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Street Smart: An Interview with Carlos Donjuan

Thursday, February 24, 2011 · 1 Comment

One of my favorite arts publications is New American Paintings. It comes out six times a year and features a wide-array of emerging and mid-career artists. What I like most about NAP is that the selection feels fair and it’s clear that there is no one singular view that the jurors seek to put forward. In the 90th edition (i.e. West) I was blown away by the work of Dallas artist Carlos Donjuan and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview the artist for the New American Paintings blog.

(Here’s the first part of the interview from NAP.)

Donjuan’s work, be it painting, graffiti, or mixed media, beautifully captures the complex visual language of underground youth culture from the perspective of someone in-the-know. The Dallas native credits graffiti as his biggest ongoing influence, as well as street fashion and hybrid music genres, and recently had a major moment: his first all-graffiti show (as part of the collective Sour Grapes) at Dallas Contemporary. I asked the artist about his beginnings and how sub-cultures continue to influence his work today.

How would you describe your attraction to graffiti?

I have been into graffiti for 14 years now, ever since I was in high school. As a kid, I was already big into lowrider art, so graffiti was a natural fit for me. Graffiti really consumed my life and I did everything I could in order to learn its hidden secrets. I was in love with this mysterious and notorious art movement. Finding graffiti magazines and meeting other graffiti artists was, at times, a difficult task. Now you can just get on the internet and find everything you need to know. The element of discovering its history and techniques is not as difficult as it used to be, but I still love it.

Did graffiti or painting come first for you?

I did a lot drawing first, then graffiti, and finally I got into painting.

How does Dallas street culture play into your work?

Dallas is home to me, and I have watched the graffiti scene develop in this city. Being part of that growth has been very inspiring and has fueled my work.

Check out the rest of the interview over at New American Paintings.

Tags: Art

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 lizzie // Feb 25, 2011 at 10:46 am

    excellent interview and i LOVE his work!

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