Barcelona Artist Spotlight: Armando Mesias
You may not know Armando Mesias, but he wants to know you. If you’ve walked past our ground floor Arena Space lately, no doubt you’ll have seen Betahaus’s newest mural, a portrait realized and created entirely by this incredibly talented Colombian-born visual artist. We got the opportunity to visit him in his studio to get to know his work, his story and his vision a little better.
The Barcelona-based artist, muralist, and illustrator got his start as a musician and art director before dedicating himself to becoming a full-time studio artist. While nearly eighty percent of his work is portraiture, he still does illustration and typography, with a lot of his inspiration coming from growing up in Cali, Colombia, and his early career in the music industry. His work, he says, is about creating an experience of reflection within the viewer.
What story are you trying to tell with your work?
I don’t think that work needs an explanation, I want my work to be a reflective process. It really interests me what happens with people when they experience my work. I am interested in the stories that develop when they are making meaning from what they see.
It’s not so much about what I want the work to say, but it’s more about the relationship between the artist, the sitter, and the viewer. At some point the work becomes out of my control. All of a sudden the work takes on its own life, with its own history. When I paint someone who is unknown to the viewer, for example like the mural (in Betahaus), the focus becomes personal for them.
So who is the man in the mural? What is his story? What inspired you to choose this work for Betahaus?
The man is model from Mongolia; his features are very particular, but it was very hard initially to know exactly where he was from. It makes sense that he’s from a different land. I chose this portrait because to me, it’s very representative of what Betahaus is; people from all over the world, who are so talented at so many different things, coming together to create this community. In a way, it’s really representative of Barcelona, too.
For you, as an artist, how do you develop your creative process?
Really, I try not to think too much about the technique, and focus more on what the artwork means. Right now I’m focusing a lot on the passing of time; how relationships develop and how people evolve… So I represent that in the artwork at a physical level.
I start my work on the floor of the studio, and you can see that over time there are a lot of different elements of the studio that are present in the artwork — maybe different marks or footsteps– that get added to the work unintentionally. You see over time how the work develops and you let it take a life of its own.
In a parallel universe, if you weren't an artist what do you think you would have been instead?
I’ve always had tons of ideas, but they always led me back to creating something. I was in a band for around 8 years. After the band broke up, I still felt drawn to being involved in music. I’d always wanted to explore becoming an artist, although it’s really scary. It’s kind of a leap of faith really. Everyday is a struggle but you make peace with that. If I couldn’t do art, I’d go back to being a musician. Even if I weren’t an artist, I’d still do something that allowed me to create.
Where are you headed? What’s next for you in your work?
I’m not good at being static, and I’m always trying to explore new things. For now, I’d like to continue to develop where I am with my work in portraiture. There are still a lot of stories to be told, and I have a good pool of work right now to continue to discover ideas and tell these stories.
Every work of art has a story, and there are so many stories to be told all over Betahaus. And, if you haven’t spent any time yet with the mural in the Arena Space on the ground floor, do yourself a favor and check it out. You might just learn something about yourself.