Luxor’s Luxuriant Show, An Interview With The Artist
Article by Kyra Assibey-Bonsu
Gallery openings: an excuse to rub shoulders with the city’s cultured people, whilst sipping on possible free wine, have always made me a bit uncomfortable. I don’t feel hip enough to be there, and my tendency to wander around like a lost kid wasn’t helping my case much. Thus my first visit to the Buenos Aires Vault gallery to see the La Plata based artist at his art opening made me a smidge nervous.
As a typical Yanqui Palermo and I are fairweather friends. Meaning we party together but we know very little about one another, consequently I had no idea there was an art gallery beneath the NYC Bar and Bistro. The gallery appropriately named Buenos Aires Art Vault is located in Palermo Hollywood and has a clandestine and closed door aura to it. This gallery showcases contemporary street art by Latin American artists hailing from Paraguay, Venezuela, Colombia, and Argentina where many of these artists are renowned for their graffiti and murals,as a result the option to showcase their art in a gallery is a definite change of pace. For the budding BA contemporary artist enthusiast like myself, it is useful to know that BA Street Art, founded in 2009, has had a comfortable relationship with graffiti and street art for the past 10 years since it was founded by Max Fox-Tucker and Guilherme Zauith, authors of “Textura Dos:Buenos Aires street art”:a book about graffiti and art in Buenos Aires. The owners continue to spread that contemporary art love with the inauguration of Buenos Aires Vault in July of 2015 and the management of over 100 mural projects in front of houses and shops around the city as well as the biggest mural project in a popular metro station.
Now this gallery is unassuming from the outside since the only entrance is by walking to the back of the restaurant, turning right at the bar, and walking down a stairwell making the visitor feel like they are Alice following the rabbit into a suspicious hole. However unlike the hole the rabbit found himself in this comfortably sized gallery has bright lights that shine on the artwork while the gallery itself has a warmly lit glow. To fit the warm decor the atmosphere is welcoming as well, so welcoming in fact that from the moment that I entered I felt zen and relaxed whilst comfortably taking it all in and ignoring the chatter of the people around me. Although I soon remembered why I came to the gallery and after I grabbed a drink I set off to stalk (err locate) the man of the moment. Lucas Esteban Artola is a renowned street artist from La Plata who goes by the moniker Luxor, and he is one of several street artists that BA Vault had and will be showcasing in the future. Luxor exhibited his work at the Buenos Aires Vault for several weeks in March and said he was inspired to become a street artist by his artistic family and his studies in Set Design at the School of of Fine Arts at the University of La Plata. A common theme throughout Luxor´s work is aboriginal imagery and symbolism that show the traditions of pre-Colombian civilizations like the Aguada tribe from Northwest Argentina. Likewise his work weaves together different natural and ritualistic symbols such as: fire (the spark within us all to achieve), sun (movement and energy), the fist (the people’s struggle), flowers (growth and nature), and birds (freedom).
Adri Godis/BA Vault Gallery
Would he be surrounded by friends and family? Will he have time to speak with me? Most importantly what am I going to wear? With some liquid courage on my side I intended on making Luxor my new best friend.
Finally I spot Luxor and musk up the courage to ask him a few questions, Luxor and I get comfortable and honest.
Me: Why do street art?
Luxor: For me I like to talk about ‘popular painting’ because for me ‘popular’ is something that should be accessible to everyone and free.
Me: So tell me how long have you been a street artist?
Luxor: I have been doing street art since 2010 and I believe the street is the best place to paint. There were moments a couple of years ago when I was painting two or three murals a day because I like to be active.
Me: And any particular reason you are showcasing your work in Buenos Aires, instead of La Plata?
Luxor: “Matt (owner of Vault) sent me good vibes and it is an opportunity for me to show my work in a different space. Although my scene is in my hometown of La Plata, and I will always feel more passionately there.”
Me: So why a gallery show, when your work has such a strong street art presence?
Luxor: It’s like asking a doctor why they work? It’s a way to make a living and as an artist it’s the only way.
Me: What themes would you say are prevalent in your work that people may not know about?
Luxor: There’s the influence of indigenous themes in my work and several political themes that I feel is necessary to express. You can also see some connections as well to African and Latin American culture in my work as well.
Me: Do you have any particular artist who inspires you?
Luxor:When I travelled to Sao Paulo I was inspired by the work of Brazilian street artists Os Gemeos. It was the characters and figures accompanying traditional graffiti I saw on the streets of the city rather than graffiti letters that had the biggest impression on me.
Artists like Luxor are helping to expand the contemporary art scene in Buenos Aires, and there is no doubt there will be more to see by future street and graffiti artists alike in this Palermo Hollywood hidden gem. Additionally BA Street Art has an unyielding quality to continuously support the local community of artists through art tours, painting workshops, and commissions. If you would like to see more of what the BA Vault is up to or learn more about street art in Buenos Aires you should definitely check out their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at http://www.bavaultgallery.com/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org, to learn about their upcoming exhibitions. It´s to forget about the gallery one floor below the NYC Bar and Bistro, but just in case you do it’s on the corner of Arévalo at Nicaragua 6002.