In the center of Spain a small town rests between the Paleozoic mountain ranges, named Almagro. In the late 15th century, a young man by the name of Diego de Almagro was searching for himself in a world that had left him without parents, family or the general security every young child should enjoy. His hometown was the first Templar settlement, a bustling place for religion and ideas, but he could not find himself in it.
So, at the age of 29 he embarked, as so many young adventurers did in the early 16th century, to an unknown land. There he found excitement, battles and a way to build his fortune. He was one of the first Westerners to marry a native Indian and was soon promoted to captain. With his partner Francisco Pizarro he conquered the Incan empire, but a dispute between them forced Almagro to leave Peru in search for other riches. He became the conqueror of Chile, but was disappointed by the lack of treasure and resented his former partner for stealing what he believed was rightfully his. He returned home to find Pizarro battling the Incas once more, and took this as an opportunity to defeat the foe that had once been his friend. Instead he found himself run down by the enemy and eventually killed.
Today a faceless mural of the conqueror rests on a wall on a 18th century building in the middle of town. The conqueror is an inspiration for many, but particularly for the man behind the mural: Spanish artist Skount.
“This historic character is a clear example of how the human being in search of better life, new experiences and knowledge, can become corrupted by power and greed, causing death and even attract own death,” Skount told bazaar.
Though he was born in Jerez de la Frontera, in the south of Spain, Skount grew up in the conqueror’s historic birth town in the center of the country. Today, Almagro is well known for its prominence in classic Spanish theatre, perfect for an artist who regards life as a wonderful play, in which everyone has a role. Using paint, paper, music and performance, video art, sculpture and installations he has made his mark as an explorer of people, and particularly the masks they wear.
“The mask disguises the identity of its owner, and symbolizes the need to hide, or represses a person’s desires, fears or concerns,” he told bazaar. “Everybody carries masks. However there are also moments in which we can reveal our true nature and take them off.”
Vivid in color, strong in its strokes and inspiring in its message, Skount’s artwork has been spotted in Spain, Europe, Israel, China, Japan, Australia, Mexico and the United States. He first started painting at the tender age of 7, alongside his artist mother, and created his first collaborative projects with her. In 1999, greatly influenced by the Hip-Hop culture, he ventured into graffiti.
His murals are a reflection of his inner thought process and the environment around him. He will find a hidden area where he spends days scoping the place in which his chosen canvas lives. He talks to people, researches its history and finds out as much as he can about it. Finally, when a sketch is created, he begins to paint.
“For me it is really important where I paint and how it looks on the wall because in the end the wall will be part of the artwork,” he said. “I think of a concept before I paint it on the wall, because I like that behind each painting, there is a story.”
On March 6, Skount will be displaying his latest work “Projections: Searching” at the Visual Therapy live art festival in Marina Crescent. The show is based on the theory of psychological projection. People defend themselves against their own unpleasant impulses by denying they exist within themselves or project positive attributes to those they want to love.
“For this time I am focusing my work on seeking the inner self of our existence; our roots, identity, and after-life,” he said. “Removing our metaphorical mask by leaving behind hidden feelings, thoughts or desires that are never quite accepted as our own because they generate distress or anxiety, they rest hidden under our mask.“
This is the first time the world-renowned artist will be coming to Kuwait, but he’s excited about the prospect of displaying his work in a new country, and possibly pushing some of us to reveal our true selves.
Details for the 2015 Visual Therapy event can be found at: VISUAL THERAPY BRINGS BACK ALWAN