Poised on the crossroads of illegality, irreverence, defacement and quite often vandalism, stands the ‘art’ of graffiti.
Born out of a need for an expression of social and political issues and quite often for the purpose of laying claim on a certain territory, graffiti ranges from simple written words or drawings to elaborate wall paintings on surfaces that are most likely to be seen by the public.
Martin Heuwold, aka MEGX, born and brought up in Wuppertal, Germany took to graffiti whilst growing up and indulged in the game of ‘I was here!’ on many a bus and lift.
Using stealth he got away with laying his trademark (art-work) on public transport even in the daytime. Not entirely satisfied with what he considered ‘inconspicuous’, his desire for self expression took him to higher levels; he spray painted numerous large scale images on trains and monorails.
Soon enough Martin’s luck started running out. He was arrested by the authorities a number of times and subsequently after several court hearings and serving the consequential sentences, something positive emerged from his daring and dangerous occupation.
The authorities and people at large started appreciating his skill per se and the very same people who were once thirsty for his blood requested him to turn his passion over on its head and to allow it to attain the respectability and reverence it deserved. He was asked to give structure to his craft and to display it legally and exclusively on pre-determined surfaces.
So dedicated was Martin to the culture of graffiti that he visited several corners of the world and his pursuit and passion took him to cities known for the presence of like-minded artists. In his quest to garner newer techniques and skills he visited Vienna, Moscow, Lanzarote and New York. Here he shared as well as learnt more about this rapidly developing art form whose value is highly contested in present times.
When asked about how he decides what he is going to paint on a particular surface, Martin says, “Each job presents me with new challenges and the only thing that helps me is the experience of past years. The most important thing is a good idea and this should never be forced!
Martin tries to mostly use exterior paint as his work has to stand up to vagaries of weather being displayed in the outdoors. All the same, he is quite capable of picking up whatever is at hand and giving it a go. “Basically you can do anything with any colour…” he feels.
Given a choice between canvasses and facades, Martin is sure to pick facades every time. When asked if he could see himself moving away from graffiti art and starting to paint on some other things like canvas for example, Martin shares, “ A few years ago I painted nothing else but canvasses, but at the moment I prefer to paint facades.
Martin confesses at not being that great a student in his growing years; back then at the age of 13 skateboarding filled his life. Subsequently he got infected with the art of spray painting and graced many a street corner with his works.
Martin says, “For me it was absolutely fascinating to get recognition and respect, through my graffiti, but that was then, I have evolved over the last 23 years and I hope this evolution never stops!”
Text By Mala Bajaj
Photographs Courtesy The Artist