We all know Hyuro for her uncanny dreamlike women. Her black-and-white characters, painted on walls around the world, offered us a distinct narrative of what surrounds us. We reached Tamara during one of her usual busy days, for a nice chat about the current state of her art, and the awareness of the importance of a public artwork.
Hello Tamara, how are you doing these days? Are you preparing something new?
Fine, thanks! In these days I’m taking some time to focus and explore my work. I’m taking a break that most of the time it’s so difficult to take.
I really liked your most recent wall in Poggibonsi, Italy. It seems a new step in one of your recurring themes about woman’s rule and “house caring”. Would you like to tell me something more about it?
The mural I painted in Poggibonsi is one of the walls of an elderly residence. The message doesn’t have any feminist connotation. The image speaks metaphorically about life, the woman weaving a blanket with which she is covered refers to the work of years lived, and that feeling of warmth and well-being that comes with life experience. It is not the first time that my works are approached with a feminist interpretation. I do not feel very comfortable with labels or the idea of thematically classifying the work of an artist. You know, we move within a similar message, but it keeps changing, or at least I hope it does. On the other hand I do not consider myself as a militant feminist, my life choices make me a feminist, but this doesn’t mean that all my works are focused on it. I am a woman, mother, housewife, lover, friend and a professional, it is from this set of roles that most of my inspiration arises. The idea of “woman” plays an important role in my work, not only from her gender status, but also from her human condition, is the role that I know best and from which I can speak most honestly.
The concept of home, turned into hens which protect and cage us at the same time, is a vibrant topic through your production. Could you describe the urgency of telling this story?
I’m not sure that this has arisen as an urgency. I do not usually schedule a line of work, I rather move within everyday life, through the circumstances that come my way and the reality that surrounds me. Issues arise naturally. Some of them are born from personal conflicts, an internal search to know and understand myself while dealing with different situations, while others come from realities that I experience as an observer, and somehow they generate internal movements, generating my need to talk about them and participate from a personal perception. The issue of women is recurrent in my work; it’s my reality. Considering that I have two small children, I relate to many mothers, housewives, workers, and professionals, issues that are very present in this moment of my life. I am attentive, observing and listening. The rest comes alone, and I do not question it, I just let it go. If it appears it is because there are issues that somehow are still affecting me and I feel the need to talk about them.
This year, following the controversy that was generated with an intervention I did for the ̈ International Day of Working Women ̈ representing the housewife in 24 different images, images taken of myself and my own housework, I was surprised with the reading and the reaction of so many women. I became aware that if we still feel offended against such images of housework it is because there is still an unresolved conflict. This made me return to subjects that were no longer so present. An year an a half ago, I started a project that fell by the wayside. It was about gathering a regular daily schedule, as detailed as possible, of mothers and housewives and or professionals. I asked them to keep a journal of their activities from when they woke up until they went back to sleep. Several of the women who were asked to do this writing didn’t complete it, because as they began to write they became aware of the short time they were engaged in themselves, and this feeling scared them.
I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of emptiness and loneliness that shines from your subjects. There’s an odd power that crushes your characters and at the same time it pushes them through their own destiny. Is it just a social complaint or is it more your immanent vision?
I believe it combines a little of everything, some personal approaches and some social criticism. On the other hand it reflects the strength of the human being in being able to succeed under any circumstances. My life hasn’t been particularly characterised by comfort and stability, in part because of circumstances that I had to go through, and also because of my own decisions. I think that beyond the fact that we could be accompanied in one way or another, we live all our life experiences from the perspective of loneliness. On the other hand the emptiness and loneliness that are reflected in my work in some way are the opposition to the constant pollution of information, advertising and entertainment in which we are immersed. I think there is some fear of facing the void and loneliness which I consider important in order to find ourselves.
Your murals have always had a strong concept, I think the evidence is clear since they work both on a small and on a large scale. It’s not so obvious nowadays, since we see a lot of huge walls that would not be so impressive painted on a regular canvas. What’s your point of view about scales?
