The technicolor compositions of Dirty 1984 are easily recognised, the artist making a name in Barcelona through his own brand of distorted cartoon figures, comic fonts and contrast between monochrome and graduated rainbow sections. His clean and accessible style makes him a popular figure within the circuit of festivals and community projects, but he recently completed a clandestine mission in the Collserola hills overlooking his hometown to impressive effect. Montana Colors photography Clara Antón was on hand to capture the process, which he describes to us in this interview.
How did you come up with the mission?
It is a place that I visit regularly. It reminds me of my childhood, and I wanted to paint something in that area. I’ve been waiting a long time to be able to paint that wall, it was a project that I’ve had in mind for about two years.
“I showed up there without knowing very well how everything was going to go, if anyone would complain or call the police, but in the end nothing happened.”
How big is it exactly? How long did it take for you to do finish?
Well, it’s pretty big. It’s about 14 meters long by about five meters high. I was painting for about 8 hours. I did it all in one day.
I wanted to paint there so much that I got a massive rush of energy and had to take advantage of it.
Is the illustration designed expressly for that wall?
Yes, it is something that is usually part of my process. First I check the wall that I’m going to paint and think about the surrounding environment to make sure that the illustration fits perfectly with the proportions of the wall and the area. The photo of the final painting and the location results in the whole piece.
You didn’t have permission to paint there. Were there any difficulties along the way?
I showed up there without knowing very well how everything was going to go, if anyone would complain or call the police, but in the end nothing happened. It’s not a place where many people come by, but of course I kept an eye out so that as few people as possible would see me just in case, you know?
Did anything weird happen when you were painting that wouldn’t usually happen in the city?
Carrying all the paint together with a telescopic ladder to the spot. Massive bees. Areas of the floor that were really bumpy because of the vegetation that made it hard to use the ladder. But on the other hand everything was very chill. I asked the photographer Clara Antón if she could help me get as close as possible by car. I’ll be eternally grateful for the help, the company and the magnificent documentation that she made. Without her it wouldn’t have been possible.
“First I check the wall that I’m going to paint and think about the surrounding environment to make sure that the illustration fits perfectly with the proportions of the wall and the area.”
Why did you carry out a mural of this size, without receiving financial support?
Above all, creative freedom of being able to do something big without having to bear in mind any opinions other than your own. You don’t have to paint according to a brief or concept to transmit. You do all of that yourself and that makes the project much more personal.
Check out the Montana Shop Gràcia playlist that Dirty 1984 illustrated here: