One of the most influential and talented street artists working in Buenos Aires today is Louis Danjou, more commonly known as Grolou. Buenos Aires Street Art caught up with the Frenchman who has left his stamp all over the city and Province of Buenos Aires with his amazing animals and eye-catching abstract designs. Grolou now lives in Quilmes in the Province of Buenos Aires and he told us about his project called Pinta tu Barrio.
Snakes and Ladders – street artist Grolou in Quilmes, Buenos Aires
How did the idea for the project come about?
“There were three of us painting in the streets of whichever city, and then we all moved to Quilmes. Paint is expensive and to be able to realise our dreams we had to become more professional and think of a way to get sponsorship for what we wanted to do.”
Why do you do it?
“First of all it’s the joy of painting, it’s a passion, an adventure that’s full of different feelings afterwards because now that the three of us are living in Quilmes, we want to attack our barrio, to change its face so it becomes a museum under the open sky. We’ve made about 30 murals and they are all very near to one another. From one day to the next the people see the walls become full of colours and crazy stories and the impact is strong. Viewing art is not about seeing advertising, it’s an invasion of colours that stimulates the imagination.”
Eye-catching – Grolou and Blu Shei Wei
Why did you choose to do the project in Quilmes?
“It’s simple, I do it in Quilmes because I paint my neighbourhood, I paint where I live. It makes it easy that nearby there are lots of old and ugly walls. The people are not used to seeing
Mural by Grolou and Blu Shei Wei in Quilmes
Tell us about the other artists working with you?
“One is my girlfriend Flavia (Blu Shei Wei). We work together and paint together and we also make etchings, tattoos and prints. The other guy is Gumy, a friend I met in Chile a long time ago when I started to paint in the street and he came to live in Argentina.”
Cat’s claw – Grolou and Gumy
How does the project work?
“The project started thanks to Flavia’s mother Gabriela, who works in La Escuela de Bellas Artes in Quilmes. We came up with the project and put forward a proposal to the local council and from there we got hold of a number of walls. Afterwards when we were painting, the neighbours asked us questions and gave us walls to paint. Sometimes we’re just walking around the neighbourhood carrying paint and we knock on doors and offer to paint the front of the neighbours’ houses.”
Grolou with Blu Shei Wei
How do you fund the project?
“This is an issue. We are sponsored by the aerosol and paint companies Kuwait and Plavicon, so we don’t have to pay for materials. What we do ask for though is donations, it might be something to eat, it varies depending what the people want. In the end it works out much cheaper than calling a painter who does the same but paints the wall white.”
What are the key influences on your new artworks in Quilmes?
“Yes. A lot has changed, not only the painting, my life too. I’m much calmer, less crazy! I started tattooing a short while ago and it has taught me different techniques and ways of working. Besides I’ve got much more paint than I’ve ever had before, I can go and try out new things. Also the process of working with other people influences you, and each person leaves their own mark on the lives of the others. Cumbia [Columbian dance music] is my biggest latin influence (depicting old women, Peruvians, Columbians, people from the jungle, psychedelic)and more and more I want to go in this direction, it’s full of colours and latin love.”
Photographs of a number of murals by Grolou feature in the book Textura Dos Buenos Aires Street Art
Do you have any plans to paint in other places and another project in mind?
“Yes, now we are doing a Pinta tu Barrio in Avellaneda with the help of another group of artists. Also we plan to take the project to Chile and to France. I hope it happens…”
For more information about artworks by Grolou in Quilmes check out flickr.com/photos/louisvoyage/
All photos © Buenos Aires Street Art
(This interview was first published in November 2010)