Street Art piece
Street Art Museum Amsterdam
Also known as "El Pez"
A true innovator and self-taught artist, Pez is recognised as one of the first to twist the text of his tag “PEZ” into the ubiquitous smiling blue fish now smiling from the train tracks and derelict corners of Spain, to art fairs and high-profile commissioned walls around the world. In his ‘former life’ Pez worked as a software developer. Although this offered him a dynamic outlet for creativity, Pez found office life staid and stifling in comparison to the endlessly more creative, adventurous, and adrenaline-blasted world of graffiti, in which he was dabbling at the time. Since finding his home on the streets, Pez has spent the last twenty years painting around the world with friends, adapting and reinventing his fish in constantly evolving ways that may call to mind Keith Haring, American Pop, or the “all-overness” of the action painters. Always seeking new possibilities for innovation, new collaborations and fresh ideas, Pez’s smiling fish can be seen popping up on badges, bags, toys, belts, t-shirts and now digitally in extended realities, from imaginary to augmented. He has been included in numerous documentaries including Bomb It-The Movie, Muros Libres/ Free Walls, A Primer on Urban Painting, and most famously, Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop. Pez is widely published in graffiti and street art magazines and books including Street Logos, Ultimate Street Art, The Art of Rebellion, Carnet de Rue, by French artist J.R., Graffiti and Street Art, and NYC BCN: Street Art Revolution. Pez has also collaborated with numerous high-profile brands including Adidas, Toyota, Reebok, Ecko Unltd and Dictador.
Jan de Louterstraat
Good / Legible
The artwork, that covers the whole side facade of the building, is 15 meters high and 9 meters wide. It depicts in the center of the wall a take on the Vermeer’s famous Milkmaid, which is now 9 meters tall and hangs in front of a “Warhol-ian” wallpaper made of smiling blue Macaw birds (in Spanish - Guacamayas) – a specie of bird very representative of South America’s fauna. However each one of the artists used the spray in different ways: Recal used it to achieve a photorealistic style on the making of the milkmaid and El Pez used it in a more traditional graffiti style of clean lines filled-in with flat colours, in the making of the Macaws.The two different cultures and contrasting styles used by the artists are tied together by the color scheme of blues and yellows, having the famous ‘cornflower blue’ of Vermeer as the main inspiration. The mural boasts many symbolisms woven into the composition and is seen as a commentary on the contemporary state of things. For example, in the right corner of the mural, the top Macaw has a smiling fish placed inside its eye. This is an attribute added because the smiling fish is El Pez’s worldwide signature. Pez actually means fish, in spanish, and that is why he created the character to represent himself as a graffiti artist. El Pez appears making his fish in the Oscar nominated documentary “Exit through the Gift Shop”, by the elusive Banksy. The Macaws themselves are also a version of the original smiling fish, that are in this case transformed into birds. The Milkmaid part of the composition also has many symbolisms. She is positioned in the center of a yellow frame, having her head and skirt coming outside of this frame - a symbolic representation that all great masters think outside of the box. In the original artwork by Vermeer, behind the Milkmaid are kitchen utensils hanging on the wall, whereas in our case - it is a small canvas with a ‘street art work’ on it. This is another joke with a few twists. One being that Street Art is SAMA’s kitchen utensil to cook a soup of dialogue between all our local stakeholders - the Mondriaan Heritage.
The mural occupies a side wall of an apartment building next to canal. It depicts a portrait of a woman pouring milk from a vessel in a golden frame. The woman dressed in traditional clothes in ochre and green, wearing a crisp linen cap and a dark blue apron. The woman's figure stands out to the forefront and her dark blue clothing draperies overhang the frame. The background that surrounds the frame depicts smiling one-eyed cartoonish characters.
This composition was chosen by Pez because the original idea of the artwork came from an international project between Colombia and The Netherlands by Vertigo Graffiti, therefore the piece is representative of the 2 cultures: The Milkmaid referring to the Dutch cultural heritage and the Macaws referring to the Colombian natural heritage.Both artists used in the making of the piece the classic freestyle spray technique, meaning that there were no other tools used and also no sketch, projection or grids made to guide the painting process - it is just the spray can and your ability to control it. This is an inherent technique for both artists, having in mind their long time experience with graffiti.