Human nature and connection are the focus of Muzai’s work. Bold compositions, a confident colour palette and a sensitive approach make Muzai’s murals truly charismatic. In this interview, Muzai tells us about his creative process, motives for making work and ambitions for the future!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Fabricio Alves, my artist name is Muzai. I’m 48 and live in Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brasil.How long have you been making art? How did you start?
I worked as a photographer for a long time, since I studied Arts at university in 1994. A few years ago I made a connection to graffiti when I saw the wall colours that transformed the grey urban panorama in the city of São Paulo. I was passing through a phase of personal difficulties and got back to drawing like I used to do in my childhood, when I loved drawing comic characters. From there came the characters that mark my work today.
Painting on the street is a lot different to paper – how did you make this transition? Once I got back to drawing I already imagined how the figures would be inserted in the walls. My whole creation was always made in large spaces. I usually take photos of the locals to be painted, and use Photoshop to facilitate the integration between the real and virtual.
Do you do legal or illegal pieces?
Currently my main job is focused on legal pieces, Muralism. I prefer to do a projected and studied work so I can have a better aesthetic result at the end.
Who do you paint for?
I have done commercial work for companies, houses and schools. I also often do personal paintings, like meetings of street art collectives, workshops in underprivileged institutions, and paint murals in places with good visibility in urban space.
What styles/materials/techniques inspire you?
I like characters. The human dimension is very rich, and people identify with characters quickly. I like this connection. My subject is the human being; I like to work with characters, mixed techniques and various inks including spray paint, acrylic paints, stencils and adhesive tapes.
How does location affect how you work/what you paint?
My theme is always the human figure, on any surface or support. Sometimes when I produce commercial paintings I may adapt what I paint for the activity in question. I have also adapted the format of characters to the type and conditions of the wall to be painted. So, before I start working, whenever possible I like to go personally to the place to analyse the whole scene.
If resources were no issue, what would you create/do?
I would like to make a big mural on a large building, in a city like London or Berlin.
Where is the best place in the world to be a graffiti artist?
In most of Europe’s cities, I believe that urban visual culture is more appreciated which creates better conditions and a greater advantage for the artist.
What life experiences led you to the work you do now?
I believe that every human being has a mission in this life. I have reasons to believe that I was led into this way of life by spiritual forces. After working for several years with photography, I got involved in a professional activity that didn’t fit my personality. This led me to a strong personal and professional conflict. That’s where I rediscovered drawing and consequently painting. It came to me as a simple therapy, in an innocent and unintentional way and turned into something big that changed the course of my life.
What else have you been up to recently? What are your plans for the future?
Recently, I did some interventions using spray on scrap in three-dimensional sculptures. I also made a series of pretty silkscreen prints. In addition, there’s a demand for custom works of painting on canvas, which I have developed in parallel to my wall paintings. About the future, I hope to continue with this same line reaching new cities and people who align with my artistic style.
Do you have any other projects/goals aside from in graffiti/street art?
At the moment all my projects involve graffiti and street art. What I’ve done and would like to continue doing is to develop a work of art education with poor children from the outskirts of big cities, using art as a factor of transformation in those people’s lives.
All images courtesy of Muzai
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