Street artist Sabek: “I paint because I need it”

Sabek was one of the first street artists I was stoked about while walking in the streets of Madrid back in 2012. Characters of a bear were all around the city. The bear was hardly ever exactly the same. It had different expressions or some text replacing the eyes of the bear and very often this bear was interacting with other pieces on the walls.

sabek. sabeknonsense, arteurbanomadrid, madrid

In 2014 Sabek was one of the artists La Banda del Rotu -crew that was in charge of painting with black marker pens the whole Moncloa metro station. The project was a collaboration among artists, Madrid Metro and Madrid Street Art Project. The crew of five artists painted the station for one month, day and night. Their pictures covered the walls of the station about six months.

bandadelarotu, sabek, moncloa, madrid, metrostationart

During the last few years Sabek has concentrated more on murals which he has painted all around the globe. Last week Sabek painted a mural on the top of the Pasila railway station in Helsinki. I had the opportunity to meet up with him. We discussed the works he has done and how he approaches his projects.

Tell me, why do you paint?
Well, it is something really hard to explain… It is my passion. It is more like a necessary act for me, I need to paint. The first painting I made was on a door in our house. I really liked the sensation it gave me. But I really don’t have a specific motive to paint. It is just pure expression. And irrational. I paint because I need it.

What kind of impression you wish to leave with your work?
It depends on the work. Sometimes I like to shock, sometimes to provoke a feeling. I’d rather trigger something in people than just please them.

How do you design your pieces?
I start with sketching on paper with a pencil. When I’m on the spot, I do some markings on the wall and add colours. I really improvise a lot while painting. It is a process that I do not always have a specific plan for. For example Pasila was a bit special project. I really needed to put an effort on it because we didn’t have that much time for painting it. It was a big surface and some areas of it were hard to reach. The painting site was also a bit unusual, high up in a rooftop. Therefore, for this project I did work in beforehand. I did a full sketch with all the colours what I don’t usually do. But I am very pleased with the result, it came out really nice.

sabek, pasilastation, urbanstreetarthelsinki, helsinki

It is a shame that your mural in Pasila is going to live only for few weeks before the station is demolished…?
Well, a bit, yes. But I knew it beforehand. And as we all know, it is a part of graffiti and street art world, the works usually have a very short life cycle. And hey, you can always ask me to come to Finland to paint another mural. I’d love to paint here something that would last longer.

Even if you are now a commissioned and well-known street artist, do you still go out and paint in the streets at night?
Of course! It is where I started all this. And it is great to have an opportunity to paint in another context with different criteria. To paint in the streets or in abandoned place and to express myself and experiment with new things… I think I will never stop doing it.

What are your most important objectives when painting a mural?
For me it is always a some kind of test. It is a test for myself how I can adapt to new things and new location. How can I improve myself so that I can be more content in every work I finish. It is about my personal growth as an artist.

Why do you use animal figures in your works?
For me it is a bit like turning back the time. Wild animals are now domesticated, slaughtered or killed for food and nutrition. There seems to be no sense on what is happening. We have lost our connection with the nature and it has happened so fast. I think there is no turning back. That’s why I use colour black in the animal figures. Black is the shadow on what is happening. I’m a bit pessimistic about our future. Then again I do see a little hope in the future therefore I do also use colour white in the animal figures. There is always two options we can choose from. This is also my message in my works.

How would you define yourself as an artist?
I’m versatile. I don’t concentrate or embrace just one thing. I like doing graffiti, big murals but also small illustrations on paper.

In Finland the Spanish street art is not yet very well known. Who are your own personal favourites?
Aryz, for me he is the best, a master. He makes huge murals and has a wonderful style and technique that I haven’t seen with anyone else. He is very honest, I like him a lot. I also like the works of Chylo and Suso33. They are all great painters I can somehow relate to.

Works of Sabek

  • moncloa, streetartmadrid, sabek, trainstation, madrid

More photos of Spanish street art
Sabek on Facebook
Sabek on Instagram


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