Felipe Pantone’s work is at the cutting edge of street art. Straddling conventional graffiti, typography and abstraction, his work fuses bold elements of graphic design with highly evolved geometric shapes to create an ultra-modern aesthetic which complements and reacts with the stark modernity of our cityscapes. Drawing on our concerns of the digital age and the speed at which technology is developing, Pantone’s art is like looking several light years ahead into the future and discovering a new language in which to communicate.
Pantone was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but moved to Spain with his parents in the ’90s, where he began painting. One of the founding members of the infamous D.O.C.S (Doing Only Crooked Shit) crew, Pantone gained notoriety for his radical experimentation with traditional forms of graffiti, which lead him to joining Ultra Boyz, a notorious European graffiti crew. Here, Pantone discusses his influences, body of work and what motivates his creative process.
Felipe is my real name, but Pantone isn’t my real surname so I’m at no risk if I paint outdoors illegally. I used to draw since I was a kid but as soon as I stepped into graffiti I haven’t stopped painting. I painted my first piece in 1998, as soon as I arrived in Spain with my parents (I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina). I am very interested in the type of society mankind is currently living in, in terms of communication, speed, Internet, futurism. Even though it all seems to be fucked up, I have a very optimistic vision of it, I can tell we’re getting universal and omnipresent, and that affects my graffiti, hence my way of understanding art. Universality and omnipresence are two big themes of my thinking.
I would say my key influences are José María Yturralde, Frédéric Platéus, Herb Lubalin, Sozyone Gonzalez, Steven Powers, Demsky… These are the first artists that come up to mind, but obviously I am very interested in all the arts and any type of visuals.
I did study art but it was pointless, however I really enjoyed the year I spent studying in England. My art started as a game, and I try not to take it too seriously and keep playing. Basically I keep moving without thinking too much about it, no more than trying to do my best on the thing I love the most, which is not too much of a big deal.
I did figurative art in the past, but I don’t see it as interesting anymore for me. I focused on letters, and kind of studied all about them and their endless possibilities and this is what I enjoy the most. By the way, are letters abstraction? Or figurative? Are we not representing figures here? Or if these figures were invented by us, we must be talking about abstraction? I’m still thinking about it.
You asked me about how my recent work seems engaged with space, constellations, geometry and how these elements influence my work. Well, I am very interested in the velocity of our world, traveling, universality, the future. These elements are representative of this perspective.
Location does affect the work I do. I kind of have a photographic eye, and to me it’s important the way it all looks, the artwork and the environment. Also, when you work on the streets, or paint on some private property, this affects the work. Graffiti sometimes is different to be painting in a comfortable well illuminated studio, with the specific color or materials to be chosen by the artist. Sometimes the location makes you want to run away, or it’s dark as hell…
Wuppertal, Germany, collaboration with Dems333, Sozyone
In terms of what the street art culture is like here, Valencia might be the best big city right now in Spain for street art. It is as permissive as Barcelona used to be in the last millennium. It’s quite enjoyable here.
I’m just coming from Central America and Asia, now I’m heading back to South America. That is quite different, especially for the lack of quality spray paint and that it’s all getting started over there. Regular people still aren’t sure of what you’re doing if you’re painting on a metal shutter. Everywhere else it’s all pretty much the same as at home I believe. Obviously every place has its own different essence though.
What I am planning to do in the future? Keep playing basically; I really want to do that.