There is some struggle of egos with the dimensions of the walls, but anyway there are artists who their techniques, forms or message asks the large format. It is clear that large-scale messages impact people differently, and in some cases I think we need the oversized images to represent reality. Personally, in my latest works I began to test the scaling for different reasons, first because I needed a change, a breath of fresh air and, on the other hand, to know how my work responds in a different scale. Is by keep trying and playing that you get to know yourself in the process, then you make the decision to see in which field you feel more comfortable.
Go back for a moment to your beginnings, what was your urgency in starting painting on the walls outside, and what did you find during this process?
It’s curious how everything evolved in a natural way, without thinking things were linked. I used to paint on canvas, which was slowly becoming more focused towards social issues. At the time I was preparing my master degree project I met Escif, who turned out to be my teacher and great friend during the years that followed, he was the one who introduced me into the streets world, which turned out to be the ideal place to continue with my project. Suddenly the street took a new sense, from being a place of transit to be a workspace. I’m interested in the idea of appropriation of public space in any format, whether mural painting, installation, performance, any alternative infrastructure or project that involves citizen participation. The idea of building our city, with our own discourse, understanding it as a communication, creation and experimental space, seems to me an interesting alternative that escapes from the system.
And what about now, what pushes you through your art, what’s the engine power of your motivation?
The last five years of experience brought me awareness of the responsibility we have with our work on public places and in different parts of the world, understanding art as a tool to bring out the change, to communicate and share ideologies, a different path to build bridges, break down boundaries and generate dialogues that are grown from the bottom. As I feel I contribute with my minimum daily life actions to what I believe, I see my job as another form of contribution.
Nowadays you paint for renowned commissions and during excellent festivals, are you still, or have you ever been, interested in the illegal part of the game? Are you still tempted on going outside without any permission?
Besides the pleasure of doing this activity, going out painting turned out to be a necessity. All the interventions done in Valencia were illegal, and the only reason I didn’t paint this last year was due to lack of time. 2014 ended up being a crazy year among travels mixed with the time I share with my children. I finished the year with a mental fatigue and the urge to give a twist to my work. I found no sense in going out painting without really knowing what I wanted to paint. It is the value of the quality against quantity, and to allow a pause when your work is asking for that.
In recent years I have heard a lot of opinions about street art. Some people think it’s the greatest artistic revolution of the last 50 years, others consider it a bubble ready to deflate. What do you think?
It is clear that urban art had its heyday, but I am quite positive when it comes to this point, I think there are several parallel projects to the ̈ Street Art Show ̈ side that are emerging and moving away from market demands, focusing more on social causes or cultural purposes without lucrative interests. I do not think this will end, but it will certainly change forms. The art on the streets is a powerful way of communication to die.
Tell me three artists you admire at the moment, who do you think are doing remarkably well?
I admire many artists for different reasons, and I find it difficult to find all in one. Also I am not sure I can be objective with the answer, as I personally know a number of them and have them a special affection, therefore their work comes to me differently. However I can tell you what I like more from different artists, I like the bond established between Elian Chali’s work and the wall, I like the elegance of Aryz’s works and I like the sincere dialog of Axel Void’s works with the context .
Quick reply. Something you’ve always wanted to do, but have yet to.
As a quick answer I would say nothing. I’m doing what I want, and I am living the life that I have chosen. Now, if you raise proposals I could talk you about each one; it’s like when you ask a child which toy he would like to have, it takes him a while to answer you, but if you put him in front of a TV advertisements and you return to the same question, in less than 10 seconds he will tell you about 20 different toys he suddenly wants. I feel I have what I want right now, living from what I do is what I always wanted, the rest will come in time. I try not to run after things, I simply stands firm in what is my discipline of work, I have learned that to accelerate the process of things doesn ́t make sense.
Something you would like to see in this world before dying.
I do not question things that far ahead, I try to live day to day.
One overrated and one underrated thing in our daily life.
The system and all that it implies is overrated, and what is underestimated is our ability to live outside it.
What’s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?
So far in August I will be painting in Italy, in September I have a couple of events in France, after that we will see…