Mexican street artist, Saner, made a fleeting visit to New Zealand early this year to exhibit and paint a mural in downtown Auckland. It took us a few months, but we finally tracked him down and got the inside on his potent, colourful and iconographic artworks.
Interview by Sean Duffell
Please explain where you’re from exactly and what directly inspires you to create your imagery?
I am Saner. I’m Mexican and live in Mexico DF. In Coyoacán to be exact. The inspiration for my work comes from many places, it can be from the the day to day, recent happenings, trips and new places to discover, but especially the culture of my country; its color, folklore and traditions that don’t judge based on social status. Many of us celebrate the same festivities, some of which are on the verge of extinction.
There’s obviously a strong narrative within your work, do these narratives have a particular underlying theme or are they site specific, political messages or more of a personal projection from your thoughts?
My works are moved by various thematic channels, more often than not it is with a social purpose, others for political purposes or personal purposes. Of course it depends very much on what this happening at the time. I like to work on daily happenings. Although, what really unites all of these themes together is that I always look to generate a relationship with the viewer so they can take my work and have it become part of their life, to generate a collective work of art because they ultimately may never come back to the site.
Colour is a huge part in any artists work and you mainly use very vivid/bright colour palettes. Is there any particular reason for these colour combinations?
Colors come as the love for particular flavors or moods comes. Often we have favourite colors, but you should never pass on the opportunity to experiment with something new. It’s like getting out of my home to go somewhere, you find yourself surrounded by a vast multitude of tones in the streets, marketplaces and everywhere you can imagine, is quite an explosion of visual flavours and you can just begin to imagine how you can adapt it your work and generate pieces that have a visual balance and make them an experience for those who watch.
Describe the steps you take within the process of creating one of your works?
The creative process always begins with the investigation of the subject, location, customs of the piece that I will create. After this search, I start drawing sketches and then choose a range of possible colors. I don’t set up something specific because I like working with improvised colors, as if each of those characters chooses what they want to be wearing at the time. After this I start to look for a particular icon that can help people become one with my work.
New York fats or a trusty paint brush?
Both are good, everything depends on the context and the size.
You create a huge range of work using a diverse range of mediums, which is the most enjoyable for you to use?
Aerosol for public spaces, ink for gallery pieces.
And what’s been the most challenging medium over the years?
Video mapping. It’s a piece that requires working together with a team, but ultimately creates an amazing show. Moving murals, it’s a dream come true.
What medium haven’t you used before that you would really like experiment with in the future?
New technology calls my attention and I’m working on it – I’m closely working with a team of professionals.
How was your brief visit to New Zealand and have you spent much time here before?
It was my first time in New Zealand, and of course, it was quite an experience. The people were very nice, the weather was different, and above all you have much respect for nature and culture. We had the opportunity to visit Waiheke and see some beautiful landscapes around Auckland. I want to come back someday, without a doubt.
Tell us about the project you worked on in Auckland recently?
I was invited by the Pacifico Beer company to create a mural with my vision and an exhibition, this as an activation and to create a different experience.
The mural is inspired by our trip to New Zealand and our journey through life. The characters and symbols, like the driver with the jade mask represent all those who face new experiences and take challenges that make them lose their fears regardless of the outcome of things, always guided by reason and trust (the house and the kiwi on the tip of the spear).
If you could drop everything and travel to one specific destination where would that be and why?
It’s not clear to me at this moment, but without a doubt, a job that had to do with travel, because seeing new places and different people gives us a very different outlook on life.