Colourful and Wild
April 21st 2017
When Zosen and Mina met for the first time in 2011 at a workshop in Barcelona, one thing was immediately clear to both of them: We have to work together. Since then, they have been travelling around the world painting artworks on large walls. And we can all be thankful. Because their vibrantly colourful mural pieces, which are created spontaneously and intuitively, are simply one of a kind.
“We like things colourful and wild and never work with outlines. Colours and forms should flow into one another seamlessly and create a harmonious whole in the end,” says Zosen. We liked the sound of this and flew the two artists to Buenos Aires to breathe new life into an old house wall.
How did you decide to become a street artist or when did you know “That’s what I want to do!”?
Zosen: I started to paint graffiti in 1990. I spent a lot of time in the streets, skating, exploring, painting, etc. Since then, I’ve never stopped painting on the streets and then later at different studios. I learned from the old-school writers from my ‘hood, I painted trains and did my first trips outside Spain during the ‘90s. I was also involved in some squats and alternative projects; I always mix different cultural scenes. In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, I was painting different stuff on the streets – more primitive, experimental, and colourful. Then the labels post-graffiti, street art, and the like came about. And they have lasted until now.
Mina Hamada: After high school, I went to art and design school. I studied illustration and design. I wanted to make children’s picture books. I don’t think I was a very good student, but I made many friends from different places in Japan, and they had good energy and creative minds. So I learned many things from them. After art school, I went to Mexico for three months. It was a special experience for me to see many different cultures and it opened my mind. After I came back to Japan, I worked at a company called Gendai Koubou, which handled window displays and designs. The work was very hard, but I learned a lot of important things about how to do things in a professional way. I also started painting, drawing, and making books on my own, and started to have a location to show my works. And at the end of 2009, I moved to Barcelona, where I spent the first year studying Spanish. In 2010, I had many good friends painting murals, graffiti, and doing art. With them, I started to paint murals little by little. And I also started to do exhibitions in Barcelona. Then I met Zosen, and we started collaborating.
Did you work as a duo from the beginning?
Zosen: In the fall of 2011, I met Mina at a workshop I was doing for the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and we started to paint murals together.
Mina Hamada: The first time we met, Zosen found out that I paint murals, so he invited me to paint with him at his studio in Poblenou-Barcelona
Mina Hamada: It came naturally. When we started collaborating, we never talked about “how we should paint together”. At first, I was little bit shy, I painted small stuff and used softer colours. But as I got more experienced, we found a good combination to make things more fun for both of us, and were able to go about it in a very natural way, without thinking so much. Normally, we don’t make a plan before painting. We enjoy the process of improvisation. Because it makes things more interesting for us: We can enjoy the coincidences and surprises we discover ourselves.
Zosen: We like colours and free forms. We combine our shapes without sketches, in a natural and wild way. Sometimes it’s hard at the beginning of the mural, but after a while we find the direction we want. We never know how our mural will look before we start it. Being spontaneous and fresh is our key ;)
What was especially appealing about working with Wever & Ducré and how did this come about?
We felt that Wever & Ducré has an open mind and a clear vision for art and design. It was also interesting to work with a different kind of art than we normally do. We had some expectations about the mix of their spirit and our style. We also think that their production and image is very cool, so we wanted to see how it would mix with our colours.
What theme or underlying motivation is behind the work you created for W&D?
Normally, we work a lot with improvisation when we do collaborative pieces. We like to mix colours and adapt our style to the surface we’re painting, in this case an old house in the Palermo Viejo district of Buenos Aires. The motivation was to create something colourful and fresh that combined various lamps with our own style. We used many shapes, details, and forms until we finally finished the composition.
What role does light play in your work?
Light is everywhere! We use white colour as a light and then it becomes part of the background for many of our murals. Also with the other colours we use, the relationship with light is so important. Our murals are a kind of puzzle, and every piece needs a good colour combination because we don’t use outlines. Every colour and light needs to flow naturally.
What kind of wall would you really like to design/paint one day?
The wall of a swimming pool, where we could enjoy painting it and then go swimming there afterwards! The wall of a small house in the jungle, where we could live.