A NEVER ENDING STORY ABOUT AMSTERDAM, STREET ART & PARIS - FACES & SPACES - RICARDO MOSTE


After we came back from Paris, Moste stayed in Amsterdam to put his arty touch to SAMA’s agenda until November. We had occasions to collide again, and to chat about collaborations to come for our Mexican Genius seemed to will sticking with us.

On a regular afternoon, as we are at SAMA’s gallery, preparing a workshop for the Amsterdam 750th Birthday Party in collaboration with Museum om de Hoek, I get a chance to have a good talk with him for the atmosphere is more intimate and quiet.

While he is fixing a large greeting card style scroll, preparing the main room and giving a think about activities organisation, I try to lend a (clumsy) hand to the process, ready to take advantage of the cool vibe to ask further questions going on my mind for a while; we had of course various chances to exchange during Paris trip, but as the whole crew had always to rush from here to there, working hard daily, finding solutions, adapting constantly to the changing situations, it was quite difficult to seize a calm moment to really interview him as it should have been done.

After having pushed all the furniture away to make some additional space, he starts spraying the white fabric board hung on one of the HQ room’s wall, his tall shape keeps on moving with precision in front of the panel.

Tell me, what is your global feeling about the Paris trip a couple of weeks afterwards? It was your first time in the City of Lights, right?

“When I was a kid and that I was thinking about the rest of the world, France was the one I was picturing the best, Europe, but mostly France. I was dreaming about its renowned monuments, population, the music, art, probably for it’s filled with so much history. Suddenly, the occasion popped out of the blue and it just happened! It was a great inspiration, being finally there, what’s more to attend a professional fair, it was a dream coming true.”

So, you’re happy with your experience of participating to an art fair in the end?

“It was my first international fair, as a participant, the comparison with what I had previously experienced abroad was interesting. The 13 Art Fair context was more powerful, as it was an institutionalized event with big galleries, expensive pieces, famous artists and serious collectors. I’d say that I was impressed in all kind of ways, so yes it was worthing it.”

Did working on this stand match what you were expecting?

“Somehow it did: I liked a lot seeing artworks from artists I appreciated for a long time, as Parisian Bom.K dark illustrations or Chilean artist Inti’s new canvas. At the same time, it could be a bit surprising in a creepy way because of the whole fancy side, facing the fact than urban art can sometimes become an overrated empty creation or an industrial luxury product.”

Along the stay I had plenty of occasions to realize what a <<gourmet>> you are! Tell me about my homecountry’s famous food.

He laughs in his typical loud and lovely way.

“I liked everything! Let me put it this way: my dad is Spanish, living in Mexico for thirty-five years, my mother comes from a Mexican culinary city and is a chef, so I’m used to get European food for they were often shopping in those small European groceries we can locally find. But what I tasted in Paris had NOTHING to do with it, I felt like I had been lied to my whole life about French gastronomy! And you know, I get now why stereotypes are so strong, they come from a truth basis, France’s good lifestyle is a reality! I was amazed by all the efforts in treatment, details, freshness, origin, quality, French put in their meals; it’s not about feeding anymore, it’s about making art out of the best ingredients.”

If you had to pick the best meal you had back there, which one would it be?

“The food we got in the Sacré Coeur’s little market was tasty. My favourite one was during the evening we had oysters and Champagne on a Montmartre’s sidewalk though: having fun outside would call for beers and fries, but the paradox between the classy food we were having and eating in the street was super interesting.”

My little finger told me that seeing Notre-Dame for real was kind of your secret wet dream…

“Gothic art attracts me a lot as it is a style we don’t have in Latin America, it is so different. The density of the ornaments, sculptures, engravings is completely apart if you compare it to other styles like baroque, it is highly detailed work while keeping it rough trough lines and materials. Its inner universe is also strongly linked to monsters, weird characters which speak to me.”

Why is that so? Monstrosity is something deeply inspiring for you and your art?

“When I was a child I was super found of monsters stories, I thought heroes were pretty boring, too perfect, strong, handsome, so I’ve always been attracted to grotesque characters. You can find a lot of Umberto Ecco’s texts explaining the beauty of ugliness, the importance of it regarding arts’ representation and interpretation. Maybe it has something to do with me as a kid suffering of isolation effects, so reading a lot of books and comics, and feeling a bit like a weirdo, a minority, a misfit. I’ve to say Notre-Dame’s Hunchback was my favourite. Gargoyles too, they’re typical from Gothic movement, and the burlesque aspect of them, the absurdity of their forms, obviously impact my creativity, you can make a wide parallel between them and old school cartoon style that I love so much. A cathedral is not only about architecture, it’s about religion, thanks to those creatures it becomes the religion I like, a mythological, rich, mysterious one.”

What is your Paris top 1 moment’s memory?

“We had so many good moments... I would say the second evening I think. We got out of the fair after the closing, drinking along the water, admiring the beauty of the lights on the Channel, surrounded by joyful teenagers. It was the middle of the stay, we were more relaxed for the stand was all set and the vernissage done, but we were not exhausted yet. We were also all together. It allowed us to stop time to taste Paris’ streets and to really feel as a whole united team.”

Why did it seem essential for you to feel unity during this trip?

