Can you tell us a bit about you and your artistic vision?
My name is Armin Eßert, better known as an artist under the pseudonym “Nasca 1” or “Nasca Uno”. I was born in Munich in 1992 and have been living and working in Berlin for three years as a freelance artist and illustrator. I mainly work with painting: on canvas, house facades or digitally on the computer. You can label my work urban art, graffiti or street art, the definition is not that important to me.
I have been painting for as long as I can remember. I painted my first cartoon characters on paper at the age of three or scribbled them on the apartment walls ;). In elementary school I discovered graffiti. I loved to take the train through the Munich suburbs and watch the graffiti paintings along the suburban train tracks.
Since Munich still had many spare surfaces at this time where you could spray legally and I was fortunate enough to live in the immediate vicinity of two very popular graffiti spots, I started early and worked intensely on my “pieces” and my style. The years passed, the style changed with time and nowadays I use spray paint in combination with acrylic, facade paint, brushes and paint rollers. My passion is figurative painting, no matter if human, animal or plant. I combine abstract elements with wild structures and place them in these finely detailed figures or portraits.
Your pseudonym already points out that you have Peruvian origins – how do your origins influence your work?
Exactly, the name “Nasca”, which I have used as an artist pseudonym since 2009, comes from the ancient “Nazca” culture from southern Peru. I have always been a big fan of ancient cultures and stories, whether they came from ancient Greeks, Egyptians or pre-Columbian cultures. One day I read an article in a renowned science magazine titled “Nazca Lines – Graffiti for the Gods?” – the name was safe.
Due to my Peruvian roots and thus strong links to Peru and South America, I usually visualize themes that arise from the local cultures, the flora and fauna. I am particularly fascinated by indigenous cultures, such as today’s Shipibo Indians or the then Moche culture from northern Peru. It is my special concern to pay particular attention to the groups of the population, to whom little attention has been paid during the history of our modern world, through my art. As a motive, I often use the portraits of older representatives of these sculptures. Her indigenous features and deep wrinkles on her face speak volumes and radiate wisdom that has been passed down from generation to generation.
My color palette is mainly oriented to the colors occurring in nature, such as many earthy, red and “dirty” yellows and greens. The painting process is intuitive, I rarely make sketches or even plan a picture from start to finish. Often, as a source of inspiration, I use my own photographs, which I take on my travels. However, I do not limit myself exclusively to South America. I have just come back from a long journey from Indonesia with both the SD card and my head full of inspiration.
You also work with commissions by organisations or private collectors – which works influenced you and challenged you the most so far?
Well, especially as a freelance artist, the money and the associated customers is a special topic. At the beginning of my artistic career I almost exclusively made orders according to customer requirements. Meanwhile, I’m fortunately relatively free regarding the choice of subject. I’ve always seen every commission work as a teaching project; I hone my eye for the picture and my techniques. You never stop learning. Of course, every work shapes me. Of course it is especially when customers purchase my personal work and even collect it. Of course, this is both a confirmation of yourself and of your own creative path and I am very grateful for that.
However, my heart, or rather painting in general, is to touch and move people in general. As an urban artist/ street artist – of course – the street is my favorite medium. On my travels, especially in Asia and Latin America, I have left numerous pictures in the streets of many places. Most of the locals could not understand why someone comes from a foreign country, invested time and money for a painting in the streets and will probably never see it again afterwards. But this feeling of leaving something to one’s self, of giving something to one’s self, and then accepting it with joy and gratitude, is incomparable.
Last year I founded together with friends the collective “Murales Berlin” and carried out several projects.One included a protest against Trump and the construction of the Wall between the United States and Mexico. Here we invited, in cooperation with a Hamburg Partner Collective, two renowned Mexican street art artists, two other German artists and myself, during the G20 summit to Hamburg. We organized and transported two original segments of the Berlin Wall from Berlin to Hamburg and had them painted on site in Hamburg by the artists with their message. A sign of peaceful protest.
An insight into the project can be found here:
Which murals would you like to create in the future?
A particular challenge for any street artist/graffiti artist is of course the “muralism”, the design of house facades, which open up over several floors. Due to their size, the art is incorporated here strikingly into the cityscape and the artist leaves a very special fingerprint. Last year we were able to create two big murals in Berlin.
In the future, I would like to focus more on that, not only in Germany but preferably worldwide. I am currently working on some projects in Asia, Africa and South America, maybe that will happen sooner than expected 🙂
Can you tell us a bit more about your work “El Cumpa”?
In general, I try to give the viewer little information about my works to leave him so much leeway for interpretation. In these works, I reinterpret elements of ancient pre-Columbian cultures in my own way and put them together in a new context.
In “El Cumpa”, which means “the godfather”, I oriented myself on the vase art of the Mochica culture from the region around Trujillo in Peru. The “Uakari”, a monkey species from the Amazon, is one of my favorite motifs. They are characterized by their beautiful red facial coloring. Unfortunately, this species of monkeys is already endangered by poaching and it was important for me to emphasize disadvantaged species, almost to illuminate the beauty in secret. The work “Raices” shows an interpretation of the “Pacha Mama”, the mother earth, with all its associated elements.
As already mentioned, I like to place finely crafted figures or human elements in the wild structures in order to create a contrast and calm points in the picture.
When working on a new project, what are the first steps you take?
Well that is always very different. When I work alone, the work begins very individually because it depends very much on whether I paint an exterior or a canvas in the studio. The time available to me here is an important factor. If I have a lot of time, say a few days or even weeks for a work, I adjust the work equipment for it. Then I work with a larger color palette and combine the spray can with facade paint, paint rollers and paint brushes. Also, then the motive itself is very elaborate, since I try to challenge myself with each new work.
If there is only little time for a picture, such as on a sunny afternoon with sprayer colleagues at a “hall”, that is, on a wall surface that is legal for graffiti, then I mostly work only with the spray paint. If you work together with other people, such as on a large overall concept, of course, an agreement in advance is necessary. You either agree on the same colors, divide work steps or just let it flow.
It is personally important to always preserve the spontaneity in my work process. No matter how much you plan your image in advance, it rarely happens while painting that it does not come any different. New ideas come up or the structure of the wall does not behave as one wants. That’s what graffiti taught me – if at short notice the format of the surface changes, or you spontaneously collaborate with someone, flexibility is simply an indispensable skill. Anyone who stiffens here can lose the drive and ends up getting in the way. Overcoming one’s own boundaries is a daily part of my job. “Be water, my friend”;)
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment my collective and I are working together with partners on the Berlin art project “Wandelism”. This is an art project in which more than 60 national and international contemporary, street art, graffiti, installation, and performance artists, as well as several other disciplines, have joined together to reshape a demolished building for a month.
Nasca on Singulart