LSD Magazine interviews Milo Tchais

Issue Five – Coming of Age – August 11th 2010

Brazilian Londoner Milo Tchais’s rhapsodies of swirling form and joyous colour have been setting the streets of London and the wider firmament alight for many a year now. Synthesising radiant elements from the natural world with the gently distorting mirror of imagination, his otherworldly human forms nestle into an orgy of spiraling abstraction and a landscape of explosive inner space. Silky movement glides through the figurative prism and lifts layer after layer of texture into a joyous sea of celebration, reflection, exploration, and transcendental wanderings through the third eye. We spoke to Milo

 We know your self taught but how long did it take to master your craft?

I haven’t mastered it yet… But it has been 13 years of streets and 5 of studio dedication to get to where my style is now.

What influenced your decision to paint on the streets in the first place?

I was drawn to the pixação writing style, the hardcore tagging scene specific to Sao Paulo, it’s what turned my attention to urban street writing, and a love for letter styling in the first place. In spite of never having been a true “writer” (one who does graffiti), my urge to go out and paint was to do pixação in the very beginning, as there is a very thin membrane but sometimes a big gap between the graffiti and pixação scenes which keeps merging and splitting constantly, depending on the artist and point of view. Pixaçao was what I saw at first as a little kid around the streets during the first generation and with a second just emerging of writers influenced by the hip-hop graffiti painting in São Paulo with little visual information around, and the wonders of the virtual world not yet established. More influences and magazines came about, and seeing more pieces and murals, I quickly got hooked and found myself doing panels almost every day around the city, which developed into murals and big productions.

milo-mYour colourful murals have been gracing London walls for years, how long you been painting here?

Nine years now, and not just walls have been graced in that time…

Your work has an almost off planet feel to them, tell us a little about the natural worlds you paint?

Nature has always played a big part in my life, and is a big influence in my work. But I’m also very interested in the mental power of imagination, and how the inner world becomes part of the outer, collective, world. Even though it has a dreamy feel, I believe this mind power, which turns possibilities into something unique that can be shared, is exactly what connects us and everything together. And it is in fact imagery very directly connected to what we perceive as reality, consciousness, and the building blocks of the universe.

What influences your character designs?

Our Mother and Home, Earth, this whole natural and conscious world, love, and people I’ve met through my life. Cartoon and graffiti designs, oriental illustration, expressionism, impressionism, fauvism, worldwide motifs and patterns. And that’s apart from abstract styles, lines and shapes sparked from spray painting, designing and filling pieces and murals and a lot of sketching.

milo-cColour plays a big part in South American street art, how important is colour to your work?

Essential. The colour pallate and scheme is a big area of research in my work. One wrong shade can spoil everything.
Your murals have a positive spiritual feel to them, do you set out to create an escape for viewers on the street or did it just happen that way?

A combination of both I’d say. Painting has always been an escape and search for and of myself, I guess, and as I went further and further, I felt the need to create and leave something in the world which is positive, for my own and everyone else’s sake. I can see reality as a mirror of our minds, and vice versa, in a reciprocal process, and if people are open to this positivity , and singing the same tune, the love will spread. We’re living in a mad and important period of being, and there is more and more bad, useless and controlling news and imagery bombarding us every second we’re awake  in a western media dominated environment. We’ve got enough of that, and it’s time to open our minds and hearts for the next step in existence and it’s my contribution towards that at the same time as it is my own journey and search that happened to go that way. Gaia Calls!
We love the elephant you did for the Elephant Parade 2010, tell us a little about your reasons for getting involved in this project?

It seemed like a project supporting causes directly related to my work and point of view, as you’ve probably noticed with what I’ve said so far. It was a great opportunity to bring people’s attention to what is going on around our planet, to try and make a difference for this endangered animal, and our environment as a whole. And it ended up  putting me in a mindset where I’ve produced one of my best gallery pieces to this day, and definitely the best charity project I’ve done so far, there were some great results.

milo-jYou’ve painted with artists around the world, do you think the global street art scene is still strong?

Well, “street art” as most people know now days didn’t come about that long ago, and more and more branches keep sprouting in different directions, from the need to go out, and express your ideas in an urban environment, make it our own, no matter what you do. “Street art” as it is perceived today, could be seen as just one of them and it’s only recently that I’ve seen it actually establishing itself and making a difference in the broader art world and market, so there is still a lot of room left to grow and so many different routes to be achieved and consolidated. It’s a no set rule art and urban expression movement, in terms of aesthetic and medium I’d say, so people can be very personal about it, without being right or wrong and still be called street art, which makes the possibilities endless. The problem starts when people want to classify and specify everything to turn into a recognisable and saleable product, which can be dangerous for the very essence of the culture. For me it’s very difficult to start categorising how artists paint and treat an urban environment as there are so many specific works dialoguing with this possibility, so street art has very broad meaning for me. But I’m tired of seeing people that call their art street art but knowsplainly zero to none about doing non commercial projects for the fun of it on the streets or an urban environment.

How do you feel spiritually when exhibiting your work to the outside world?

