Valencia is a beautiful city with architecturally diverse areas, from the old buildings in the centre to the newer-buildings in the surrounding suburbs. Wherever you go in Valencia the art fits the neighbourhood. In the centre of Valencia young artists like Cere and Escif adorn the beautiful old buildings with their fine detail work. We catch up with Cere, whose intricate work is unmistakeably Spanish and blends in beautifully with the city. Cere’s work has evolved dramatically over last few years and he explains the meanings behind his art.
Click below for a slideshow of Cere’s work, including Cere’s own photos of his new work and examples of his older work from the GSA archives.
Cere and There
My full name is Miguel Maestro Cerezo, also known as Cere (which is short for Cherry in Spanish). Using my full name is the best tribute I can give my family. My mother once told me that I had to keep painting to preserve my family name, so here I am.
I’m originally from Burgos, a small city near the Basque Country (North Spain). There was nowhere to study art in my hometown so I moved to Alicante when I was 17 (although my parents thought it was to party). Later I moved to Valencia to keep studying and years later I’m still here!
I started tagging my name at school and sketching letters. At fifteen I met other kids at school who were into graffiti. My house was near Renfe: a paradise of abandoned warehouses where we would hang out with other writers and practice new styles. Later I painted trains and any other surface I could. I have good memories of those years in Burgos; experimentation with letters and characters opened my mind to a whole new World.
At first I only painted on the street but as I matured and learned more I started working with digital graphics, installations, large paintings and toys. I love to work and learn with my hands. I’ve learned a lot from both the streets and from school.
Today I paint mostly in the historic centres of Valencia, in central neighbourhoods like Carmen and Velluters but also in poor parts of town like Cabanyal (East Valencia, on the sea front). The earth looks worn and there are boarded-up doors, which make good natural frames for my pieces. I like to paint in abandoned buildings a lot but I also paint for people on their houses.
In my opinion Valencia is the new Barcelona (Barcelona city was an international haven for graffiti and street art before the whitewash campaign of 2004-5 onwards). Valencia is a haven for graffiti artists. If you paint with respect ordinary people will love what you do because it gives them culture for free, in the streets. People appreciate and value graffiti here more than in other cities. Until I came to Valencia my attitude was to paint quickly and then flee so I didn’t get caught. Valencia isn’t like this – you have more time to paint here.
Many artists in Valencia are influenced by illustration (as well as in other cities) and those styles integrate well with the city and the city’s architecture.
Cere with Escif in Valencia, photo taken in 2011
My style reflects how I feel at a given time and how I relate to the streets. When I was painting wolves they were a rebellious way of portraying what I saw in my neighborhood; it was a fun way of claiming the streets as ours. I am currently working with the theme of “Shushi of Burgos,” which is a black pudding that is a typical part of cooking in Burgos. I used only black and white in most of the pudding of Burgos pieces, not only for aesthetic reasons but to reflect that this art represents my drawings. The series relates to where I grew up.
There is always a social meaning in art and anyone who says otherwise is lying! With the “Shushi of Burgos” series I’m marking a cultural shift towards the local, towards returning to the traditional, highlighting the remoteness and superficiality of the current scene. Globalization has made us stay connected and informed, but has also slowly beheaded localism. It’s a shame to forget our origins; to be someone in the World you have to know where you are and that where you come from.
You never know where you’ll end up! This year I have prepared a series of large pieces with the artist Lolofónico for galleries in Europe. I like to travel for free and I think this [i.e. exhibiting] may be a good option. As Anthony Burril said: work hard and be nice to people.
OTHER ARTISTS MENTIONED
· Lolofonico: www.lolofonico.com