Oz Montania is one of more than 250 artists who are taking part in Zig Zag, the Latin American meeting in La Plata during three days from 12th to 14th October. Oz spoke with Buenos Aires Street Art about the influences in his art and his passion for painting in the street and his thoughts about Zig Zag and painting in La Plata, Buenos Aires.
Who are you and where are you from?
I’m Oz Montanía, Paraguayan, I paint in the street, I illustrate and I make friends on the way.
When did you start to paint in the street and why did you dedicate yourself to street art?
The first aerosol I used when when I was 12 years-old to make punk stencils (I collected comics and started to go skateboarding at this age), after I was 14 I was doing tags and throw-ups that were pretty bad, with the years I was drawn towards drawing and painting personalities and I ‘m still doing the same 13 years later. I believe that everyone who does street art, or art in whatever form, has a sensitivity and drive to do it, the engine to do it are pure desire, without skill, technique, without experience, at the time you become passionate about i and you end up like me, without being able to explain how you came to feel so good painting in the street. Now I have more motives and reasons and things that I want to say, but if you take it away that away still it leaves me with that desire like a kid. Oz with Ice and Adri in Buenos Aires
I am still searching in distinct ways to painter, and it leaves me more comfortable to be a slave of the line and finish everything with traces but ultimately I try to have volumns trying to do without the line. it’s not easy if you are do used to doing sometihng, I like the cold colours and not to use black where possible, referring to popular culture and things like that.
Popular Paraguayan culture, surreal pop, low brow, music, the neighbourhood, indigenous mythology, politics of the time, things that I am reading, seeing, listening to. The eye that sees the most is the best seen and the hearing that is most listened to is the best heard, I try to feed myself with many things.
Artists who have influenced you?
Among the illustrators that have movtitated me to draw are Moebius, Dave McKean, Jamie Hewlett and a whole lot more. The graffiti artists who inspired me to paint (besides what I do doesn’t have much to do with their styles) they were Mode2, Seakone, Daim and actualmente Arys, Lowbros, Nychos, Etam Crew, El Mac etc, I’m sure that I am forgetting a buch of people, but it is like that, the talent surprisingly hits you in the face and gives you the desire to carry on trying to improve. Oz with Rolo and Riki in Asunción, Paraguay
Interesting themes in the art of Oz include capitalism, consumerism, corruption in politics sometimes using animals.
There are obvious ways of making murales with themes like these but what interests me more is is exploring metaphors and not doing them so directly at the people in the street, in Paraguay a barrage of protest art doesn’t exist like in other countries in the region, so for this side it has started. Each one has his own motives to paint, and personally it makes me feel really alienated if I only were to paint murals that were merely ornamental and ignoring the shitty moment that is happening in my country due to a putrid and stealing political class and a people with a captive memory and the laziness. For this conformism that is so common that the people of my country can’t break the mountain of parasites that suck the blood, life and hopes. I would be an idiot if I shut up.. The pigs
A few days before the fall of the state parliament, that was a circus impossible to believe, thousands of people like me were in the streets protesting without being allied to any political party, defending in whatever way the democratic process that sadly (very sadly) was leaving us in a dictatorial legacy that has imprisoned us in the years of “transition” when the police fires tear gas and rubber bullets blowing holes in people’s faces together with the elderly and children… you realise that EVERYTHING IS BAD. They provoked a massacre and later manipulated that same massacre with the excuse of taking power, they used the death of the peasants and police as if they were chess pieces, they invented political justice so corrupt that until now, most countries don’t recognise the government of the actual president. All this provoked a lot of disgust and with the help of a few of my friends we painted a war full of rabid pigs in the centre of Asunción. Animal in your art
To be sincere comparisons with animals are unjust, animals don’t have infectious ambition that the Paraguay politicians in parliament have. Neither do they have the paranoid plotting theories that the paraguayan militants have, animals don’t sell their country off in bits to sick multi-national companies, animals don’t ask U.S. military bases in Chaco territory, some animals might be “dirty” but they don’t defend the use of genetically modified seed and pesticides that cause deformations in other animals of the same species. Animals are so much better that the people who run my country, but while I search for other metaphors, I have remorse using animals. Oz wih Ice, Maur, Cerok and Bater
Some of the personalities that I use are from popular origin in Paraguay, like the Bull of Candil, that is a tradition in the festivals of San Juan and in my country. Two people cover themselves with a cow’s skin and one of them takes a bull’s skull and set the horns alight with gasoline and chases the people at the party for fun (hahaha) another of the typical games is “pelota tatá”, that is a paper ball covered in gasoline that is set alight with the idea of playing with the ball as dangerously as possible hahaha. I was brought up with these type of things and I like to take them where I go. Besides I use the bull almost as a symbol of subversion. Oz with Malegria, Ene Ene and Rodez
With which artists do you like to paint?
Uff I think that I like to paint with people who like collaborative walls, people how don’t have a problems trying a symbiosis, I would like to go back to painting with all the friends that I have made painting over the years.
In what countries have you painted?
I owe much to the aerosol, thanks to it (and I use it) I could paint and get to know well, Argentina, Brasil, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Canada, South Africa and I plan to carry on doing it.
Oz with Lucas We, Soer and Ice in Buenos Aires
Differences between painting in Argentina and Paraguay
In Argentina it is easier to get hold of material and there are many more people painting in whatever moment, you have good things and you always have a good time in Argentina. I have made a lot of good friend there. In Paraguay you have the drowsiness of the city, you can paint the face of a a dictator (like I did) next to the Houses of Parliament and nothing happens, half a dozen police cars can pass by while you are painting and they are not going to do anything, they don’t see you as a vandal because they don’t register what vandalism is, it didn’t exist before a protest mural that the police have already programmed that to paint in whatever place is illegal, in this way it is weird, whoever comes to paint in Paraguay realises this. Thoughts and expectations about Zig Zag in La Plata
This is the first time that I am going to paint in La Plata, I had the opportunity to paint with Luxor, who is from there, in Paraibuna, Sao Paolo and it left the best impression on me, so that I wait for the best. Meeting up again and new friends, strengthening the local urban art scene and motivating those who have recently started to paint and having a good time, there is room for everyone.
Check out the flickr page of Oz Montania flickr.com/photos/pyrotaurus and more information about Zig Zag in La Plata, Buenos Aires www.haciendozigzag.com.ar
Photos © Buenos Aires Street Art and Oz Montania