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Free Spirit | An Interview with Okuda

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Even if you haven’t heard of Okuda, you can most definitely recognize his artworks. Covering abandoned chapels, lost railways, and dark churches with multicolored geometric patterns, his works are bold and memorizing. Born in Santander, Spain, Okuda started his career more than 20 years ago with painting, and since then has continued to inspire with his giant murals across the globe

Just a quick look at an abandoned house, in Arkansas, transformed into the universal chapel, or forgotten church of Santa Barbara, in Llanera, transformed into temple of art – it is easy to get lost in his surrealist world.

Kaos Temple by Okuda, Llanera / Spain,  2015

"Art has played a big role in all changes happened in history so far. In my case, I need to transform the grey concrete and sad places into more colourful and positive ones, because at the end this changes the people that live there. Like the last school I finished yesterday, serving as an inspiration for new generations from now on."

Okuda is best known for being a pop-surrealist painter, photographer, and sculptor. We wondered which one of them satisfies him the most and why.

“Painter, because I started painting more than 20 years ago, much earlier with other techniques.”

Okuda has one foot in the studio and one foot on the streets creating. He notes that this would be quite challenging if he didn’t have such a strong team behind the scenes.

“I enjoy a lot all aspects of my work because I have a big team, Ink and Movement that does the boring work in the office so I can keep myself focused on creating.”

Holy Animals, Palacete, Santander

His roots are in Santander but he is a free spirit traveling around the world with his art and passion to create. And each of these countries/cities has something to offer Okuda.

“My roots are in a small city in northern Spain called Santander. I moved to Madrid in 2000. But I feel I am a free spirit. Each country I visit provides me inspiration, knowledge, experiences, humanity, feelings, foods and incredible people. Definitely, all my travels help to make me an artist and a person.”

His murals, sculptures, tapestries, photographs, and installations challenge the meaning of life, existentialism and the impressions of the capitalism. He draws inspiration from everything like  Burning Man or even the fashion world. But his truest source of inspiration?

“Everything I live everyday: my friends, street life, festivals like Burning Man, music, fashion, movies, theatre, museums… But biggest inspiration comes from traveling.”

The New Gioconda, By Night Gallery, Paris. France, 2017

His marks are everywhere around the world. You may come across one of his psychedelic murals while walking on the streets of Bangkok or strolling around Brussels. We wondered what piece of his artwork he most identifies with.

“In the street, those might be the churches I’ve painted and the castle in France because all of those ones combine my contemporary painting with classical architecture. And I love that contrast. My favorite studio piece is the biggest one I’ve done so far, called “The Lake of Wishes” (5x3m, for Art Madrid Fair).”

He spreads inspiration with his giant murals across the globe. Keep your eyes wide open because he might be transforming your neighbourhood into a mind-blowing entity with his upcoming installations.

“Now I am in Boston for an installation and public presentation of 7 sculptures I did for Seaport. Then I will go back to Moscow to do another mural, a solo project for Art Paris fair with By Night Gallery. I will do a solo show called “The Plastic Island” at Mirus Gallery in Denver. And then straight to the art week in Miami to participate in Scope Art Fair.”

Outdoor Intervention at Dique de Gamazo, 2018

Abandoned chapels, lost railways, dark churches… He told us about choosing the areas where he is creating his installations: “I always love to do new formats, old architectures, highest buildings, and crazy indoor spaces, incredible natural places to do installations or sculptures.”

Viewers of Okuda’s artworks are also essential parts of them. He wants people to always feel something different when they view his artworks, depending on their own life and experience.

"My father always tells me… ‘Enjoy life as much as you can every day.’"

By: Merve Durmus