“It’s very important to emphasize that I was going for an uncharted territory; I knew Anna for a short time, didn’t know you, Théa, never had been to France, never had attended such an event: everything was new to me. Thanks to that moment, I could gather all the individual energies, Anna’s powerful will, your and Théa’s knowledges about the capital, then fusion it into an inspiring group sensation, giving the project a labour force ability. We were participating in a Street Art Fair in Paris with the founder of the Street Art Museum of Amsterdam, with two Parisians French speakers and with a skilled grafitero: for SAMA we had the best team to hit this precise exhibition, and for me to first experience France.”

Remember the evening we met l’Art Seine?

“The same day we walked along the building, watching the colourful skulls painted on the doors, I thought it must be something like a bar or a disco. But entering the place was above all my hopes. I mean, the organisation, the crew, the artworks, the diversity of the visitors, the activities, it was mind blowing. Most of the squats I’ve been to were punk spots and this one was totally hip-hop, it was matching perfectly the structure’s kind: one hundred per cent street style while taking care of the community, staying widely open to the rest of the society.”

What hit you in particular inside?

“What stroke me the most was the coordination, that’s the trickiest part in running such a place. Though, everybody seemed to have a definite delegated role, one with the clothes shop, one at the bar, one dealing with the administration, one with graffitis, it appeared like a successful counter-culture role model.”

We met a freaking load of people, in and out the fair. Which meeting was the most memorable to you?

“For sure it was the squat crew. I guess the General was the best, such a character! It was crazy the way he was involved in his project, trying to explain how it was working, to communicate with us even if he was not speaking a word of English, same with Anna trying to talk to him without peaking French, but anyhow he was really listening, his behaviour happened to be truly kind. Indeed he was such a smart person, to be capable to build an entire alternative spot, not only a house but an illegal one, not only for him but for his residents and guests.”

He picks up another spray can on the floor to complete the evolving scroll.

Now you’ve tasted Paris atmosphere would you say you’d be capable to live there?

“If I could afford it, yes of course! You know, everybody was telling me aboutFrench people being rude, running in the streets, hating speaking English, never smiling; in the end, my stay in this city didn’t correspond to what I had been told at all. Remember that night we were walking back home, and a guy eating kebab in the street offered his fries to us? I mean, what the fuck, people were so nice and polite and helpful.”

What district would suit you the best?

“I definitely picture myself living in a small studio in Montmartre… Can you imagine having a little art gallery in the streets where masters like Lautrec or Van Gogh were working?”

You have been to a few different European cities in the past as far as I know. Which one would you give your preference to?

“I’ve been to Spain, Estonia, Netherlands, France, Sweden, Germany. I would choose Amsterdam. For its plurality, open-mindness, the freedom, liberation’s romantism you get walking in the town. There’s everything you need even if it’s quite small, you can reach any area by bike, it also has a lot of parks to hang out; in Mexico we have a few ones but they’re so bleak, dirty, full of rats and drug-addicts, nobody wants to chill there.”

I was impressed with your French culture I’ve to say! What’s with it that you like so much?

“Cause it’s present everywhere! France has always provided influence to the entire world in all kind of disciplines: architecture, music, literature, but not only in arts, politics, social sciences, psychology, economics. I already told about my love for Astérix, well I learnt so many history facts thanks to it, this is how I heard about Cleopatra for the first time for example. French culture gives quality, depth, complexity, elegant touch to everything, not only entertainment.”

Let’s share with us: if you go to a desert island…

“Yeah?”

Which French movie do you take with you?

“Definitely The City of Lost Children by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, because of the way of treating the science-fiction genre, which is very atypical compared to what we usually see in US blockbusters. This movie owes a special vintage atmosphere, almost steampunk, the landscapes, the acting, the fashion, it all looks so European.”

Which French comic?

“The Shark Teeth by Francois Boucq. That was my first comic from Europe, my father brought it to me. I had never seen something like that before, whereas I can’t really explain why it shook me so much: it’s not about good VS evil, it’s not about super heroes, it’s surrealistic jungle stories, combined with pop culture references, science-fiction and odd literature.”

French music album?

“I would grab something by singer Manu Chao with me. He’s French, but with Spanish roots, highly renowned in Latin America and very multi-cultural. He’s also an activist, I think he’s great.”

Which French traditional meal would you bring?

“The Aveyron’s traditional mashed potatoes plate, aligot! With some blue cheese, probably Roquefort.”

Finally, which French book would you take with you?

“Without any hesitation, The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire. I don’t fancy novels that much, I prefer reading poetry. I love when metaphors are tools to describe feelings or emotions; it must come from the fact that I love to get an image out of a written idea for me to use it later, and Baudelaire was doing so good at making a combination of words pictorial.”

The scroll (birthday card) seems to be finally done, sweet cake with candles, Dutch windmills and Gouda, flashy festive elements are decorating the previously blank streamer. He sits on the massive round plastic stool, contemplating his job. I finally shut up, letting him smoke, drink and meditate.

The dude would stay more before having to leave SAMA to go back to Mexico eventually. However, from the distance, we would of course keep on working and debating with him.

The touch he put into SAMA Paris adventure as well as into its following activities was undeniable, pairing with our spirit but still unique at the same time. We were already hoping to see him back again in Amsterdam for more. Maybe for 2018’s Spring ;-)?

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