It’s times like these we are extremely glad that social media exists because without it, we may never have got to see his work, as most of his pieces can only be found in Kristiansand, Norway.
Known for his paste-ups, which are primarily of women, his simplistic design and use of colour really make these pieces stand out in the areas he installs his work. It’s no wonder that a lot of ENER Konings images have been some of our top pics over the last few months.
ENER took time out to speak to us about his work. Enjoy!
You originally got involved in the urban art scene as a photographer and fan. What was it about this medium that interested you?
I’ve always been interested in art, so it’s hard to say exactly where this passion began. But I can relate it to something my grandmother told me as a child.
We often went for walks and one time she said to me “Are you finding anything interesting on the sidewalk? Lift your gaze. Look at the beautiful city and the people that live in it.” This was a period when street art was becoming more and more prominent in the local cityscape.
I discovered that the city was like an outside art gallery. It wasn’t hidden away inside, it was outside for everyone to see and enjoy.
What then prompted you to make the leap from spectator to a participant in street art?
At first when I discovered traditional graffiti, tags and throw ups, my friends and I ran around Bergen with disposable cameras and photographed every piece we could find. Later in my room, I copied the photos into my sketchbook to practice. After a while the city council opened the first legal graffiti wall (called the 5th wall), where the older writers taught us the tools and rules of the trade.
Stencil art by Dolk and Pøbel started showing up around that time, and I realised street art could be something other than letters, something more figurative.
Who are your biggest creative influences?
There are many amazing artists out there who have had a lot of influence on me like: KAWS, JR, Shepard Fairey, Vhils, and later Sandra Chevrier and Martin Whatson. BUT, I want to say that I wouldn’t have been where I’m at today if it hadn’t been my fellow writers at the 5th wall.
What do you find the most fulfilling about painting in the streets (as opposed to for a gallery)?
To me street art isn’t just a tool for communication, it is in itself a language.
We live our lives in our routine and see the same boring stuff every day, so I like to surprise people by putting art where they didn’t expect to see it. It’s sort of my gift to break the monotony.
With paste-ups you have the possibility to go big really fast, at the same time they aren’t permanent, the paste-up gets weathered quickly. In that way the image is there for just a little while before it is gone. This helps to enhance the element of surprise.
Women feature heavily in your work. Can you tell us more about why this is?
Because they are beautiful!
What I try to do is to make the world more appealing and colourful. Street art has a tendency to be very political and critical of society, but when you strip away the political elements it gives the viewer a more personal and pleasant experience. That’s what I’m all about.
Can you tell us more about the significance of your peace dove?
I came up with this new identity, this alter ego, when I was in my early teens. Back then, the intention was to use it for graffiti, but later I’ve used it as a means to figure out who I am.
You can find the dove in many of my works, not only the stickers. In a way the dove (both the image and the ego) is a simple message of peace. Not in the political “world peace” sense, but as a call to people to be good to one another.
You’re based in Kristiansand, Norway. Is there a local street art community, and if so, what is it like?
Yes there is a community, but it’s small. Kristiansand is a small conservative city in the bible belt of Norway. They used to have an archaic view on street art, but it helps that we now have a yearly festival – KRS Gadekunstfestival. The festival invites national and international artists to town. Some of the artists that have been featured are Isaac Cordal, Liqen, AFK and Dotdotdot.
I hope that this festival can inspire the younger generations and help the community grow. It has certainly opened the minds of the general public and made them more accepting towards street art.
It seems fair to say that you work mostly close to home. Why is that (besides practicalities)?
I’ve spent a long time getting started because I didn’t feel like I was good enough. I felt like I brought nothing new to the table. But a couple of years ago I found out this was all in my head. However I am only just getting warmed up!
Kristiansand has been my starting block and now I’m pasting in Stavanger and Bergen, and planning a trip to Lisbon. But I like the local inhabitants and I want to keep making their city beautiful.
If you could paint anywhere in the world, where would it be?
It’s hard to decide… but i would love to paste in Tokyo, London, Paris, New York, Wynwood walls and NuArt Festival in Stavanger.
What upcoming projects do you have planned?
This year I want to hit the streets as much as possible, I have plans to go abroad to do some murals. But right now I am working on completing my first big gallery exhibition in Kristiansand.
My mission is to keep up my urban beautification for people around the world and of course: Spreading the bird!
Big thanks to ENER Konings for taking time to speak to us!
Check out more of his work on Global Street Art!