Skount (Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, 1985), currently based in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). Inspired by the classical Spanish theatre of the town where he spent the most of his childhood (Almagro), Skount’s oneiric masked characters beckon the viewer from the urban environment into their mysterious and playful dreamscapes. The great playwrights of Skount’s youth formed a lasting impression, where he regards life as a wonderful play, in which everyone has a role.
Driven by the fundamental desire to free his own mind, Skount’s creativity knows no bounds. With a background in Street art, his artistic expression spans paint, paper, music and performance, to video art, sculpture, and installation. Yet Skount always comes back to masks. Humans the world over, have used masks since ancient times for sacred rituals, as ornamentation, and in performances and theatre. The mask disguises the identity of its wearer, and symbolizes the need to hide or repress a person’s desires, fears and concerns. Skount observes that everybody carries a mask, with it we conceal our identity and adopt a more socially acceptable image to get by day to day. But we can also choose the moments and people with whom we can reveal our true nature, and take off our masks.
Skount’s irrepressible curiosity for other cultures has inspired him to travel and study different forms of creativity and traditions around the world. Skount has worked and exhibited throughout Spain, Europe, Japan, China, Israel, Australia, Mexico and the United States.
“Dreams are not just a message (a coded message, at that), but also an aesthetic activity, a game of the imagination that has its own value. Dreams are proof that fantasies–emotional immersion in the visualization of events that have never and may never occur– are one of the profoundest necessities for human life…The characters that come from my imagination are my own possibilities, those that never came to bear, or those still on my horizon…”
Could you tell us a little about yourself, where you´re from and how did you get started in the urban art scene?
I come from Almagro (La Mancha, Spain) land of noble knights and told in the Cervantes’ Novel (Don Quixote). My hometown has an important history, the conqueror of Chile was born there, making the architecture of the town unique in the area, with notable Hispanic American influences. Also it is the first Templar settlement, which makes that the town has a big religious infrastructure. The main square was a gift from the kings of Brussels in the sixteenth century and there is a “Corral de comedias” (theater type) unique in the world.
I started painting graffiti in 99 really influenced by Hip-hop culture but it was not until 2005 that I began a deeper study of my land, its stories and other artistic disciplines what made me totally change my view of how to perform my work. Growing up surrounded by theatrical charm and stories of knights, one could say that my work is influenced notably by these aspects, in turn I have traveled extensively in Latin America, this influence is also rooted in some of my works.
Do you have a formal education?
I started to study arts but at the second year I left the studies and I start to rediscover myself and feel interest in other things arts school could not provide, so I can say that I and self-taught artist.
Your art is one of a kind. Could you describe the development process of your artwork?
I started painting graffiti in 99 but it was not until 2005 that I began a deeper study of my land, its stories and other artistic disciplines what made me totally change my view of how to perform my work. After that I started to paint more abstract artworks with pigments and water (in a way of freedom my mind and a process of cleaning it from the past), later organic abstract colorful forms inspired in the pure nature, them I started to made geometric wood sculptures in the middle of the nature, inspired in the Russian Constructivism and Art Povera.
Right now I am more focus on my theater characters, that always were with me. I grow up surrounded by theatrical charm and stories of knights, one could say that my work is influenced notably by these aspects, in turn I have traveled extensively in Latin America, Europe and Asia this influence is also rooted in some of my works. And all the feelings, sensation and emotions the people that I meet, the situations that I live every day also influences in my works.
So it is difficult to explain an exactly way of development process of my artworks.
How do you go about creating your art piece? How do you choose a wall/environment?
Right now I really like to think an idea, a concept, do a study what I want to say, I think in the past I was more spontaneous.
The most of the time the people don’t understand what I want to say maybe because sometimes I paint my artworks from so deep of me so is a really personal vision, because i think finally I paint because for me is a fundamental necessity to express myself, and sometimes it can be a little bit abstract.
When I choose a mural, I like that the mural has a kind of history, so I really like to paint in old and abandon buildings, because I love the texture that usually this buildings has and because my artwork is going to be part of the history of the building. I don’t really think if other people are going to see the mural, I just choose the spot that I really want to paint and doesn’t matter if it is in a area that’s nobody pass around.
How much does your art affect or influence your everyday life and are there any role models or artists who inspired you?
Is really difficult say what influences somebody, because for example for me I think everything influences me, every moment that I live is recorded in my subconscious, so Trips to different parts, feelings in different moments of my life, people that I met or I meet, different conversations, images that I see, situations, a song a book that I read, fascinations for different cultures. Everything is recorded in my mind and processed so everything that is part of my life is part of me, so in one point everything influences me. So my art is totally connected to my everyday life.
Has your style developed throughout the years?
I’ve had my art in different stages and these have been linked to me, to my mood, my feelings, my different concerns and studies. Also my technique and the way of how I paint have changed with the years about hard working and keep doing each day. I’ve matured as a person, so my art has matured with me.
