David de la Mano, rue Jenner detail.
Text by Meredith Shanoski
Spanish mural artist David de la Mano’s newest commission finds itself in the heart of Paris’s 13th arrondissement. This building-sized work on rue Jenner near Nationale portrays dancing half-humans that create a massive human profile. Known for his figurative monochromatic silhouettes, the street artist often explores themes of nature and humanity. In our interview with David de la Mano he explains his poetic imagery and his mentality of staying present.
David de la Mano’s work in the 13th arrondissement.
Where do you take inspiration from as an artist?
The inspiration comes from the street, the news …everything contributes. Lately I feel inspired by ancient cultures.
Did you ever have a formal training? How did you start doing street art?
Formally I had a very traditional course: art school, a BFA and I even began doctoral courses of public art. I started painting the day I met Blu work. It was the spark that ignited a fire that lasts to this day…
Can you tell us about your process as an artist?
My work has two stages: the preparatory work at home, sketching and testing, and then work with street murals. The foreclosure process is a process of direct work and controlled “improvisation”. I trust interest to maintain the freshness of the stroke and roll but just take a previously planned and sketched idea.
The large-scale work spans the entire height of a Parisian high-rise.
Have you ever used colour in your works? Why do you use a monochromatic palette?
Yes, my beginnings were in very real mural drawings, black line and white figure. But soon I invested colours in my work until I finally stuck with the black as the only expressive element. I was using a single colour in the beginning as a practical matter, facilitating quick work and I was very focused on the idea that I wanted to represent. There is also a question of philosophy of work and non-precious representation, away from any decorative aesthetics of painting…
Your art bridges many different mediums—from paint to sculpture to digital media to tattoo design—do you prefer one medium to another?
Art is something complex and boundless, so I try not to define my work only on the wall…and try to always have my head open to new proposals and experimentation with different materials.
What is the purpose of your art? What fulfils you as an artist?
I’m interested in artistic expression, I think there is always input from others, and therefore I treat my work with respect. There is also a social side to paint and abandoned places, and I understand that it improves the environment, although I am not so naïve to think that art can solve anyone’s life but it transforms spaces.
Party animals dance toward the light ? The artist leaves his work up to interpretation.
A lot of your works create patterns of ethereal people who seem to be escaping something, or moving somewhere. What does this represent for you?
It’s a narrative device, people walking in one direction, people who have a common destiny, a collective flight, exile, searching … are many possible answers. I prefer to leave this question open so that everyone finds the explanation that best convinces the masses of people…
What do you hope to convey through your art? Does it have a bigger social message?
My work is part poetry, a reading open to multiple meanings…I am very interested in everything that has to do with today but it would be very difficult to describe my painting situations or specific problems. The murals have much to do with the present, but also with myself, with ancient cultures, with history, etc.