While art is undoubtedly a thing of beauty and intrigue, its potential to highlight social concerns and to raise the collective consciousness is one of the things that makes it such an exciting business. One artist making a statement with his work is Colombian street artist, Toxicómano Callejero – another artist the Enter Gallery team came across while attending Miami Art Week, and whose work we’re delighted to say, is available now at the gallery and online.
In today’s blog, we’re revealing all we can (which isn’t much) about this enigmatic street artist, whose work tackles everything from police brutality and racism, to media control and human rights.
Who is Toxicómano Callejero?
Both a graphic designer and publicist by trade, Toxicómano leads a group of urban artists creating street art under the moniker, Toxicómano Callejero – which translates to Street Junkie. Explaining the name, the artist tells us that it defines what life is like in the city, and in his hometown of Bogotá, Colombia: ‘In the end, one ends up addicted to pollution, chaos and toxicity.’
The aim of the group is to create art interventions that combat what he calls, ‘double and single standards, and ignorance.’ Each creation is designed to grab attention, and to convey both a feeling, and a message, that makes people stop and think about the state of the world. He reveals:
‘What is important is the wall and not the artist. Our intention is always not to appear. We are not the protagonists of this. We don’t intend to satisfy people’s curiosity about who is behind the work. We want people to look at it, and to try and unfold their imagination.’
Making an impression
The graphic designers amongst you will recognise that the images and texts used in Toxicómano’s art are straight from his world of graphic design – high-contrast, impactful pieces bursting with meaning.
Alongside global popular and street culture and mass communication techniques, Toxicómano cites punk rock as a major influence on his work, particularly the Spanish punk bands of the 1980s and 90s.
Additionally, Toxicómano’s language and lettering recalls the pasquinades of the 1950s – an anonymous form of satire, which communicate vital social messages with the intention of leaving a lasting impression.
When casting his artworks, Toxicómano turns to popular culture to look for images that already have a stamp-like quality. This can include works derived from his own photography of friends and third parties, comic books, or via using a cast of beloved cartoon characters like Top Cat, the Pink Panther and Huckleberry Hound to grab people’s attention.
Every piece is accompanied by either an ironic, critical or proactive message designed to have maximum symbolic impact, and to ‘generate, and degenerate, contents and meanings.’
Toxicómano’s canvas is the urban environment, and his work can be found in cities across Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Spain, the US, and of course, his home country, Colombia.
In addition to street art, Toxicómano has been commissioned to create pieces in high-profile public and private locations, including The National Library of Colombia, The National Institute of Democracy in Washington D.C. and the International Committee of the Red Cross in Switzerland.
Check our selection of Toxicómano artworks here.