“We’re living in difficult times. But it always gets better again”
Graffiti artist Benuz on his art, Dresden and his upcoming exhibition at Full Moon Gallery
Benuz’s studio is a small room in the studio and rehearsal space Hanse 3 on the grounds of the Alter Leipziger Bahnhof in Dresden’s Neustadt district. Already upon entering the premises, visitors are welcomed by a large mural by Benuz. And also in his studio, which he moved into about a year ago, the walls are full of artworks in Benuz’s unmistakable style: “My technique is calligraphy,” Benuz explains. “But I don’t write. I do more texture and dynamic lines.” Some of his works are figurative, inspired by animals or human figures; others are more abstract, some almost geometric or symmetrical in shape. What unites them is the typical mesh of shapes and lines, reminiscent of calligraphic writings, but in a non-textual way. Therefore, Benuz uses different materials. If a graffiti is created outside, he works with spray cans, brushes and wall paint. On canvases, acrylic paint and sometimes spray cans are used. Benuz draws inspiration for his works from his study of ancient cultures, most notably the pre-Hispanic culture of his home country Mexico. “I work with different arts of cultures. From Mexico especially, but also with a mixture of cultures from China, or Thailand. Very ancient cultures. A mixture of symbols.” His art, he says, is full of spiritual and mystical energy. So it’s no surprise that when asked if he had an alternative or Plan B to becoming an artist, Benuz replies, “I might have become a therapist, but more in a spiritual place. And I could do therapy with alternative, different methods.”
As an artist, however, Benuz has already made a name for himself. Over the years, he became known in the Mexican graffiti scene as one of the pioneers of the calligraphy graffiti movement. Today, his avant-garde artwork is widely recognized in the global urban art scene, and he has become a source of inspiration for many young and aspiring graffiti and street artists around the world.
He has also worked with brands such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok, allowing him to make a full living from his art. Besides that he also works as a tattoo artist and makes music, but about 70 percent of his work is commissioned paintings on canvas. “I think it’s like with everything: you should always work and try to find your own way to make a living from your art. For example, I make T-shirts with my art, also tattoos, commissioned works on canvas, but there are just different ways to sell your art,” Benuz says.
Still, he advises young, aspiring artists to be authentic: “For me, it’s very important to be natural and not try to copy others. You can start with that, but you should ask yourself: what do YOU want to do? It’s a dialogue between you and your image of yourself. It’s honest and that’s the most important thing for me.”
Benuz has lived and worked in Dresden for eight years now. What he appreciates most about Dresden’s art scene is the versatility of small, non-commercial projects. “For me, the small galleries are interesting. They are a bit more alternative in their art, not so commercial. There are many different smaller galleries with flexible projects and underground art as well.”
His upcoming exhibition is entitled “The Eternal.” On that occasion Benuz will create eight works on special sustainable grass paper from the Dresden-based startup MATABOOKS. An exciting challenge for the artist, who normally rarely works on paper. The theme of the exhibition is “The Eternal.” “And that means the repetitive, the cycle of life or even people, which is also like a cycle”, Benuz explains. “And right now it’s a rather difficult time, but that always happens, in every cycle. And then it also gets better again.”
Benuz’s exhibition “The Eternal” will open at Full Moon Gallery (KulturCentrale, Hechtstr. 17, Dresden) on August 21, 2021 at 20:00h.
Author Miriam Gagelmann