Fulfilled. I see the dialogue, the interiorizing and interpretation by the viewer as the final stage of a finished piece of art.
Do you enjoy working with others or do you prefer the lone wolf route?

There is always a reaction in life, no matter what there is a new experience and more wisdom to be taken from it. I like to experiment and working in different set situations, which makes you learn different skills, not just alone or with others. There is a beauty in having varied ways of going about it, and mastering that way. I can’t compare working in a group or on my own. I enjoy both. Feeling glad about a piece you’ve done on your own is different from one you feel when something really worked as a group.

milo-aWhat other mediums do you use to present your art? 

In terms of materials I use, I’ve worked with a wide range on a trade as well, which every so often I’ll bring into a piece or installations for exhibitions, like wood, poly, plaster, steel and metals, resins, shellacs, perspex, anything I can get my hands on and put it together to turn an idea into reality. I’ve got a collective project on the go with another two artists, Raphael Franco and Bianca Turner, for example, which mixes painting, planting, and video documenting in an “abandoned” urban space. And in terms of how I present it, it depends a bit on where and why is there, I’ve done some sound collages and used video for exhibitions, additions to theater sets and interiors, and varied bespoke designs and workshops for events and venues. It can vary a lot, but for me there is nothing like spray painting a huge surface and then stand back to appreciate it, despite the important aspect being to give something for people to take and spread around in their own understanding

What instantly comes to mind if asked where you’d paint if you had the choice of any wall in the world?

Walls in the four corners of the world. One that makes me explore and broaden horizons.

Can you maybe describe the difference between street art in Brazil and London?

Every city has its own particularities, flavours and routes I guess. It’s difficult to point out the differences, it’s a totally different cultural, social and political reality, the possibilities and peoples mindsets are directly related to how society is organised, or disorganised. Sao Paulo has very few metro and train lines compared to London for instance, not many artists go out to hit track sides, but it has so many more flat big walls and shutters around the city, which you are better off painting during the day. Social reality gives you certain possibilities and obstacles. So as for some reason, in Brazil the pixação scene seems to take most of the blame, and removes the pejorative sense of graffiti for society, let alone the young street art – both much more widely seen as a “true” artistic expression than in Europe, and much more blended together than here I’d say as well. If you are not painting letters, or pixação, you get away with it on most walls, and the council wouldn’t probably buff it even if it is beside a colour letter piece that they would…

milo-iYou’ve worked with dozens of artists in Brazil, would you mind naming some for readers?

Tim Tchais, family; Highraff, Prozak7, Japone, Zézão, Boleta, Tinho, Binho, Does, Flip, Dev, Eno, Caur, Waleska, Traços, Presto, Mea, Cesar Profeta, TitiFreak, Chivitz, Ramon Martins, Carlos Dias, Daniel Melim, Pato, NdRua, Gueto, Paulo Ito, Ciro Schu, DedoVerde, the list goes on and I’m sure I left some out, but it’s too many to mention that I met through my walks which done and are doing their bit out there, even though readers here perhaps don’t know some of them, it’s worth checking out their stuff. Niggaz RIP!

Are many Brazilian artists adopting the traditional graffiti format?

Yes, it’s still strong, with some people still doing since the very beginning, and with a lot of young artists as well. And I’d say that there is a big wave back into thow-up and quick letter styles in the streets of São Paulo, which I really like, especially after the “Clean-City” operation, an adopted policy by the mayor which saw the streets ban public billboards and adverts and business signage reduced to a maximum size. With that, teams of mobile “buffers” were put together to spray white-wash, more like greyish, any public walls, sometimes private, which is “messy”, on a weekly basis. Which makes you want to do fresh quick pieces all the time, and not something you’d spend some time and paint on, as it will probably get buffed as a non-authorised wall. Even full productions on an authorised private wall were known to have been buffed. It’s always refreshing to see a well balanced letter style, from the new and old dogs which still out there doing it, I love letters!

Do the Brazilian authorities adopt the same zero tolerance approach to street art and graffiti as they do in Europe?

Not at all, prosecution laws are very slack in that area, unless you are doing steel, it’s very unlikely you’d get arrested and I’ve never known anyone who went to jail for it over there. Even if you were, it would be as an environmental offense which in theory can lead to quite heavy penalties, but there is no dedicated investigation whatsoever there

milo-dDo you have any shows planned for the upcoming months?

I’ve been talking with some galleries and agents, putting ideas together and working on some brand new material. I’ve got quite a few private commissions to be delivered in the next months, so I’m concentrating in having a solo show towards the end of the year, but the gallery is not confirmed yet, any proposals please get in touch… and I’d surely keep the online world posted about it, so stay tuned.

Anything else you’d like to share with LSD readers?

Mutual respect, higher consciousness, reciprocating synergy, awareness of alienation, oppose power and control systems, love yourself, others who love you, nature, the cosmos and the spirits. Be what YOU want, not what others WANT you to be like. I’m tired of most of our race being stepped upon and strangled to within an inch of death so that there is no other way out other to accept any bullshit forced down our throats
Be wise
Bless all

milo-lMilo Tchais Website 

Issue Five – Coming of Age – August 11th 2010