Meet The Artist: David de la Mano
Editorial / Artists

Meet The Artist: David de la Mano

12 Nov 2017

‘Adrift’ is your inaugural London solo show at Hang-Up and we're super excited. We have some questions for you to get an insight into your workings...

We are looking forward to the transformation of the gallery for ‘Adrift’. Can you tell us more about what you are planning for the installation?

My idea is to paint the walls and some windows to go with the canvases and drawings. I do like installations, but on this occasion, I would like to make a simple presentation in which the actual works prevail over the rest.

We know you are an avid traveller - Does ‘Adrift’ resonate as a biographical theme?

Adrift is very personal but also comes from observations and critiques. In general, I try to keep the balance between these two opposites with my work.

Do you have any recurring and important characters and do they have a significant part to play?

In my work, as a result of the method I use (direct painting), there’re many recurring characters, almost like a mantra and I believe this is more related to my subconscious that to my conscious side.

As an example, men and women rarely appear together in the same compositions. There’re plenty of bird-men, dog-men or wolf-men. Another recurrent character could be the women with roots.

Florencia Varela PHD. Professor of Aesthetics has spoken about placing ‘women as protagonists since they lay a fundamental role in the care and support of their families and communities’ in your work. How far do you agree with this?

Yes, totally. On this occasion, the woman has great relevance.

Why do you choose to work mostly in monochrome?
The truth is that it started as something that would allow me to paint more freely. As time went by, I searched for new reasons. From a practical point of view, it allows me to work faster and to make more complex compositions that otherwise would take much longer.

Above: David de la Mano mural in Uruguay

Above: David de la Mano mural in Florida

Can you expand on using coffee as a medium? Do you use a specific brand?

To me painting is a day to day thing - intimate sometimes...I love coffee, it accompanies me through the day, I share it, it takes part in my routines and also in my work. Its colour is warm, it’s easy to get and it’s always available...

When I was a student at the Fine Arts University, every time I would order a coffee, I would leave some to paint…haha. Also, its colour remains me of the streets of Salamanca, where I’m from.

I drink any coffee (always with no sugar) but to paint, I always use Nescafe - a habit I guess haha

Above: David de la Mano mural in Salamanca
Acrylic and ink are two of your preferred mediums – Can you tell us more about your choices of medium and if they relate to your concept?
I found acrylic and ink interesting because they allow me to explore new surfaces/supports…metal, wood, marble, glass, etc…
Chinese ink has been always my soft spot, it fascinates me to work with it and its ideal to drawing and for small works…
There is a haunting and dystopian feel to the faceless figures that travel across the canvas or paper - What inspires you most when you create the crowds?

I feel part of human crowds; I think we are all part of them.

I found inspiration in the larger people movements: social, migratory, historical…
My representation of these human crowds allows recognising groups in different states. Although, somehow it dehumanises each single individual as they only make sense as part of the group…
The last time we collaborated was in 2015. You and Hang-Up Gallery produced a limited-edition print; ‘El Hoyo’. We are now in the process of publishing ‘Border Event’ with our master printer, Diego. ‘Border Events’ is an edition of 35, all hand finished and 10% of the sale will go to Refugee Community Kitchen. A charity that has cooked every day, 7 days a week since 1st of December 2015 to provide hot meals to refugees.
Do you have any charities close to your heart or that you work with?
I have worked with several ONGs, in Chicago, Ruanda and also Montevideo. Also, I feel very close to Sylvie Schmitz who organise “ spray against cancer”

Above: 'Border Events' limited edition published by Hang-Up Pictures
The idea of mass movement and crowds are a major theme in your work. Is there a particular motivation for this? What are your thoughts on art as an aid to raise awareness and donations? Do you feel that artist could do more to raise awareness about the current crisis through their practice?
I’ve been leaving in Montevideo(Uruguay) for 5 years. I’m an immigrant and probably that has an impact on my work.

Picasso painted El Guernica to portray the horror of the Spanish Civil War. So how can we not condemn what is happening nowadays?

I believe my work is closer to the poetic side, it’s not literal…I have tried to answer, sometimes more successfully than others, to questions that have worried me at some point.

I believe politicians are the ones who really can do more. From my humble position: I wish artists could get a better result with our work.

Do you feel differently towards your street work and your studio artworks? How do the processes differ?

They are two separate things. Each has its own characteristics and its own language. The studio works are generally more “direct”. Murals are more thought through and need previous preparation as there are always different factors that will reflect on the design and execution.

Above: David de la Mano and Pablo S Herrera

What came first, creating your street art or fine art? Is there a specific point you remember feeling the need to create?

Drawing came first, at home. And for many years it was only studio works, drawing, stains, the shapes…The work on the street came around 20 years ago - it wasn't actually painted but sculpting projects. There’re many remaining in Salamanca, Talavera de la Reina and Madrid.

Street Art and murals came up by chance, and it was love at first sight!

Above: David de la Mano in Poland

What films and music inspire you?

About music: I’m quite eclectic, classic, heavy metal…even flamenco

About cinema: Lars Von Trier, Almodovar, Cohen Brothers…

We know that you are a big fan of street artist BLU. Would you credit him to have had a major impact in your artistic career?

If I’m into the street art or mural is because of him. He was my first inspiration. I don’t think my work is inspired by his work though, but I do believe he’s one of the main street artist's nowadays and I have great admirations and respect for his work.

Above: Blu in Berlin

You have recently finished a huge mural in Berlin for the Urban Nation exhibition. The world first major institution to street art. How does it feel to be a part of urban art history?

I feel very proud of that mural, although the fact that it was a whole building and filled up with small windows was really a big challenge. I really enjoyed painting for UN, especially because I had the chance to be with old colleagues and celebrate with them.

Above: David de la Mano in Berlin

What is the most memorable street piece you have made and why?

I’m very proud of the last mural I did at the El Cerro neighbourhood/barrio in Montevideo. It’s a wall for a school and I did in collaboration with Yesmina, a 12 years old girl. She was very excited and I had so much fun working with her, we created a very fresh piece!

Thank you, David! We can't wait for the show next week.

If you haven't already please RSVP on our Facebook page or click here and request the catalogues!

David de la Mano | Adrift | Private view 23 November 2017 | 6-9pm

If you have any questions or queries, we would love to hear from you.

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Call us: 020 3667 4550

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