Interview by Rallito X
Where does your name come from?
Mario Mankey summarises the underlying contradiction between human and primate.
When do you start making art?
I decided to fully focus on my art in 2010; I thought about what I wanted to say and, watching my past work I discovered the common points that revealed my discourse. From that moment, I concentrated on distilling my discourse into my work, experimenting with languages, mediums, and materials. The present result is a product of all those experiences.
Why do you decide to use public spaces as the framework to develop your work?
Street art was the best way for me to establish relationships, because I never stopped doing what I liked the most. Creating is how I best communicate, and intervening in public spaces makes that easy.
Is there any artistic movement you identify with or you think your work could belong to?
I guess, even though I feel labels usually become gravestones, that I could be included in Street Art.
In your last paintings, pink takes the front stage - what does pink mean to you?
Frivolous pink. I think it perfectly summarises the largest portion of modern society.
Sometimes, your work seems to be influenced by comic books. Is that so?
Of course! Comic books and cartoons were my introduction to art. There was a time I rejected that influence, I thought my work didn't look like what I thought art looked like back then. But, at the end of the day, I am the child of a globalised, post-modern world. I don't think the past should give us a complex about that. In my work you can see influences from manga, American comics, and the "ligne claire" school. Aesthetics as a whole reflects the current circumstances put through the lens of one's own personality.
If you had to define your art with a single word, what would that be?
I like working on the constant dissatisfaction between desires and reality. Drawing inspiration from my personal experience as well as from the lives I see.
I want to explore beyond profitability; painting gives you the chance to explore the infinite, and I want to dive into as many worlds as possible, trying to keep my essence. Change helps you feel alive. The messages that define some of your works are somewhat confusing. What's your goal? My work is just a mirror, the pieces are like that because I am like that too; I like perplexing, confusing, provoking a game that kickstarts a dialogue with the audience. You can't ignore the spectator's view either, but I think laying it out too easy would be an insult to the work, as well as to the audience's time and intelligence. I have created the most comfortably when I have foregone any respect towards the work, art, and the audience, and even to myself; right now I think that confusion is the path that opens up the best creative possibilities. You had a name in the, let's say old school graffiti world, and suddenly you broke away from everything and re-invented yourself despite knowing you would probably be misunderstood. What brought about that change? I was just honest. Graffiti taught me a lot and created so many good memories with great people, but I was too conditioned when I painted. I wanted to paint more freely, I changed radically, and a few years later I changed again, maturing and mixing both eras. You had a period where women and their submission to the established beauty standards were of great importance. Why was that? Well, I think the fuel that drives an artist is their obsessions. In that moment, the energy some of the women in my life put towards fitting into this beauty canon had a huge impact on me. And of course I found that disturbing, and it made me feel bad. Art was the most attractive way to work through my feelings. Why did you choose Berlin? I was greatly affected by the situation in Spain. I needed fresh air, and enough distance to be able to work on that. Berlin is a city that satisfied my curiosity with an affordable cost of living. Do you believe your work in the streets and the one you carry out in the studio have a common background or do you see them as separate projects? One wouldn't exist without the other. But what I can tell you is that, on the street, you have to adapt to whichever medium, space, and time frame are available; and all of that will heavily influence the work. I used to improvise a lot, I would go out without a draft and painted what the wall inspired me in that moment, appreciating any subconscious sign. However, now when I start a mural painting I do it based on a project I created in the studio, a space that allows me to be more pensive. Thinking what colours and shapes are best to convey the concept. When I am on the street, I use constructs and ideas that I have discovered in my studio, and vice versa. I get the feeling that your work is not easy to read and sometimes it even comes across as shrill. Why is that? I just channel what I see. If my work is shrill, it is because that is what reality inspires me. Where do you see yourself in five years? I might think about that in five years.
Mario Mankey - Rallito X