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Santiago

Taking It To The Streets: Pixel in Santiago

Pixel "Vincent Pixel Remix" (2014) 320 x 180 cm After "Self Portait" Vincent van Gogh (1889)

Pixel “Vincent Pixel Remix” (2014) 320 x 180 cm After “Self Portait” Vincent van Gogh (1889)

Move over, Invader. There’s a new kid in Santiago, Chile who is taking mosaic street art to a whole new level. Exploring the intersection of art and technology, Jorge Campos, who likes to be known as Pixel, shares his  images of cultural heroes and  riffs on art icons with the people of Santiago where they live – in their own neighborhoods.

Here is what the artist has to say about himself:

Pixel is an artist from Santiago, Chile, who started his design career when it was still hard to think that visual design will evolve towards technologies, as it prevails today.  Today, the use of technology is not only an obligation, but a responsibility, as it allows us to record our history and improve our design and artistic tools.

 

Pixel-Art "Eye Tracking" (2013) 150 x 150 cm

Pixel “Eye Tracking” (2013) 150 x 150 cm

Street art has been a main inspiration in Pixel’s artistic development. For two years, he worked in Paris taking photos of the explosive art found on the streets, capturing works by great artists like Blek Le Rat, Jef Aérosol, Miss. Tic, Lézarts Biévre.  More from the artist:

In Paris, he learned firsthand of the work of Space Invader who inspired him to research pixel and mosaic techniques. Subsequently, he studied the religious and decorative mosaics of Mesopotamia, Greece and Byzantium. He began to explore the use of the pixel to create simplified images that synthesized color and form to its limit. Now, he has reached a cohesion between photography, mosaic, and dominant technological tools to create his own signature technique.

Pixel-Art "Tribute to Nicanor Parra" (2014) 150 x 200 cm.  Photo via www.platformaurbana.cl

Pixel “Tribute to Nicanor Parra Remix” (2014) 150 x 200 cm. After a portrait by Jean Franco Castro.  Parra is a Chilean poet, mathematician and physicist. Photo via www.platformaurbana.cl

Today, the artist is on a mission to make art easily accessible to the people of Santiago. He calls his installations “interventions” and believes that his mosaic images will inspire people to become engaged with art. And it appears to be working.

Pixel_Context_Pixel_TributeToNicanorParra_2014_150x200cm (3)

We asked the artist what the reaction has been to the mosaics:

At first, people think they are facing a painting. Approaching and touching, they realize they are in fact facing a mosaic. Then, they wonder if it was really hand made.  They also play with distance to appreciate the work in detail, take photos, and when the image is revealed perfect and detailed on the small screens of their smartphones, they fall for it!

Pixel "M-Maybe After Lichtenstein" (2014) 80 x 80 cm

Pixel “M-Maybe Remix Lichtenstein” (2014) 80 x 80 cm  After Roy Lichtenstein “M-Maybe” (1965)

All of Pixel’s interventions include a plaque with a QR code that will take the viewer to his online portfolio. There, people can see how he makes the mosaics and find other works of his across the city.

Pixel-Art "Mirada Alucinada" 2013 320 x 130 cm.. After Phillip Hasman portrait of Salvador Dali

Pixel “Mirada Alucinada” 2013 320 x 130 cm. After Phillip Hasman portrait of Salvador Dali

Pixel_Context_Pixel_TributeToNeruda_2014_194x210cm (2)

Pixel "Tribute to Neruda" (2014) 194 x 210 cm

Pixel “Tribute to Neruda” (2014) 194 x 210 cm.

Pixel "Game Over" (2013) 150 x 150 cm.

Pixel “Game Over” (2013) 150 x 150 cm.

Jorge Campos

Jorge Campos “Pixel”

We like Jorge Campos and what he is doing on the streets of Santiago. Bravo!

Enjoy – Nancie

RESOURCES:

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Comprehensive Article on Isidora Paz López and the Mosaics of Puente Alto

On 08, Apr 2014 | No Comments | In Art, Et cetera, Featured | By Nancie

We were honored when the editors of Andamento, the journal of the British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM), asked us to write a comprehensive article covering the magnificent achievement of Isidora Paz Lopez and her team in creating the mosaic murals of Puente Alto, Chile.  With over 30 photographs, the article covers the history, inspiration and methodology of the project as well as the impact the mosaics have had on the citizens of this suburb of Santiago.  It is free for you to read right here.

