D.H. Lawrence once wrote that there is no perfection in the immediate present. When you think about looking at art in a gallery, the attention you provide in studying and interpreting a work of art stretches the moment. That analytical practice comes with the sophisticated territory. However, street art or graffiti – something you might see through a bus window or as you walk by – steals and fulfills an instant moment. Somewhere in the swirling vortex of your mind, you know that which you saw. An instant moment is happening now and it’s a challenge to capture. But I think I’ve found an artist who embraces imperfection and chaos enough to manage an attempt – not to record a present moment but to gift it. (h)iram was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, moved to California as a teenager and began pursuing art, and is now settling into New York City. His background in Mexican graffiti culture has guided his art and some are plastered proudly where a free eye might roam. His mutations and fragmentations of the human form have tampered with my sense of normality and I can’t help feeling that when I look at his work I’m looking at the head of Medusa. The moment is stolen, fulfilled, and frozen.
How would you describe your style of illustration?
You know, it has slowly evolved into its own thing. I guess we can throw it into the contemporary bag. But in a more personal level my style is heavily influenced by my upbringing. I was one of those kids raised by popular culture: tv, anime, comics, video games, and of course the street, since my parents were always working. At the same time the cultural diversity I was exposed to play such a big role. But to add more about my style I love sketching, I like the looseness of it. I’m always trying to transfer this feeling to my paintings. I’m constantly on the pursuit of imperfection.
I love the flower girl, and pretty much everything you’ve done that involves the female form. What about it influences you?
Thanks. Simple answer would be girls are just so much prettier than guys.
But if I really go into detail, you have to understand that I find imperfections within chaos to be one of the only ways perfection can be achieved. There’s something beautiful about chaos that I’m really interested in.
Anyways, the classical period created an ideal representation of the perfect human figure, which is normally represented by the aesthetics of the male figure and its balance between muscle, bone structure, proportions, and all that… On the other hand the female figure follows my idea of chaos. The proportion between muscles and bones are now unbalanced by beautiful fat; making it a lot more complex and visually attractive.
Does the fragmentation or extension or multiplicity of body parts have a certain significance in your art?
You know this started because I really love drawing hands, and the emotion they evoke. This soon evolved into finding more ways to make things imperfect, while creating a juxtaposition of different emotions within one piece. It also makes the pieces more fun to make, which is a huge goal when making art. I really don’t want to make art that looks like it was a drag to create, so I have as much fun I can.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I feel like “Calaveras” is probably one of your bigger (street art) projects. Tell us about how it came to be.
It probably is the biggest. I really enjoyed the entire process. Check out the video
if you haven’t.
This piece is just a step forward to an idea I’ve been experimenting with. Calaveras is my attempt to mix more aspects of my culture along with my art and everything else that influences it. It’s directly influenced by Mexican culture, but it is still my own thing. They are my representation of sugar skulls and calacas predominantly seen in the day of the death holiday.
What made you decide to take your art public?
Just like everyone else graffiti played a huge role in my upbringing, but public art has always been huge for me. I still remember the first time I saw Orozco’s “Lucha Social” as a child. The violence in the colors and the imagery was just too real for me to process at the time.
Accessible art like that is what inspires me. I love the idea of art being owned by everyone, and no one at the same time. Making my art public has been a goal from the beginning.
Are you working on anything right now?
Like I mentioned before, I’m still studying and working on the evolution of my Calaveras. I want to stick with them for a while and see where they take me. Besides that I just made the move to NYC so I’m taking it slow while I get settled; you have to stop and smell the constant smell of piss in the city.
Written by Katrina Wong