An Interview with Macro on Street Art
Interview by Rick Powell.
I am so sorry to see Macro go.
I’d been thinking about contacting Buenos Aires street artist Macro for months, having enjoyed the work that I had discovered while giving walking tours in San Telmo. Before we had a chance to schedule an interview in person, the holidays came around and unbeknownst to me, 26-year-old Cristian Rojas, aka Macro, moved back to his hometown of Mulchen in the south of his native country. I didn’t even know he was from Chile! Rojas says that the nickname, Macro, has followed him around since he was a kid.
I also didn’t know that he had painted one of my favorite murals — and one of the weirdest — in the neighborhood:
I’m always a sucker for typography integrated with street art. That mural’s long since gone, however, painted over by some talentless taggers with pretensions of being mural artists — a practice that’s becoming all too common in the city these days.
I’d also loved this portrait of a rather handsome blue-haired alien dude, painted in heavy strokes on the red door of a San Telmo parking garage:
Thankfully, it’s still there. I thought immediately that Macro was someone used to painting on canvas, but it turns out I was wrong about that. Read the interview to find out why.
Rick: I’ve seen your street art and murals in San Telmo and have taken many photos of them. They remind me of the animation of Hayao Miyakazi. Is he one of your influences? Or manga and Japanese animation in general?
Macro: Yes, he is! Visionaries like Miyazaki or Moebius exert a very strong generational influence on my work. I don’t have a strong affinity for manga but with Japanese illustration I certainly do, especially with the older methods and styles. I really like the strokes of the pen and brush and how they compose with them.
But anyway, I am always looking around, being influenced by how other people see things…that’s all part of being an aware, working artist. What matters is not to take too much stock in a particular style or artist, but just to keep working without thinking about it too much and understanding that everything is part of the process and to enjoy it. If we adhere to a single type of discourse or way of working, then we won’t grow as artists.
Rick: I understood immediately that you were an artist also who works on paper and canvas based on the style you used in your murals in the street. Which came first, more “traditional” art or street art. What made you want to pain in the streets?
Macro: My love and focus has always been drawing, although painting is what I’m working on and thinking about now. I never thought I was going to do murals simply because I didn’t much like working with paint. [chuckles]
Rick: So you only started painting seriously when you started doing street art?
Macro: Yes. When I arrived in Buenos Aires I saw a lot of work in the streets, but I was used to seeing typographic graffiti and it had never interested me much. Here in Argentina I became increasingly fascinated by street art because I was able to recognize that almost every artist here had a unique style, and even from a distance I began to be able to identify this or that artist. I realized the practice of street art was constantly evolving and I was excited to be part of that process. I found that art in the streets communicates directly and could reach different audiences without intermediaries, without flattering or kissing the asses of someone established in the world of contemporary art. Also it just came naturally to me and my work flowed effortlessly. It’s all very playful.
Rick: Did you go to art school? If so, where and how was that education important to your art?
Macro: Yeah, I studied Arts at the University of Concepcion in Chile. But I got tired of being an academic and encountering excessive fees and excessive bureaucracies. So I chose to get out while I still could. Then I sampled some classes in IUNA in Buenos Aires. But I just could never keep my attendance up. Ja ja.
Over time I became aware of the business focus of art schools and the frivolity of the gallery scene — a whole circle filled with sectarianism, falsehood and selfishness. People are trained to flatter one another and feel exclusive and to bring outsiders down. I personally do not like that, I think one should look for another way, that “art for artists” seems empty and pretentious.
It’s obvious that to be a good artist you must learn technique and theory, but one can also find his or her own way.
Rick: What are you trying to achieve with your art?
Macro: I’ve never been clear about what I want. Currently I want to be able to make an interesting living, to make connections and to reach more people.
I think we all want the same thing — to live well and to have the respect of our peers and others.
When someone writes admiring your work or compliments you on the street while you’re painting, it’s very exciting, I try to take these things with humility, because the ego is, in my opinion, the worst enemy of an artist.
I’m a dad and I like that in a few years my children will take pride in what I do. I think that’s one of my biggest motivations.
Rick: I’ve seen a few collaborative murals you did with Fede / Bla Bla Buto. [Rick’s note: I published an interview on Juanele about Fede, written by Paul Katz.] How did you come about working with him? What was that like?
Macro: If you walk through the old town of Buenos Aires (San Telmo, Constitución, Barracas) you’re going to find many of his murals.
We met in person at an event organized with Kat, his wife, for Street ArteBA and I liked the work they were doing together. I think that they have a unique and important approach to street art in the Buenos Aires community and have also provided feedback and a place for different artists to communicate, collaborate and exchange experiences. I met a lot of local artists through Kat and Fede.
Eventually we started to paint together and became good friends. When you share a wall with someone, it’s something special. It’s probably the same for musicians or actors
Along with my wife, we have much affection for Fede and his family.
Rick: So what are you doing now that you’re back home in Chile?
Macro: Now I live in the south of Chile, working on “conventional” things and a bunch of artistic issues and projects all at once, including my first serious editorial project, Cáncer. I hope to launch it during the first half of 2014.
Que bueno! Gracias Cristian! We will miss you.
You can see more of Macro’s work here: