Interview: Obie Platon

Obie, who is from Bucharest (Romania), began his artistic path in 2000. He studied Architecture, is the founder of URBANART ROMANIA Association supporting contemporary artists and urban art initiatives, and also of the contemporary art and culture magazine FORMAJE Artfiles.
He is known for the five different styles and characters that he developed since he started, each corresponding to a specific platonic form and element (earth, air, water, fire, and the universe). In the past years, the work of Obie Platon has evolved into a thought-provoking, distinct and diverse visual language that currently defines his highly complex murals, his experimental canvases and conceptual sculptures and installations.
His artworks are inspired by the platonic geometry and philosophy, but also influenced by Romanian culture, social beliefs and popular imagery. The geometric patterns collide, juxtapose or simply intersect with powerful symbols and meanings that rise from a constant interest in today’s social contexts.
He has participated in numerous mural art projects in Romania, Europe and China, and in exhibitions focused on painting, installation and optical illusions techniques.

I had the opportunity to have a little chat with this up and coming artist, and below is how it went down.

 Shanghai, Shanghai, China, 2014, collaboration with William ChouCould you tell us a little about yourself, where you´re from, and how did you get started in the urban art scene?
I am currently based in Bucharest, Romania, I’ve started my activity in 1999, at an early age, and since then all evolved naturally, along with the evolution of the internet and other media that helped me reach the information I was interested in.
At the beginning, it was mostly about b-boying and graffiti for me, but later my studies in Architecture have directed me towards what I do today.

Do you have a formal education?
I’ve studied Technical Design, Architecture, Mathematics, all underlying my style. Since childhood, I’ve been attracted to geometry, art and urban space, which led to the choice of an Architecture faculty.

How do you go about creating your art piece? How do you choose a wall/environment?
Each project is a new challenge, and each time I deal with a new urban context, different kinds of people, different environment, and this keeps my creativity running.

First of all, the wall and its shape is what matters, its imperfections inspire me for the first ideas. I am influenced in my choice by the surface of the wall, but I also use symbols that reflect the urban spirit of the place where I create.
Pollution, Shanghai, 2014How much does your art affect or influence your everyday life and are there any role models or artists who inspired you?
Keeping in mind that all I do revolves around art, of course, there is a constant evolution. It has become a lifestyle, as a result of street art being a priority for me.

I think that it is important to go through the experiences of other artists, inspiration and know-how are also helpful, at least at the beginning.

Mother Nature - Madame Mezzanine character, Budapest, 2014Has your style developed throughout the years?
Every new finished work makes me feel the need to overcome limits, and I believe this constant need to move forward is what motivated me to be where I am today.

I’ve started with old school graffiti, exclusively illegal, then I went from letters to 5 different styles that have translated into 5 fictional characters. Inspired by the platonic solids, each geometric form corresponds to a certain character and to a period in my life.

What are your thoughts on the way the internet is influencing the artworld?
As a visual artist, Internet is where I can interact with other artists, but in my opinion the street is where people express themselves sincerely.
The internet makes art reach people that are not necessarily interested in art, but it makes it comfortable for people to see the work online and not go to see it live, to experience it at its fullest potential.
In street art it is important to see the work on the real wall. Mural art exists within a certain urban ambient and there are details that are lost on the internet.
Platonic Forms Story - Walk & Talk Azores Festival 2014Have you painted in the USA? If so, how was your experience like?
USA is the only major continent for me where I did not paint yet. It’s one of my main objectives for 2015, so keep in touch.

Do you travel to do street art or do you do street art when you travel?
I often visit touristic places where I don’t even see the monuments or other tourist attractions, as I am rather interested in the urban space, the people and the need to have an intervention and create a work addressing the people who share the public space. So, when I travel, I spend most of my time painting and interacting with people.

Roger Waters The Wall, Bucharest, 2013, collaboration with Cache (LA)Is there a message in your art?
There is always a message, even though I do not convey it through text/ letters. The colors, the symbolism, the geometry that I use in my works depend on the urban context and are based on messages that reflect the culture, history and urban myths of the place.

Street art is still considered vandalism, how is it for you to go out and paint in the street? Did you ever have any problems with the law?
It depends on the context. A form of destruction, of vandalism, does not necessarily take place in the street, as long as cars, advertising, radio and TV exist as vandalism and have a negative impact on people. Street art is sincere and delivers undistorted messages.

In the definition of vandalism, spray is not mentioned, you can vandalize in many ways, but our purpose is to expose art among people, to get art outside of the box/ gallery space, and share it with the community.

What have been your most challenging and rewarding piece of work thus far?
I think the biggest challenge so far was the wall for Walk&Talk Azores Festival, of 100m length and 8m height, completed in only 5 days.
Allan Dalla Character, Germany, 2013What do you do when you are not creating art? What are your hobbies?
Art is the center of my everyday activity, and all I do is related to art.

What’s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?
2014 was a year full of important projects – in Budapest, Azores, , and here at home. I am already working on my agenda for the next year, and there will be several exhibitions that I will announce at the right time.

Shanghai, China, 2014, collaboration with William Chou - detailAny words of advice for aspiring new artists?
You don’t do street art with a spray can, creativity is what fuels street art.

SAUS would like to thank Obie for his time, and hopefully we will see him stateside in the near future.

Obie Platon

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