Natural heroes – Louis Masai

Written by MjauApril 16, 2017

How did you gather the resources to create murals all around the world? Are there support groups out there looking to fund artists pertained with ecopolitics and environmental awareness?

Well every wall is different. A lot of what i do is self initiated, for example the art of beeing was totally a project i dreamt up, I found people to coexist within the model and the people I chose to work with were environmentally thinking people… Without their inclusion, the project wouldn’t have happened. But they aren’t responsible for the initiating of that particular project. Recently I have been invited to do walls with street art/mural projects, but they are interested in more the actual mural as a whole, the fact that I am painting about the sixth extinction crisis is an added attraction for them I guess, but they aren’t environmental projects… That being said I have worked with synchronicity earth on a few projects which involved painting walls, I have a good working relationship with them and we often cross pollinate each other’s projects.

Name some artists (past or contemporary) who have inspired your to embark on this creative tour.

I get asked this a lot. And to be honest I’m not even sure what the answer to that is, what I do know is that if it wasn’t for the contemporary art movement that i am a part of now then 7 years ago i would not have had the drive to do it for myself. What I mean is that without the modern day way of sharing creativity and information in general I wouldn’t have believed it was possible to be an artist and make a living from it. I don’t think art school taught me to want to be a professional artist – it was to pessimistic in that sense I guess. So the answer i guess is not an individual per say but an actual movement.

What sparked your interest in endangered species?

Curiosity – a desire to paint animals that i hadn’t ever heard of before. Then I realised they were endangered and that made me sad. I progressively gravitated towards the idea of raising the profiles of these species.

Has your art always been marked by a sense of environmental awareness and urgency, did it begin with the message to save our planet’s dying species?

No not at all… At first it was all about learning techniques, the interest in being a voice, organically happened as result of realising how powerful of a tool public art is.

What does being an eco-artist mean to you?

Im not fond of that terminology because its too much of a responsibility to carry and I don’t think that I’m working in a completely eco friendly way either so it would make me a contradiction… I don’t like contradicting myself, the fact that I create discussions that revolve around environmental issue as a result of my paintings is all I’m striving for at the moment.

What are some of the stand out responses you have received from your work?

I can’t think of any in particular.

Do you plan to explore this project your entire career? Are there other similarly related projects we can expect on species endangerment and climate change?

My work is always developing and I’m sure it will continue to do so, there are many discussion to be had that cover similar topics so I’m sure it will at some point discuss animal rights or something similar.

Describe your style within the animal stencil? What is the purpose of having a vibrant and colorful filling within the mural piece?

My work is all free hand, I don’t use stencils. The concept behind the work is that if a species isn’t preserved only toys and souvenirs will be left, relics of a past time. My paintings are based on patchwork quilted plush toys. I like the use of patchwork because this is something that as humans we are not utilising in the same way as in the past. Its part of our existence that is becoming extinct. I like looking for ways to reference human culture inside my work, as a little acknowledgement to humans and animals co existing.

How would you try to relate this severe environmental issue to someone who does not know of your work and is unaware of the catastrophic changes working against our planet?

Well if I was the one talking to this person then i’d probably show them my work and go from there as that’s the way I find easiest to explain these issues.

Do you have any word of advice or suggestions for emerging artists? Especially to those bridging activism and their own personal aesthetic.

Do what feels right to you, make sure you fact check and enjoy it, life is about having fun…

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