- Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself.
P: I was born in London but didnft really live here. I moved to Canada when I was a one year old and lived there until I was 18 and then moved back to England. I was only planning to stay here for three months and it ended up lasting 18 years. From a very young age I was very interested in art. I remember going to an Andy Warhol exhibition when I was 5 or 6 years old and it really captivated me because of the bright colors and repetition of his images. There was even a street artist in Canada called g12 Midnighth and he would paint a stencil of a man in a cape with a clock almost striking midnight. As a child I was fascinated with the persona of the mysterious man and it made me start thinking of whom this character was, did he always dress like this and what did it all mean?
It was actually when I lived in Dublin that first prompted me to start doing graffiti. I didnft have much to do at night and I was tired of going to bars/pubs and drinking. So my friend came up with the name Pablo Fiasco and we started to do graffiti together. My first piece was a freehand stencil of a man flying an aeroplane with a banner flying from the tail of the plane. The banner was in the shape of a condom and the message in the condom said, "Use Condoms". After a while, every single aeroplane stencil I sprayed on the street was crossed-out or somebody would write something rude on the piece. It made me realize that people were reacting to the art and I began to think that graffiti was about people writing messages back to you. Since then, my pieces havenft really been defaced or messed around with but it was that initial experience which made me continue to play around with stencils.
My style then became solely based on political slogans in the classic protest colours of red and black. I also felt that I could not directly relate to the hip-hop culture of graffiti and its freestyle drawing methods which was why I decided to concentrate on stencils.
- Tell us about the exhibition you have at the moment.
P: Well, I have been doing graffiti for approximately 12 years now and I have collected a lot of themes and iconic images over the years. One of the main images was of a typewriter which I first made a few years ago. I began to evolve the typewriter and gave it speech bubbles so it could talk to people from the wall. I felt that this was a suitable way back into graffiti as it had the feel of a cartoon or comic book world.
The theory was that there is this intricate, modernist machine but it speaks in playful, cartoon bubble text. So there are a number of canvases here at the show that represents
this. I also love to read and so some of my favorite literary writers, like William S. Burroughs and Franz Kafka are also represented in my work.
- Are these writers role-models or heroes to you? How do you view them?
P: Originally, I had a general rule that if I was impressed with or inspired by someone, then I would try and create something out of that inspiration. Itfs like going to a music gig and being inspired by the performance and then going home and making something derived from the energy gained at the gig.
Inspiration is continual as well; I will come back to William S. Burroughs and use him for a different piece as he can inspire me in many different ways. I use other writers too who I feel stood for something as their ideas can be symbolic too. I want to identify myself in some way with what they represent.
- Can we still find your work on the streets?
P: Yes, you definitely can. I havenft been out painting as much recently; I probably had my peak 2-3 years ago, since then, I have slowly wound down. I went through a really rough patch for a couple of years as I was being taken to court and then I took the police to court!
- Can you tell us more about that incident?
P: Sure. I was caught on camera with a friend about 8 years ago in Brighton. I had a long history of doing a lot of political graffiti there. I would target the Criminal Justice Bill and lots of different political leaders. Brighton, at the time, was the only city outside London that had a graffiti squad and they had to look pro-active. They wanted to charge me with 26 counts of criminal damage which meant that they wanted a jail sentence for me. However, they werenft very organised and I hired a great lawyer that asked them to provide paint samples and witnesses. This lasted a year and eventually, they failed to gather enough evidence to convict me. I havenft been caught since but it has made me realize that you should never keep any incriminating evidence at your house.
- Are there any other cities where we can find your art?
P: I have done a lot in Berlin where I did a lot of the Kafka pieces as well as in Prague. He was actually buried in a Jewish cemetery in Prague and I wanted to do a tribute piece by his grave. However, when I got there they asked me to wear a yamaka and that freaked me out because I realised that they would take my art totally the wrong way and think I was desecrating the grave site so I didnft do it!
- Creatively speaking, what else are you doing right now?
P: I make a lot of films using Super 8 so I guess that I am still a fan of the old analogue world and I do live visuals with an artist called Jamie Lidell.
He is a fantastic singer, performer and friend of mine and we have done some incredible shows together. Most of my visuals are high - energy and very fast; I like to call it "Memory Burn" , where you will see loads of different images flash by, but because some are iconic images, they stay in your mind even though you have seen 10 other images since that first one. I also did some live visuals for Squarepusher when he was playing with Yee-King and their jazz band at CoCofs as well as a four gig tour in Japan where Jamie Lidell and I opened for him. On that tour I was filming more than going crazy with my live visuals.
Youtube: Jamie Lidell - Live at the Royal Festival Hall London 2004 (visual by Pablo Fiasco)
- What are your views on the current UK street-art/graffiti scene?
P: It seems to me that recently, it has slowed down a little. I didnft like it at first, the way everything was going towards the sticker and poster culture but now I really do. I now understand why people do it as itfs quick and easy. Therefs a big police presence in London with a lot of cameras so you canft really hang around and take your time like you used to be able to. I like how people have to pre-prepare now, by using computers to design the art or hand-making the posters. Also, thanks to prolific artists like Banksy emerging from the UK, the concepts of graffiti and streetart have invaded the regular home now and put more awareness into people who had no idea of this type of art.
- Who are some of your favourite artists right now?
P: I donft visit galleries as frequently as I used to as I feel that they donft change their content quickly enough, in terms of their variety of artists. The cool thing about the graffiti side of art is that the streetfs walls are like a self-curating gallery. Pieces change all the time, weekly or monthly and even though not all may be good, it still has a lot of energy nonetheless.
However, I do like Gordon Matta-Clarke, who is known as a Deconstructionist who enjoys making invasions in buildings, like cutting it in half or cutting huge holes in a house to reveal its layers and framework. Also, Chris Burden, who was an extreme performance body artist who got his friend to shoot him, as well as crawl with his hands tied, over broken glass.
Many people just think he is crazy but I really admire his passion and commitment to his art. Finally, my favourite film maker right now is Sadie Benning. She became a well-known director by making a great autobiographical film when she was 15 years old using a Fisher-Price Pixelvision toy video camera. I liked her film so much that I got my own Fisher-Price camera and made a kind of glove-letterh to her with a film called gLaser Headh.