At a recent beachside live art show hosted by Saatchi & Saatchi at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Argentinian artists Orilo Blandini and Defi Gagliardo bewildered their audience; they painted and hammered holes into several canvases, plastered on posters reading “E$to E$ W1ld Style”, and then got into a small painted rowboat and floated off. Partly based in Buenos Aires, Blandini and Gagliardo have exhibited around the world.
They work primarily with British gallerist Adrian Palengat, whose Apart gallery champions international pop and street art. “These guys, like so many other high profile street artists, have put an IV line straight into the arm of youth culture,”Palengat said after the show. “I suppose if the audience here really get what they’ve just seen, then we’ve failed to have an edge – it has to cut through the flesh. If they’re just saying ‘oh, I can play with this and shove it in my pocket’ then it’s pointless,” he explained. “People are looking at the art quizzically, asking ‘what is this?’ They might understand that aesthetically it has good composition, but whether or not the sheer raw value of it is something they can digest...” he trails off before continuing, “I think these artists want some understanding, but if their work is completely understood, then they might as well give up painting.”
Dazed made a short film about Blandini and Gagliardo’s live art show and then had a chat with the artists about coming of age during Argentina’s economic disintegration and how they’ve seen street art evolve.
Dazed Digital: How did it all start for you?
Defi Gagliardo: We started as artists 10 years ago...
Orilo Blandini: The street is the first scene where you can really work. And in Buenos Aires you can do whatever you want. At the beginning of 2000, the situation there was really fucked up. No money, no jobs, we were all together, working in collectives.
Defi Gagliardo: The street was our canvas, a free canvas.
Orilo Blandini: The best thing was that there was total anarchy, no law. Now of course, it’s totally different. But 10 years ago it was so amazing. Until 2005, it was the best place to be.
Defi Gagliardo: It was amazing. But now, it’s like a trend, street art’s the new fashion.
DD: What do you think about this new generation of artists?
Orilo Blandini: Some of them take so many risks, it’s amazing, but they don’t really say anything.
Defi Gagliardo: We had feelings, but now the kids don’t - they just put it out there because that’s the fashion.
DD: What were you guys were trying to say back then that was different?
Defi Gagliardo: We put something into the street that was important.
Orilo Blandini: You have to ask yourself, “What is art for me?” Breaking into a cash machine and trying to get the money – to me that is art. It’s performance. If you’re with your friends in a city and there’s no law and order around, it’s great. It’s anarchy! I have the best memories from 2000-2003. But then the situation improved, so everybody started making money and all of the collectives broke up.
DD: So you’re not working with your old art collectives anymore?
Defi Gagliardo: We each have our own collective still, but the members are totally spread out, they’re in Germany, in Sao Paolo, In my collective, they all have babies and families!
Orilo Blandini: The end of street art!
DD: So you can’t have kids and still be a street artist?
Orilo Blandini: No, you have to choose! (laughs)
DD: How did the influx of wealth into street art scene effect your work?
Defi Gagliardo: People grow up, they need to sell their dreams to earn money.
Orilo Blandini: Now we’re doing this for Saatchi.
Defi Gagliardo: We’re earning money, but having fun too.
Orilo Blandini: It’s the key to being able to do whatever you want. What’s the difference if a collector buys my work, or I come here to paint? My own work is nothing to do with it.
DD: What about the art show you did today?
Orilo Blandini: For me, the biggest art show, was over there [points at security guards blocking off the beach). Who makes two guys stand outside for hours, on a day like today, in black suits?
DD: Yeah, fair point. Now that street art is so popular, what keeps it relevant for you?
Defi Gagliardo: New ideas of course. It’s the end of street art now, so that’s becoming interesting.
Orilo Blandini: I mean in Buenos Aires, as soon as you get out of the airplane, it’s everywhere. It’s not just Banksy.
Defi Gagliardo: Banksy is not a street artist, for older people he might be.
DD: When you come to other a place like London, with CCTV everywhere, do you find it more difficult to work in public spaces?
Defi Gagliardo: Yes, I feel it is. You only have freedom for one minute. In Buenos Aires you have freedom forever. In San Paolo you have five hours, in London maybe you have 10 minutes, probably one minute. But you know, you can make art in one minute. It’s just not as easy in London compared to Buenos Aires.
DD: What are some of the ideas and influences behind your work?
Orilo Blandini: My work is really political, I grew up in a city where everything is corrupt. I guess my influences aren’t a movement, an artist or anything, they’re just my own experiences. You can see the anger and feelings in my work. I’m not like “Oooh I love the Nouvelle Vague!” I mean I do, but my influences are seeing my single sister with her son, and my father dying, or my grandpa talking to me. I pay more attention to the things that really touch me.
Defi Gagliardo: I believe in my dreams, they’re my influence.
Orilo Blandini: He smokes a lot! (laughs)
Defi Gagliardo: My friends, like Orilo, influence me. The whole world influences me!