Interview: Venezuelan street artist Garabato ARTe

I met Garabato ARTe when he was spending six months in India meshing wall art with environmental activism. The artist created a mammoth elephant sculpture from cans; one of many installations he completed.

His work is a direct riposte to those who believe that art should be only about aesthetics, conveying a multitude of viewpoints without ever taking sides. This is the problem that the late Italian novelist Umberto Eco called ‘the open work’. You can read everything in a contemporary work of art, so there’s no use in trying to actually say something outside self-expression. However, that isn’t what Garabato ARTe aka Ramon believes.

For him, it is possible for contemporary art to convey an ethic by connecting people with their deeper sense of what is right or wrong. For this very reason, his works aren’t restricted to the canvas. They encompass digital art, the short film format, sculptures and wall murals.

He was invited by an Indian artist-filmmaker to explore the country and bring murals to life in Pune and Mumbai. “They combine the message of recycling with endangered species and our precarious future if we continue ‘consuming’ things at the current rate,” he says.

Back in Miami, Ramon is an animator, filmmaker and art director. The bespectacled artist’s day job involves art direction for animated films and music videos by mainstream acts Sean Paul, Pitbull and Daddy Yankee, but he’d rather be known for his work as GarabatoArte, which roughly translates from Spanish to “crushed art”. His motif is the everyday can that has seeped into urban life through colas and soft drinks.

Ramon Brito

“I started dabbling in short films and animation five years ago, and then moved to digital art in a serious way,” he says. His work began gaining face after he pasted stickers all over the streets of New York and Miami, and turned the act into a short film on recycling. “If we humans don’t change our path of environmental destruction, the end of our ecosystems eventually means the end of us,” he says.

Cans entered his artistic aesthetic somewhere along the way, and have become the motif in his paintings and unusual metal sculptures. “The challenge is to achieve a 3D piece with the greatest possible amount of recycled materials.”

Elephant created entirely from recycled cans. ©Garabato ARTe

The quest has led him to create mammoth sculptures of elephants on his Indian stint. “This ancient mammal is dying because of our high speed cars, barbed wire walls and routes full of trains,” he says when you ask about the inspiration for the piece.

By Kasmin Fernandes

This interview was first published in Mumbai’s top city tabloid, Mid-Day

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