of your time doing something, unless it
has a deeper meaning to you— whether
you understand that meaning or not.

Photo: shopped- it is a proposed 13-story mural at Montreal’s Habitations Bourret