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The plan is to open a true gallery

Interview with Noriaki*, a Poznań graphic designer, street artist and winner of the IKS and Kulturapoznan.pl public vote for the Man of Culture 2017/2018.

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photo: Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania

The year 2018 for you has been what the Black Album was for Metallica. Over the last twelve years, you have been listed in the top ten tips of The Guardian's guide to Poznań by Richard Mellor. Your Watcher ended up on the front door of the Department of Culture at Poznań City Hall, and even made an appearance in "Ready Player One", a Hollywood super production by Steven Spielberg. You have also become a winner of the IKS and Kulturapoznan.pl vote... You received the award for "revitalising, transforming and interpreting urban spaces, surprising people and pulling them out of a rut". The record number of 804 votes you received showed what powerful emotions you evoke in your audiences...

It is fantastic to see that on the occasion of the public vote, Poznań is opening up to the rich street-art culture and engaging in debates. I am very happy to have the Watcher make its own contribution. I have been following the responses on Facebook. A wide range of people have commented on my activities, others have walked around and collected photos of my artwork, purely because it pleases them. The chance alone of trying to spot street art, not only mine, is satisfying to both artists and the public. 

Your latest distinction reignites the never-ending debate on vandalism and street art.

This topic keeps coming back and I invariably stress that I like people to give something to others, even if it is only a doodle. Because this gives people something to ponder. No matter what form art assumes, it is of value as long as it starts a dialogue and sets things in motion, preferably inspiring other art. 

How did the Watcher evolve?

The early version had a different eye shape. Generally, I have changed the geometry of the figure. It took a while for the Watcher to assume a specific appearance and size. It took time to produce the human-like shape with the eye, but I have stopped making any changes now. The second stage of the evolution was to play with other forms, such as four little legs, wings or the figure of a four-hooved creature. 

Why is there only one eye?

Ever since I started to paint, I used parabolic motion. I always finished my work with one eye, although I don't know what exactly that means. Perhaps this alludes to Picasso's eye, which has always inspired me to some extent? I can't explain it fully. What I do know though is that this has been with me since childhood; the eye featured in my very first paintings. 

Do you have any bigger plans to set up a place of your own?

There are already a few premises using the Watcher as their leading theme, which are run by my closest friends. However, the latest plan is to open a real gallery, which is something I have always wanted. I also have a very large art collection which I keep investing in and I would certainly like to do something with it. I can reveal here that the place is almost ready but I feel I need to roam the world a bit first before the time comes for me to settle down and open its doors. While only two months ago, I was sure the place would be in Poznań, I am no longer so sure as so much is changing around me. Barcelona is changing its perspective and since I have been there, I have explored and followed the local artistic scene. I simply don't know yet what is going to happen and where. 

Do you dream of any particular place in which you would like to paint the Watcher? 

It is hard to say - certainly New York is on my list, the city being a mecca for graffiti artists. Although Berlin is equally vibrant, all things considered, my main preference is the United States... San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles. Generally, I want to tour America. I don't want to make it a brief visit of two or three weeks but rather make it a solid four to five months, much like what I am doing in my explorations of Barcelona. That of course requires time and money. All this is ahead of me. 

Is there a code or a set of rules you follow in picking the sites for your paintings? Are they homes, churches, the presidential palace? 

My home, of all things, is not a problem, it would actually be most appropriate. There are places though where I never paint as that would make no sense. The risk of painting on the wall of a church or the presidential palace would be uncalled for and a waste of time as my work would have to be scrubbed off on the following day anyway. You have to know what you are doing and pick places where the Watcher fits - that's what this home game is about! The Watcher is not a solitary being that just stands there staring. You can use the location to make people think a little by alluding to the atmosphere of the place. While many factors have influenced the Watcher's shape, format and size, it has always needed to fit into the architecture and character of a specific site. These are the kinds of things that excite me the most. 

Would you accept the job of painting a full-sized mural, several meters high if approached by the city? 

You bet. But it all depends on the space and the building itself, whether there is window that could act as an eye, or a façade that would inspire a whole theme of several figures. Deep down, I think it is only a matter of time, because it is a great idea. I am open to all kinds of requests. I have done entire building walls before, not entire blocks of flats though. This is the kind of challenge I am waiting for. 

Interviewer: Damian Nowicki

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

*Noriaki - a Poznań graphic designer and street artist, who prefers to remain anonymous. An organiser and originator of the Szpagart series of street art events. His most recognised work is the Watcher, to be found in London, Prague, Berlin, India, and Barcelona, where he currently lives.

© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2018