Mexican street artist and graphic illustrator, Edgar Flores, a.k.a. “Saner”, is known for his signature style of creating murals that are a combination of “illustration manners, expressionism, naive art and surrealism with street art techniques”. The artist is currently on his maiden trip to India as part of “Discover India and Mexico” project, and is busy making a grand mural in the Lodi Art District in Delhi.
“Discover India and Mexico” is an initiative by St+art India Foundation and Asian Paints that aims to bridge the cultural divide between India and Mexico.
For his mural in Delhi, Saner is using natural motifs, such as the tiger, cloud patterns and monkeys among others. “These elements incidentally have connections with both India and Mexico, as both the countries have a lot in common… The mural will also feature some iconic plants and animals, symbols from Hindu mythological stories, and traditional clothes of women. You have to respect the streets, the people, and the neighbourhoods. Through the mural, we wanted to have a visual interaction with the local neighbourhood. This wall is like a mixtape of India and Mexico. It can be possibly titled—Discover India and Mexico. It’ll depict the richness of the countries—their textiles, flavours, colours and the streets,” Saner told Guardian 20.
The masked figures in his murals carry a symbolic significance. When asked about their importance in his art, he answered, “These characters signify that we carry around a fake identity instead of our real face just to survive… The good point is that you have the opportunity to showcase certain things through the mask—like the energy of the tiger, jaguar or any animal. The mask represents the thought behind
Saner’s art accommodates seemingly paradoxical ideas—like tradition and innovation, violence and tenderness, simplicity and complexity. He intends to “capture people’s attention—even for a minute to make them think about life, love, society, the government and to make them reassess the world around”.
Saner believes that street art is a “resilient” form. “Murals are a very strong communication tool as a lot of people have access to them. If someone passes beside a wall that has any art, he or she will give at least a thought to the meaning behind it. When you bring art to the streets, people see different patterns and colours and somehow unknowingly it impacts their thinking in one way or the other. Street art broadens your horizons and communicates the things that are left unsaid or ignored,” he said.
Street art, in recent years, has also emerged as a powerful medium of social critique. It works as a mirror help up to society. About the many ways street art can impact the surroundings, Saner said, “I think street art adds a certain vibrancy to any locale. What graffiti depict and communicate is important for the society to see, and it is important to recognise that. Street art has the power to make economic, cultural and social contributions to societies. It is one of the few remaining ways through which we can respond to our surroundings in an expressive, public way. I think street art is very interesting because whoever sees it has an opportunity to say something about it.”
Saner also reflected on the growth of street art from once being a symbol of “urban noise” to becoming a powerful means of artistic self-expression. He said, “An image is a powerful tool to create and convey feelings, situations and scenarios… It holds great power.”
All artists have a social responsibility, and street artists are no exception. “An artist through his or her art provokes the society to think. Every artist chooses the topic they want to talk about and real art is made with passion and love; it shows us some part of our reality. All art, including street art, is the mirror reflects the veracity of any situation—political, cultural or religious,” he said.
Saner’s images often carry personal themes. He uses everyday motifs to create murals that transcend reality. Since his creative process hugely depends on his observations, his artistic mission is to “convey” his observations to the world and elicit some kind of response.
Where does he draw his artistic inspiration from? Saner replied, “Street art from the late 1990s was an inspiration to me. Then, the government in Mexico used murals as an educational tool for a mostly illiterate populace. The best way to reach out to the people was through images, so they started to commission big murals to tell the story of our past. The current local muralists in Mexico are phenomenal and they inspire me to keep bettering my work. I get influenced by artists from other countries as well—from the US, the Arab region among others.”