Cultural Mechanisms: Elian Chali Talks Cultural Relevancy, Murals, and Connectivity.

Allow me to introduce you to Elian Chali, an Argentinian muralist making a splash with his outstanding work.

Elian himself embraces and explores the intersections present in Latino culture in order to bombastically depict his interpretation of the inherent synergy he sees in all things.

This kind of energetic transmutation and repurposing of architecture truly symbolizes his powerful connection to the pulse of the city. In regards to this he stated that:

"I think that everything that influences us is all around us all the time, even though we think that is a specific moment. We only have to encourage ourself to make the connections, understanding that the world is more connected than what it seems."

Elian gives us the rundown in this informative interview.

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Prox: Tell us about your upbringing and the Argentinian landscape. What was it about art that initially piqued your interest and how did your environment influence this?

Elian: I was already connected with the Street before art. Punk, DIY culture, and skate were my initial bonding with the city. In time, what seemed like just a hobby became a research space and a life motive.

Córdoba, Argentina and Latinoamérica define us, without a doubt, just like all human beings on the planet in relation to their place. The socio-cultural context, history stained with blood and the heat of our days definitely influences us. Personally, it has given me a critical and political thought that I wouldn't change for anything.

Prox: How does murals allow you to express yourself in ways that a traditional canvas can not? Does this allow you to form a deeper connection to the cities that you’re working in?

Elian: I think they are different research or strong points. The studio experience allows an internal and silent journey, deep and reflexive. Public art is in constant tension and exposition to the unknown. You are building from the built. Interrupting a system series that already work perfectly trying to transform the days.

Prox: I think there is something so cool about the size of your work in relation to your stature. On a symbolic level, what do you think this represents about yourself and the human spirit?

Elian: Hehe, that could be a good topic in my life. Some people have interpreted that as some kind of trauma or inferiority complex. But the truth is that I relate with something else. It’s like a really loud scream, turn up the volume of the guitar to the maximum.

I think that today we are experiencing high levels of visual stimulation and the individuality of culture advances really fast; if we can’t make a clear message, the delicate gestures are not perceived. Just like the culture of excess that we live in today, the scale saturation, the size, are all part of the same mechanic. 

Plus, the dialogue with the city on a large scale is a good, confrontational way, to stop the real state machine.

Prox: Even though you primarily create abstract pieces, is there any particular feelings you’d like viewers to take away from your work?

Elian: Mmm… I like to think of my art as a mechanism relation system. I’m not that kind of artist that shows everything in the first impression of their artwork. To me, abstraction is like a language that allows endless emotional discussions. If I made music, theatre or movies, I would certainly think of similar ways to build meaning. There is nothing more boring to me than an artwork or artist that shows everything on the first image.

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Prox: How has art aided you in connecting with yourself on deeper level?

Elian: Art has been and is, my salvation and ruin. I don’t perceive art just like something I do while painting. The artistic practice is a life practice that I found in everything that I do. I don’t think in making art forever, I think in living the same way that I live now forever. With or without art.

When I say that it’s also my ruin is because art has helped me to see things that I couldn’t see before, and having the eyes wide open all the time can also be devastating for your soul, even though it's reality. Ignorance is bliss and sometimes I wish to be those who waste their life in front of Netflix (hehe, just kidding).

Prox: Who are some of your favorite artists, businessmen, and/or intellectuals at the moment?

Elian: I have a lot. For literature, I really like Michel Houellebecq and several Latino-Americans like Juan Rulfo, Mario Benedetti, Juan Carlos Castaneda, etc.

As for theoretic aspects I can’t stop naming the great Michel Foucault, indispensable readings in these days, also Paul B. Preciado that I think that have a quite updated view and comfortable readings. I think that Nicolás Bourriaud and his book Estética Relacional (Relational Aesthetics) are an obligated reading for this time.

The way that Juhani Pallasmaa built meaning about architecture, the way that Gordon Matta-Clark intervenes it, and the way that Justin McGuirk interprets the architecture (in his book Ciudades Radicales – Radical Cities) to me are great references.

The way of understanding the image of Hito Steyerl makes me think combined with the militancy of Julian Assange, everything is mixed!

I think that everything that influences us is all us around all the time, even though we think that is a specific moment. We only have to encourage ourself to make the connections, understanding that the world is more connected than what it seems. 

Prox: Could you give us some information on any upcoming projects or releases?

Elian: This year I would be making my first curatorial project. I was invited to being the curator in chief of the contemporary art fair in Córdoba, so it would be a very reflective and productive year. The artistic production would be as always in my studio and projecting tours to nourish my vision.

Prox: Final thoughts?

Elian: There is nothing that I could say that I haven’t said before. Appreciate the silence can be a revolution.

Follow Elian and check out more of his work on Facebook, Instagram, and his website.

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