Suso33

INTERVIEW

How would you describe your contribution to the Truck Art Project?

The proposal has prompted me to generate several possible readings based on its different receivers. Besides an initial appearance that was simply plastic and direct, it was important that it should have an aesthetic or intellectual content, but at the same time that each piece could be different depending on the receiver, helping each viewer to create their own. The title of the set is Sky’s The Limit, but the contribution on the right-hand side of the truck is called End to End, and the one on the left Whole Car. I’ve tried to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the support to suggest possible readings through both the form and the content, although in this specific case they may be analogous and invert their meaning, since the support is a container in motion. Rather than a simple painting, I’ve also tried to enable it to lend value to the object functioning as a support, as if it were possible to see not only what lies on top of it but also what it carries inside it.

How do the two sides of the truck engage in dialogue?

Seen on one side is a group of anthropomorphic forms in different colours that go from one end to the other (End to End). On the other, another large similar group, also in different colours, thinned out and cramped for space, gradually lose their individual form and fade away, generating a splash of colours (Whole Car). This evokes the trains that had gas chambers inside them but were decorated on the outside with cheerful motifs (Sky’s The Limit). In their turn, the three titles, for anyone familiar with the purest graffiti, bear many meanings that can only be recognised with a knowledge of that culture. They are a tribute to the people at the origins of the discipline who did street paintings on subway carriages that were moving all over the city. As it is impossible to see both sides of the truck at the same time, the work has a character that is, if not sculptural, one of a dialogue and relationship with the space and, in turn, with the context. Since there is no possibility of a parallel view of the two pieces, the time it takes you to go round the vehicle and see the other side makes them follow each other like a story.

What do you see as the challenges of the project?

By and large, I haven’t seen any. It’s been something that’s developed according to plan and has inspired me with more ideas for the future.

How does this project fit into your artistic development and discourse?

Also in a natural way, since anyone who knows my work will see that it continues it. Some artists admit they arrived with a preconceived idea which they then had to modify, or which grew in other directions when they were confronted with a support like this.

Was that your case?

In principle, I haven’t had to confront anything that forced me to make concessions with my own work. What did happen was that I took advantage of the peculiarity of the project, once I was there painting, to propose the possibility of involving the whole staff of the firm that was supporting the project. That way, it wouldn’t be simply arriving, painting and leaving, and ‘human art’ could be made once more. In a few hours, I got coloured clothing and overalls from other performances I had done some time before, I offered anyone who wanted to the chance to put them on, without trying to oblige anyone, and they all decided to take part and play at art with me. We were experimenting with them as if they had come out of the painting with their coloured clothes, generating a living painting, and we were playing, making a happening. I think it was a good experience among us all.

How have you envisaged the reception of a work like this one, which is found rather than sought out by the spectator, and which doesn’t circulate through the usual artistic channels?

Besides the reception of the work by the context or the space, I thought about the time necessary for that purpose, as the ‘encounter’ of the work with the viewer is limited. And I found it very interesting that something in a context or space that apparently makes it accessible to any passer-by should be limited to temporary exhibition.

And the fleetingness of its reception?

I’ve worked precisely on that by offering an initial visual reading of the work in the distance, as an indefinite moving splash of colours, and another from close up, as defined anthropomorphic forms. Moreover, it’s something I’ve enjoyed experimenting with more explicitly in other works.

How did you tackle the scale? Were you used to it?

Yes. I’m very used to that scale. I’ve painted backdrops for the opera of the size of the tarpaulins on the truck, and even bigger, since I was very young. And murals as well, of course.

What do you get out of participating in a project like this, and what do you think you contribute to it?

I don’t really know, but it’s made me want to keep trying out more things, since several ideas have remained on the drawing board, without my being able to develop them and experiment with them, since I was only able to work on a single lorry. I imagine that the way someone with a career like mine can contribute to the project is by helping to give it legitimacy, though the idea might sound ostentatious. I think that when we’re talking about public space, and in particular the street and paintings on mobile supports like carriages, trucks and backdrops, it’s all something that I represent.

What’s the interesting thing about a project like the Truck Art Project?

I don’t know, but someone like me, who’s experienced and lived artistic creation not only in the public space but in the street and on mobile supports, appreciates the almost fortuitous ‘encounter’ with the artwork, and the magical moment of that ‘encounter’ makes it an interesting and vivid experience.

SUSO33 (Madrid, 1973), a visual artist who was a precursor of iconographic graffiti in Spain, is regarded as one of the great figures of urban art and muralism in this country. Artistically active from an early age, he has gone beyond the limits of the streets to venture into other territories like painting, video and happenings and performance. His creative process must be understood as imbued with a strong commitment to the social environment. Among the artist’s favourite themes are emotion, the body, existential doubts, the value of ephemeral art and a constant preoccupation with social injustice and the neglect of the outcast. During his long artistic career, SUSO33 has carried out muralist interventions at the 13th Havana Biennial and has produced highly praised set designs for institutions like the Teatro Real opera house, the Spanish National Dance Company and the Madrid City Council. However, to encounter the work of SUSO33 at its purest, a personal language of dynamic bodies and spirals that even spills over the limits of street art, it is best to head for the streets. Nobody can forget the retrospective organised for him in 2015 by the CEART – Centro de Arte Tomás y Valiente in Fuenlabrada, curated by Susana Blas.