What are your thoughts on the way the internet is influencing the artworld?
I try to don’t think too much in this, I`ve never been good in emails and internet stuff. I think in one way is really good key to show your art quick to everybody and connect with other people, artist and find new events, exhibition and also to discover a lot of new things that other people are doing, and what is happening around the word just with one click, so by this way is awesome!
But I think too that it can be dangerous, in the point that some people just create to send their picture to blogs or websites to be famous as soon they can, so finally their art can be neglected (without meaning or sense) by the other hand if you don’t send pictures to those places, nobody know who you are and don’t know your art, also I think in the last years some art blogs became so powerful and everybody look for artists there and these art blogs don’t publish you is really difficult to access to events or exhibitions.
Which countries have you visited to paint so far and where did you like it best?
Almost all Europe, Israel, China, Japan, Australia, Mexico, United States, but I can’t choose a best one, because every place has his magic atmosphere, I really like to be in contact with the people and culture of the place that I visit and them if can or I feel in the mood, I paint something, but I can’t choose a favorite place.
Have you painted in the USA? If so, how was your experience like?
I travelled for the first time to USA last year to do an exhibition there, and was a great experience; I couldn’t travel too much around the country because I was a short time but I met a lot of people and I had really nice situations, finally I painted in Los Angeles 2 murals, and I think the people were excited and interested maybe because my art is a king of different that the people usually can see there. I hope come back soon.
What are your views on racism, injustice and human rights?
Just to answer this question I will need another interview… but in general I think we and the all world is fucked up, and is really difficult to see the light from the hole that we stay.
Is there a message in your art?
I think more than a message is a study, and then you can look or find a message in each artwork.
After years in my opinion everybody wear a mask in a metaphorical sense, maybe I started to paint characters with masks heavily influenced by my childhood in constant contact with the theatrical culture of my hometown. I have seen many theater and fascinated me and fascinates, typical of the “Golden Age” classic style: prints, pompoms, tails, wore masks … and that attracted me. Also, I was inspired by my trips to Mexico, South America, China … The truth is that I started drawing these characters in 2004 in Barcelona when fully left the graffiti in the pure sense of the word. It was a time of conflict in myself and I started to feel better at drawing these fictional characters (maybe we were just an extension of me, my dreams or my deepest desires).
I started researching what the masks and the mental state of human beings. I think we all generally wear a mask every day, in metaphorical sense which makes us adopt a more socially acceptable image. It is a way of acting against society and gradually weaving a fictitious identity going to teach people. In general, very few people are freed from the burden (mask) sometimes even think I’d never fully liberate this mask, because at some point it becomes part of oneself.
All these investigations, lived situations, travel and cultures blend to create what I do today.
After all this process, I wondered why my characters should bring masks? When you get rid of this fictional mask, which is what is in you? Empty? Or a font color that emanates from you? I ‘m working hard on it lately , investigating identity disorder , what society tries you to be ( When I say this I mean a few people controlling group and dictates how to be this ) , such as religious beliefs we model, the problems family … everything generates an identity crisis self and live day to day. So I am working on lately without masks, in what is left once we let go of her. Sometimes it can be empty and pure darkness, for what we were at home and we have already disappeared completely dehumanize.
Basically, my research work on the mental state of human beings and how we relate between people and things around us , as we release sometimes masks or simply live our whole life behind her . In the end, it is a fictional work about identity to the society we live in and the universe.
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?
I don’t know I just go and paint, usually I paint in abandoned buildings far away to the city center, so usually the people don’t care about it, and I try to don’t think too much in the law, if not I don’t paint. I have had a few problems with the law but more in the past when I used to paint more graffiti.
It’s strange, but if the people see you painting with one spray, you are a vandal, but if you are painting the same with acrylic and brush, you are an artist. Ridiculous perception of some people.
What have been your most challenging and rewarding piece of work thus far?
I don’t know, but I think always is the last one, because I try when I create that each piece is a challenge if not I will be bored really soon.
What do you do when you are not creating art? What are your hobbies?
Cooking, because I am also a chef, also I do music and I love travel around to discover new cultures and people and go to the middle of the nature, walk and get lost per hours, I love cycling too.
What’s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?
I inaugurated last week 3-Vertex, a group show of abstract paintings at “La casa del rector” art space in Almagro, Spain.
Upcoming events and projects:
– “Mythe & Muze” group show in homage to Frida Kahlo, curated by Go gallery, in Amsterdam.
– “Street meet” event in Wuerzburg, Germany.
– “Bloom art fair” in Köln.
– Mural tour around Germany.
– Group show with HX collective in Hamburg.
And maybe before the end of the year, go back to Japan to paint few murals.
Any words of advice for aspiring new artists?
Keep working hard and be faithful to your thoughts and feelings, soak in what is around you and takes advantage of it.
SAUS would like to thank Skount for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish him luck and a good summer, and we hope we stay in touch.