ARTIST OF THE WEEK: OKUDA SAN MIGUELFebruary 17, 2016
Spanish street artist, photographer and sculptor, Okuda San Miguel covers the derelict church of Santa Barbara in colourful, geometric shapes. Having stood in neglect for years, Red Bull alongside a collective called the ‘Church Brigade’ enlisted the help of Okuda San Miguel to transform the church into a public skate park called Kaos Temple. We caught up with him about his inspiration for Kaos Temple, what he loves about living and working in Madrid and what’s coming up next in 2016.
UO: Can you tell us a bit about your story so far?
I was born in Santander, Spain and started painting graffiti when I was about 27 in old factories and railway walls. I moved to Madrid in 2000 to study Fine Arts at university. I’ve always been creative and was always drawing as a child. I think I’m an artist because I need to create to be happy: it is my passion. I don’t remember actively deciding to pursue it art, it happened very naturally.
UO: You’re an artist who works across multiple mediums including sculpture, murals, and photography. Do you have a preferred medium?
I change mediums all the time. I enjoy seeing my work in 3D such as my sculptures or installations. But painting something big like a building seven or 15 floors high just tastes of freedom, and I feel like I am out of the system, out of the everyday world.
UO: Are there any themes in your work that you are repeatedly drawn to?
My work often revolves around freedom, the universe, existentialism, identity, nature, capitalism, the meaning of life…
UO: Can you tell us about the experience of working on the Kaos Temple project with Red Bull?
Red Bull is one of the best brands to work with because they respect art. They respected my work and helped me hugely with this project. We had a good relationship working together on this project.
UO: What attracted you to take on the Kaos Temple project?
Everything! I fell in love with a picture of the church that I saw on the internet. I couldn’t rest until I had painted it.
UO: What was the biggest challenge & the biggest reward of working on the project?
The biggest challenge of the project was to find funding. Thanks to all the people and brands that helped me, including Red Bull, my management agency, my assistants etc we pulled it off.
I don’t know that many artists that have the opportunity to paint a church. The best reward is having your own Sistine Chapel. The contrast between the classic architecture of the church and my contemporary colorful art impressed me after finishing it.
UO: How would you describe your artistic style in three words?
Positive, infinite, surreal.
UO: What do you love most about living and working in Madrid?
The weather, the people, the street life, the parties, the after parties, the exhibitions, the museums, the relationship with the other artists and friends that live here too, riding my bike, meeting interesting people…The list is endless.
UO: What’s your working soundtrack right now?
Ed Is Dead, Jamie Woon, Caribou, Teeel, Holly Ghost, Poolside, Jon Hopkins, Clark, Grimes, Com Truise, Kisses, Jamie XX
UO: What role does painting and art fulfill in your life?
Everything. It is like my religion; I spend all my time and all my energy in creating and thinking about new ideas to paint or to sculpt…
UO: Where do you want to take your work next?
First I’m going to do another abandoned church, (but only on the outside) in Marrakech. I am also producing some sculptures, paintings and tapestries in my Madrid studio for some different group shows in Hawaii, LA, Brussels, Madrid, China…and for my next solo shows in Kalembach Gallery, Amsterdam, and Underdogs Gallery in Lisbon. I also have some projects in the pipeline such as bags, shoes, and a piece of furniture for a collector.
See more from Okuda on Instagram