Tell us about your very first brushstrokes in the world of art. When did your passion begin?
I started painting in the street in 1995, signing my name on walls. I haven’t had any formal training – I’m self-taught. I began art studies at secondary school, but the course didn’t meet my learning needs and I quit. I began developing my own learning method, which I discovered while painting in the street. I sought out what I liked, and rejected what I didn’t like.
Is being an urban artist a way of life for you, or a profession?
At the beginning, I had a job that was nothing to do with painting, but I spent all my earnings on cans of paint. In 2004, my work gained some attention abroad and I got my first international commissions. Three years later I was making a living from my paintings, and I’ve done so ever since.
When and how did you make the leap into the world of art galleries?
It was a natural progression. I started doing paintings in 2005, looking for other ways to make a living. These days, most of the commissions I get are canvases. In the street I hardly do any illegal painting anymore. The murals I normally do are international projects. Nowadays I want my art to stand the test of time, not disappear quickly, as happens with street art.
Where do you feel most comfortable working, in your studio or in the street?
The studio is always more comfortable because of the temperature and the light. I have a studio at home, and that’s a real luxury. In the street I need scaffolding, a crane, safety equipment… That’s not to say I’ve stopped painting open-air murals; in fact I’m going to paint one in Sweden in a few weeks, and then another in Paris.
As well as painting tou have also done sculptures – how does that need to explore new art media arise?
That need comes from my travels. For example, last year I attended an art residency in China, and I discovered the technique of India ink. I had so much fun using it that I decided to carry on exploring the medium when i got back to Spain. It’s a continual process of experimentation. That’s how I see my work. I basically paint in acrylic and oil on canvas. I also use paper and other media for techniques like india ink or metal paint for sculptures.
What inspires you in your work?
My inspiration is my day-to-day life: my family, what I eat, the people I meet in the street… I’m definitely inspired by the fact of being alive. If you walk around an open mind, inspiration comes from a lot of different places. I paint my day-to-day life, and my work is a diary.
I consider myself to be a very fortunate person, while at the same time I have worked and struggled quite a lot to do what I like. In the world of art there’s a constant risk.
Art goes up and down. I enjoy the continual instability artists experience because we have to become more alert, have better reflexes and be stronger in order to face what’s coming, which is always unknown. That’s very inspiring, and it’s also where muses arise from.
Your most recent work has a clear Cubist influence, referred to as Post Neo Cubism. Is Pablo Picasso among the artists who influence you?
Picasso is one of them, but so are Dali, Velazquez and more contemporary references such as Keith Haring, Basquiat and graffiti artists like el Niño de las Pinturas, from Granada. Actually, I think all the artists around me are a source of inspiration and end up influencing my work. It’s true that I’m currently working in styles close to Cubism because it allows me to move in new directions. My work uses a distinct language based on realism, with its own colour palette.
Faces are a recurring feature in your work – do faces inspire you?
Most of the time when I’m painting I’m not aware of why I’m doing it. As time passes I understand the meaning behind my paintings. As well as my own emotions, I use people’s expressions as inspiration: the look in someone’s eyes or the arch of an eyebrow can transmit an energy that I try to reflect in my paintings. Most of the time I let myself go, and a struggle takes place with the medium.
What are the projects that bring you most satisfaction?
When someone says to me, “Belin, do whatever you want.” I can transmit others’ ideas but if I let myself get carried away by what I’m feeling, the result is always more authentic because it’s 100% my own energy.
ng in the city.
Your work is shown in international galleries and art fairs – what has that meant for your career?
It helps my work become known. I’m interested in having my work shown anywhere in the world as long as it’s cared for and protected as if it were my own child. I want “my children” to grow, fly away and be happy wherever they are.
The more international collectors have your work, the more importance you acquire. Another advantage of being on the international market is the opportunity it brings to discover other cultures, which is very inspiring. On a trip to Mexico I met the woman who is now my wife.
Is Linares, your native city, an inspiration for your work?
I’ve thought about moving to other cities –I love Paris, for example. Linares is the place where I was born and where I grew up, and that inspires me. Nowadays I can get anywhere in the world very quickly. I don’t think that where you are is as important as how active you are and how much you work, struggle and fight to get what you want. I don’t find it easy to settle for less; I’m continually seeking new challenges, and for that I need time, space and inspiration. In Linares I’ve got that. So it’s perfect.
Which project are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently preparing two murals in Paris and another one at a school in Sweden. In September I’ll be at the Milan Fashion Week where I’m working on a joint project. In October I’m opening an exhibition in Mexico with local artisans. In November I’ll be in North Carolina, working on a sculpture and a mural. And in December, I’ve got a trip to Singapore planned. I never stop.
A must-see place to visit in Jaen…
You can’t leave Jaen without seeing the Sierra de Cazorla, one of the great wonders of nature. And while you’re there, stop off in Linares to learn about the history of mining in the city.