Hyper-realistic, post-cubism is at the core of Spanish-born Miguel Angel Belinchón’s work. Known in art circles as Belin, the young artist has been going against the grain since the start of his artistic journey. With an adventurous spirit at heart, he dropped out of his art training school citing outdated art provisions and opted instead to self-train by visiting the many libraries, museums and cathedrals Spain is known for. At 15, Belin began experimenting with spray paint by painting in the streets of his hometown. This would be the start of his venture into the art of graffiti. Despite being a prosecutable act, it did not stop Belin from using the neighborhoods of his own city as a backdrop to feature his graphic signatures and lettering.
Today, Belin reigns as one of the most accomplished graffiti artists in Europe, having perfected his highly-recognisable spray paint technique. His work has seen him explore the deformation of anthropomorphic reality, breaking down animals and humans to create a universe that is his personification of the behaviors of society. While Belin is sometimes referred to as “the new Picasso”, his work sits at intersection of where the deconstruction of cubism meets pictorial hyperrealism. Building walls form his canvas, often displaying morphed faces and bodies, free from rules.
LUXUO speaks to the 44-year-old artist to discuss the rise of Postneocubism, the graffiti movement in street art and his upcoming solo exhibition wih the DARE Festival on 15 December 2023 at Yang Gallery.
How did you get involved in Graffiti culture?
My first encounter with Graffiti culture was when I was 14, through a black and white magazine that a friend showed me. Seeing the works of other artists, I was enticed and impressed by the possibility of expressing art on a wall.
What are your earliest memories of handling a marker or spray can?
My earliest memories revolve around the difficulty of obtaining markers and sprays, because of their cost. However, the speed and efficiency of how these art tools brought into my signature style of painting on a wall was fascinating.
Are you part of any artistic group?
There were various crews that formed in my city, and I joined some of them during that time. We were a group of kids with the common goal of painting and expressing ourselves artistically.
Where does the inspiration for your work come from?
My inspiration comes from my home, family, my immediate surroundings, and my travels. I aim to capture the diversity and details of each experience.
Do you work with a sketch in hand?
Generally, yes. I prefer to base my work on a preconceived idea, though I also enjoy the improvisation during the process. The transformation of the initial idea is part of the charm, and it’s the final result where everything comes alive that I always look forward to.
What elements most identify and characterise your style currently?
Currently, my work represents how I have grown and evolved as an artist over the years, merging realism with the freshness of graffiti. In my opinion, as an artist, it’s important not to limit oneself to a singular style, and instead, allow one’s artistic language to naturally flow and evolve.
Tell us about the concept of Postneocubism you have developed.
Inspired by cubism, Postneocubism aims to transform perspectives of a face, reflecting the diversity of views in life. The intention behind my art is to show that everything is multifaceted, that one way of perception and thinking is not all of it, and that there are many aspects and dimensions to observe and feel.
What are your thoughts on the division between graffiti and street art?
I don’t think of it as a division but rather a complementation. Graffiti arises from the need for expression, and alongside street art, it seeks to democratise art, making it accessible to all, regardless of location.
What do you think about the movement of graffiti and street art entering galleries?
I believe galleries and museums should witness and protect these forms of expression. Graffiti and street art are well-established artistic vanguards, and their inclusion in formal spaces acknowledges their potential.
What is your favorite museum in Spain?
For me, the Prado is marvelous, while the Reina Sofia is powerful and current. I think both are my favorites; I like to stroll through their halls.
Who are the idols that have most inspired you over the years (both Spanish and foreign)?
Well, I usually admire any artist who puts effort into every stage of their work. Picasso, Velázquez, Dali, Geronimush Bosch, Klimt, Egon Schiele, among many others.
What is your approach when starting a new mural? What drives you to choose certain walls and colours?
The mural is my main canvas, and every intervention in public space is an act of democratising art. My monumental murals invite reflection, while affirming the ability of art to transform urban environments. I determine the content based on the world’s events and my surroundings, expressing both what I like and also what I don’t.
Is there any particular culture that has influenced your aesthetic?
I wouldn’t say there is a specific one; I suppose I like to capture what I like most about each place and person I encounter. I appreciate every detail and the stories behind the different traditions, colours, food; the diversity and uniqueness of the world is wonderful.
What will art lovers see in your solo exhibition in Singapore?
They will see the work I have been developing for the last eight years, a brief evolution that — although it may not seem like it — has naturally found its path. They will realise how I work, not only with colour, which is a very personal language, but also with the stroke, the line, and each brushstroke. I would like them to observe all the work behind each piece and, if possible, see a bit of myself.
The five words that best describe your art?
Symbolic, personal, natural, truth, intimate.
What are your greatest achievements, and of the works you’ve created, which are you most proud of thus far?
The greatest achievements are undoubtedly being able to make a living doing what I enjoy most, which is creating. And also being able to travel the world to experience diverse cultures and meet different people from all walks of life. The works that make me most proud, honestly, are all of them; each has its moment and seeks to live beyond me, they are like my children, and it’s difficult to say which one I love more.
What role does the artist play in society?
I think the role of an artist is fundamental as their vision represents the world around us. Through the artist’s perspective, future generations can peer into our time, our society. The artist speaks, in the most subtle or heart-wrenching way, about events in the world and the society they belong to.
What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
I don’t know yet; I suppose doing what one loves is gratifying until it’s not. It’s still a job, and well, I try to enjoy even on those days when I don’t know what I’m going to paint. [Laughs]
Belin will be showcasing his upcoming solo exhibition on the 15 December 2023 at Yang Gallery as part of the DARE festival. DARE, Disabled Artists Rebuilding Earth is a movement to celebrate the creatives of artists with disabilities globally.
Belin is invited and sponsored by the branding and creative agency Personaje Studio. Personaje Studio looks forward to bringing more artist for upcoming events in future.
For more on Belin, click here.
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