You can read the article by clicking on the link above, but we strongly urge you to purchase a copy of the publication to see all of the Puente Alto illustrations and to get all of the great content the publication has to offer mosaic lovers. Additional articles include:

Dissolving Into Light: The Creative Journey of Elaine M. Goodwin – Elaine M. Goodwin talking to Ilona Jesnick about how the internationally recognized artist was inspired by working with Nek Chand and transformed by an experience in the Basilica of San Vitale.  Illuminating.

Mosaics by Elaine M. Goodwin

Mosaics by Elaine M. Goodwin

Tygers Burning Bright – Gregory Edwards looks in depth at two mosaic cycles in London devoted to the work of the writer William Blake; the first a 1920s series by Boris Anrep (a personal favorite) and the second an undertaking of the artists and volunteers of the splendid Southbank Mosaics. Really great reading.

Anrep

Mosaics by Boris Anrep at Tate Britain illustrating “Proverbs of Hell”

Mosaic by "Project Blake" Southbank Mosaics

Mosaic by “Project Blake” Southbank Mosaics

Hodie Mecum Eris In Paradiso – Victorian Arts and Crafts historian Neil Moat has made a marvelous discovery; the origins of the decorative motifs later to be associated with Continental Art Nouveau in the mosaics by Messrs. Rust & Co’s mosaics at St. George’s Church. Fascinating history and beautiful photos.

Messers. Rust & Co mosaic pavements in St. George's church, Jesmond

Messers. Rust & Co mosaic pavements in St. George’s church, Jesmond

This issue of Andamento is truly wonderful.  Now, go buy one!

 

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A Natural History Museum in Mosaic Rises in Chile: Isidora Paz López

Outside of Santiago, Chile something magical is happening.

A concrete jungle of a metro station is becoming a brilliant, shimmering natural history museum. A community wracked by drugs and violence is reconnecting with itself and its natural heritage. And a cadre of young artists with no formal training in the art form is becoming one of the most accomplished mosaic teams on the planet.

Meet Isidora Paz López, sculptor, ceramicist, visionary and Artistic Director for a project that will cover the 84 pillars of the metro station in Puente Alto, Chile with mosaic. The 37 year old mother of two is determined that she and her crew of 32 people will complete all of the pillars – an estimated 2,500 square meters of mosaic – in just 12 months.

It was the mayor of Puento Alto, Manuel José Ossandon, who gave López the pillar challenge. As his last term as mayor was ending, Ossandon wanted to leave behind a gift to the community – something big, something bold, something transformational.  It started with mosaicing two long walls in the station.  These mosaics depicting the nearby mountain ranges at sunrise and sunset would be the first time that art would be incorporated into metro station in Chile.

When that ground-breaking project was completed, the mayor turned  to López once again, this time with the prospect of covering the 84 pillars.  At first, Lopez was daunted, “Impossible!  Too ambitious!”  Then, she was inspired.

We created the concept of showing the flora and fauna of our area and to do it from micro to macro. People would discover in the mosaics all of the amazing nature that we have around us.  There would be images of all sorts of animal, insect and plant life.  At the bottom of each pillar would be the scientific and common names for each species, so there would be be an educational contribution to the city as well. – Isidora Paz López

Right now, 52 of the pillars are complete and another three underway.  The deadline for all 84 pillars is the end of October.

Simply put, the pillars are fantastic – alive with a vibrancy and joyfulness that is captivating. Insects, birds, reptiles, mammals, flowers, herbs, cacti, the large, the small, the intimidating, the adorable – all manner of species are represented in a graphic style that lends itself beautifully to mosaic technique.  Major elements are outlined with a thick black line that really makes them “pop” forward for the viewer. Even with limited access to tile, López and her team have created a cohesive palette that holds the 84 pillars together without a single visual glitch. The mosaics are engaging, stunning and elegant.

The challenge we have at the moment is to finish on time.  We are making the central figures of the mosaics with so much love that we take more time than we expect with every one.  We don’t want to reduce the quality of our work for the quantity of our work, so the challenge is to do it in the most fantastic and efficient way that we can.

Arana Pollito by Isidora López

López’ organization for making the mosaics is very similar to the way work was divided among ancient Roman mosaic workers.

