The Sophistication of Street Art
Evoca1 is a figurative painter, designer, muralist and urban artist based in Miami, Fl. He spent his childhood in the Dominican Republic playing baseball and painting and drawing on walls. He has had no formal training in the arts and taught himself how to paint in a variety of mediums. He lends his art to a fashion label; he founded Sketches for Mankind, a philanthropic venture. He sells artesian t-shirts of his work to raise awareness of local and world issues through art and to raise money to feed the homeless and provide support in their search for shelter. He currently lives in Miami where he continues to develop his skill. Here are excerpts of our conversation edited for clarity.
Tell me a bit about yourself- How did your life in art begin?
Well, I’ve been drawing since I was a kid growing up in the Dominican Republic and although my teachers would to try to persuade my mother to enroll me in art school, for us art wasn’t really something you treated as more than a hobby, that was meant for the more privileged kids. It wasn’t until we moved to the states, that I dropped out of college and stopped pursuing a career as a baseball player, that I started taking art seriously. In 2011, I started pasting my drawings in the streets around Miami, until eventually I got an offer to paint on a wall, eventually quitting my day job to focus more on art.
A good piece of art has to have a combination of craftsmanship and substance. Whether it’s abstract, figurative, performance or conceptual, it doesn’t really work without the combination of the two.
According to you, what makes “good” art?
I’ve been trying to figure that out myself, but in my opinion a good piece of art has to have a combination of craftsmanship and substance. Whether it’s abstract, figurative, performance or conceptual, it doesn’t really work without the combination of the two. There are some artists that can paint the hell out of something, but end up just making a replica of something that has already been created. It’s really a hard question to answer without sounding a bit pretentious, but the work really needs to communicate in order to be “good” art.
How would you describe your work to the viewer?
I make mostly traditional figurative paintings with a somewhat narrative approach. I find it extremely difficult to describe what I do in words. I like to hear other people describe my work and the way it makes them feel.
What would you cite as your inspirations behind your work?
That’s one of the hardest questions I’m ever asked and the reality is, I can’t really say. In the past whenever I was asked that question, I would try to put some words together that would make sense to me, but it would just sound like a bunch of rubbish.
In reality some things just move me, like people dealing with everyday life issues, power and self-struggles, oppression, and things of that nature.
For instance, once while driving home I saw a raccoon as it dragged itself towards the sidewalk after being run over by a car, I couldn’t get over that image and that raccoon fighting for his life, seeing that screwed me up for weeks. I went on to try to reinterpret that image in one of my works. It’s really hard for me to make any work unless I’m completely moved by an idea or a feeling, the whole thing is a huge emotional process for me, I can’t make a circle without thinking about it for like 3 hours.
Which artists’ work do you admire?
Definitely some of the old masters like Degas, Velazquez, Manet. Rubens also inspired a lot of my work. I’m also really into the work of Jenny Saville, she’s definitely one of my favorite figurative painters. Also Lucian Freud and Jean Michel Baquiat, hearing stories about these artists devoting their life to their craft is really inspiring. I never attended any formal art academy, so when I made the choice to pursue art, I was really obsessed with information. I tried to decipher their work and try to understand their process.
Picture Credit: Joey Clay, JoeyClay.com
With the rise in the appreciation of performance art, how do you think visual artists remain relevant?
I don’t really think performance has any effect on the relevance of visual arts. I have friends that are great performance artists and their work is really great, but a great performance lasts for as long as you are able to remember it. It is also really hard to collect. They both coincide together, from performances we make films and photographs, which later may become paintings. But as long as people continue to create tangible works there will be an appreciation and an urge to collect art and visual arts will continue to endure.
What would you say is your favorite piece of your own work and why?
I must say my favorite piece has to be the “Running with the Wolves” mural I painted in Wynwood, Miami in 2012. I have a bit of sentimental attachment for it, as it was my first large-scale mural and it was the mural that opened the door for me to keep painting larger works.