Alexandru Ciubotariu aka Pisica Pătrată | Interview
Read our special interview with graphic designer and street artist Alexandru Ciubotariu, also known as Pisica Pătrată. We talked about both comics and street art projects, so be sure you don’t miss exclusive info.
Pisica Pătrată & Street Art
You attended several street art events this year. How was 2013 for you as a street artist and what’s your opinion regarding the growing interest in graffiti and street art in Romania?
Indeed, I’m back after a pause in my (visible) street art activity. Somehow, for me, the launch of the pisic apăt rată album (Vellant, 2010 ) was a kind of closing cycle. The book is very important in my life and creation and I felt that this phase ended with its launch, as the book summarizes all my street art activity until then. But of course, I am still interested in a field I am so fond of and I continue mainly in organized events, where I feel and believe that I can do more of what I want in the public space.
© Pisica Pătrată
I am very interested in certain details that I can obtain when attending such events. And I would also like to try painting larger murals, this being possible when working organized. My participation at events such as Episode 3/ Ciclop (organized by Work in Progress and The re:art), Ironlak BBQ Burner, Train Delivery etc. made 2013 a very good year, both related to the number of my street art pieces in public space and their visibility, and also considering collaborations and results.
Pisica Pătrată at Ciclop | © Anda Bolohan
Pisica Pătrată at Ciclop | © The re:art
About this general interest in graffiti and street art, we shouldn’t be so enthusiastic, as graffiti and street art is a godsend trend for those who need visibility, and it can easily be used for consumerism/ advertising purposes, that end up killing this art form. That is why I mentioned the need for collaborations, as the ones who organized the events where I participated this year did wonderful things. Episode 3/ Ciclop, Ironlak or Train Delivery, these events were organized by people with good understanding of what painting in public space means, and the results were great. Interest for such artistic happenings isn’t new, I am happy it manifests here as well, but, as I said, we need to be careful of whom, how, where these events are organized.
Pisica Pătrată at Train Delivery | © The re:art
Combo at Ironlak BBQ Burner x Bucharest | © The re:art
When did you first become interested in graffiti / street art and how did things evolve since then?
Well, it’s almost ten years now. I’ve been drawing since I can remember, but I started becoming interested in graffiti and street art after a visit in France, where I saw, besides graffiti to which I was familiar and somehow interested me, all sorts of street art – stickers and so on. It was closer to my real interests and I investigated the phenomenon both visually and theoretically. I was surprised by its global scale and decided to try creating several characters and posting them in a space I knew well, in Bucharest. Here and then I saw an ideal place to do this, my spaces of intervention were urban furniture, behind traffic signs or other urban things that were “untouched” by artists and especially by guerrilla advertising. So anything you did at that time was very visible and interesting, as it was new.
In Bucharest | © Pisica Pătrată
At first, I used to watch people’s reactions when coming across these little colorful forms in public space. These were characters that came up in my searches, and at some point I named them Pisica Pătrată. I started with small stickers, placed randomly on the streets, then the dimensions became bigger and forms started to be created for specific places, and the most recent are especially created for a certain space. As I told you, the reactions of others made me go on, and a series of encouragements from different people and fields, and my wish to continue, to do something in the urban jungle of Bucharest. I did all this with great passion and a dose of detachment, trying to keep everything playful and, at the end it brought me the biggest satisfactions.
Who are the characters you name Pisica Pătrată? And where did they travel?
The characters I named Pisica Pătrată are actually a result of my usual searches for future comics. They define my street art activity and now even identify with my name. Many people know me as or call me Mister Pisica Pătrată, and this is good. I never had any meaning or special message, the only thing that interested me was to artistically intervene where I felt that form and color were needed, in a city I know and which needs these accents. Even though my works travelled to other cities and countries, what I do makes more sense here, where I live…
In Budapest | © Pisica Pătrată
In Chişinău | © Pisica Pătrată
Who would you like to collaborate with? An international artist perhaps?
It’s hard to tell, I am mostly interested in what I can offer in such collaborations. In general, my collaborations were very interesting and productive experiences, even if they weren’t always well planned.
What’s next on your street art agenda?
I don’t know. Lately, I try putting my works on canvases rather than on the streets. And I am interested in painting large murals. We’ll see what happens.
© Pisica Pătrată
Alexandru Ciubotariu & Comics
In September you launched the Art of Comics exhibition, which will be open until May 31, 2014 at the National Library of Romania, as part of the Museum of Comics project. How was the opening event and how important is the exhibition for the history of the Museum of Comics?
It is perhaps the most complex exhibition I tried in this approach called the Museum of Comics project, considering both the number of featured artists, as well as the materials used to show the complexity of this art form. The place is also important, as the National Library of Romania can be an opportunity for the project to grow in a permanent physical space at some point.
© The re:art
All these ingredients, and the timing, the generous space and the collaboration with a passionate team at the Library, encourage me to believe I’m on the right path with a very dear project. The exhibition aims to show, if the case, that comics is an art – the 9th according to many experts, and highlight its multiple and surprising perspectives. The exhibited documents from more than 70 Romanian artists, from original script pages and sketches to digital works of various techniques and approaches invite us in the personal world of a comics author and demonstrate that comics is an art.
When we last met, you told us the exhibition will include several events, during this period. Can you offer us more info?
I’m currently working on comic releases and magazines, as well as workshops or free artist talks, but besides the launch on November 5th and the participation at the National Library Open Days, I cannot confirm other happenings. It’s a continuous activation process of the space. I hope my ideas come to life and that we’ll have time to communicate them all at the right moment…
What do you like most about comics? How did it become such a great passion?
It’s hard to say. Comics was a very important constant in my life. My passion for this form of expression comes from my childhood and is still alive as it was then, I would even say that it’s gained new dimensions in time. It’s hard to explain, but it’s clear that all my activity, some way or another, is related to this art.
© The re:art
What Romanian comic projects do you like and why?
Being so involved, I know many artists and initiatives I am fond of. I like the initiative of self-publishing and webcomics, which I find very important in the evolution of style and theme. SEFEU Corporation, BDC, Fredo and pid’jin, comicsCevaMărunt or Revista Comics, all are free from an editor’s intentions and are the concerns of comic artists. There are many other good things, but I don’t want to nominate, as I will surely forget someone who deserved to be mentioned. Anyway, when you are a comics passionate, you enjoy any new project, as it is a very small “market”.
There will be more organized things happening, most probably under the same name – the Museum of Comics project. So, exhibitions, albums, events, I will know at the right time. The idea is that everything I choose to do takes time and resources that must meet my creative objectives. And I’m already working on some albums and hope they’ll be published soon.
[Taken in October, 2013 and posted in December, 2013, on The re:art Facebook page; Revised for the current version].