Working in teams, we have four groups:  The Artists who make the designs and execute the principal figures in the mosaics, the Helpers who work alongside the Artists in creating the principal figures, the Background group, most of whom are students, who fill in the solid colors, and finally the Grouting group who also move the scaffolding for us from pillar to pillar.  We are 32 workers in total and we work Monday through Friday, six hours a day.

Each pillar starts with a photograph, sometimes one taken by López’ husband, German nature photographer Chris Lukhaup.  The pillar is then assigned to an individual artist (“Head of Pillar”) who is in charge of the four to six people will work with him/her.  After an overall design is agreed upon, all work of the work is executed on site.

On average it takes two weeks and 16 people to complete one pillar – and remember, there are 84 of them – and a deadline only three months away.

When we start a new pillar, we make a total visualization of the work, choosing the colors and also the language that we will use for the design.  Language is what we call the type of cuts we use, for example “feathers”, “scales”, “squares”, etc.

Asked if she has a favorite pillar, López says

It is hard to chose one, but at the moment it is the dragonfly.  It was a challenge for me to do because of the complex symmetry.  Now that it is complete, I really like the transparent effect of the wings a lot, but  – every week there is a new favorite.

Cruising through the hundreds of photos on López’ Facebook page, we found a couple of favorites . . . this fellow with his beautifully articulated fur, for one.

Then there’s this slithery charmer with his exquisitely shaped scales.

And, there is something about this face that just makes us giggle.

López says that the support from the Municipality of Puento Alto has been outstanding.

Our salaries (nice for artists!) and all of the materials are paid for by the Municipality of Puento Alto and I am grateful for their strong support of what we are doing.  Not only do I have the chance to select the people who will work with me, but the city has given me complete artistic control as well.  They also have provided us with a crew who help us with preparing the pillars – cleaning them and removing all graffiti before we begin, moving materials, security and making the scaffolding.  We could not do this without them.

When asked what she intends to do when the project is done, López says:

I don’t know!  This is a “dream job” – we do what we like and it has been wonderful to be assured of a good salary for almost a year!  I feel that many good things will come.  We have learned a lot as individual mosaicists but also as a group.  All that we know about organization, the dynamics of work, our systems and the unique style of our designs we have learned as we worked.  I don’t want to lose all of what we have gained as a team so my greatest hope is to continue working with this group of people and to fill up the streets with our art.

 

And the community’s response?

Every day people stop to comment on how beautiful the mosaics are and to thank us for what we are doing.  Some people leave the metro at the station before this one just so they can walk part of the way home to see the mosaics.  Others come from far away just to see what we are doing and to congratulate us.  We have also noticed that many of the neighbors have become interested in mosaic; they come by in the afternoons to collect leftover tile shards for use in their own homes.

“Creative Placemaking” is a term we came upon this week in an art publication.  It was used to describe “art projects that have enlivened and enhanced neighborhoods and communities.”  We think that is exactly what Ms. López and her group are doing in Puente Alto.  This is as stunning a public art project as we have seen anywhere.  It is also one of the most ambitious – its schedule, its scope, its beauty, its intention – everything is outsized and over-the-top.

With all that they have gained through this experience, we can see the mosaicists of Puente Alto packing their nippers to travel to distant cities to do a lot more Creative Placemaking.

 

It is now our pleasure to introduce you to the Pillar Team of Puente Alto.

Bravo a todos!

The Pillar Team of Puente Alto including:  Artistic Director Isidora Paz López, Alejandra Guzmán, Paulo Meyer, Valeria Merino, Carolina González, Gonzalo San Martín, Hector Velozo, Javiera Melo, Soledad Fuentealba, Nicolás Chacón, Sabrina Morgado, Catalina Larraín, Isabel González, José Olivos, Paloma Cale, Felipe Olivos

MORE MOSAIC IN PUENTE ALTO:  The success of the Pillar Project inspired the City to commission López and her crew to cover still more Metro installations.  There is now a total of over 3,000 sq meters of mosaic.  See our update with more fabulous photos HERE

RESOURCES

  • Our 2014 story on the completed mosaics in Andamento, the journal of the British Association for Modern Mosaic

  • A MAN update on the project with meters of new work can be found here
  • More photos of the project can be found on López’ Facebook Page www.facebook.com/isidorapaz
  • López can be contacted via email at:  vientoisis@hotmail.com

 

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