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5 Minutes With Street Artist WiseTwo

Kenyan artist WiseTwo has pioneered the street, mural and graffiti art scene in East and Central Africa. His monumental murals have added extra vibrancy to public spaces all over the world, in fact, including in Kenya, Colombia and Australia. We stole five minutes with the in-demand creative to get a glimpse into his processes and perspectives.

What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

I enjoy the meditation in the creative process, most of the time it shuts down all the internal clutter of everyday life, which is an important balance of life. The creative process allows me to be inspired in that very moment and just enjoy the steps of painting. Sometimes it’s like staring at the ocean waves.

Is there a moment or achievement that stands out for you?

There are a lot of achievements that I look back on and smile, and which set a bench mark for me as an artist – for me to do bigger and more projects no matter where in the world. But currently an achievement that I am happy about is when I painted a huge building, an abandoned old cinema building of roughly 900 square meters in Mexicali, Mexico, which is right next to the border to the United States of America. It was another kind of achievement, something that can only be experienced and not described; words can’t do it justice.

WiseTwo's mammoth mural in Mexicali, Mexico.
WiseTwo’s mammoth mural in Mexicali, Mexico.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I really never knew, I would just sketch, copy comic book art as a child and then just started doing other forms of art until I discovered graffiti and that was it. I was just drawn in and from there a lot of things changed, even how I viewed the world and myself in it. Existing in this form on this planet is definitely a privilege and one that can never be taken for granted.

What do you wish people knew about street art?

In today’s world we have direct, first hand access to information right at our fingertips, so being educated about street art is not a tedious task. But before as street artists you had to explain what it is you are doing especially when it’s in the streets of a particular country or city. Most of the time I don’t like to predetermine what people should know about street art, especially my work. People have different views and perspectives, so I like the fact that you can interact with people on this basis. Street art creates a great platform to learn and engage in conversation. You would be surprised how much you can learn from such interactions.

Ibis Azul, Nairobi, Kenya 2017. Photo Credit: WiseTwo
Ibis Azul, Nairobi, Kenya 2017. Photo Credit: WiseTwo

Your work draws inspiration from African cultures, nods to Egyptian hieroglyphs and also relates to your Indian heritage. Can you talk about how you balance these influences and why it’s important for you to do so?

Yes indeed. I love the art and communication of these ancient societies, my work heavily draws influences from masters and ancient scribes of these times. It’s important to me because what they invoked was a powerful feeling, like a feeling of time traveling without actually doing so. It moves the soul to that dimension, it’s a powerful and enriching feeling. With my work I would love to invoke those feelings, perhaps even more potently than in 4000BC. 

The one year duality, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, 2019. Photo: WiseTwo mural street art
The one year duality, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, 2019. Photo: WiseTwo
Triana, Colombia 2016. Photo: WiseTwo
Triana, Colombia 2016. Photo: WiseTwo
Villarica, Cauca, Colombia 2016. Photo: WiseTwo
Villarica, Cauca, Colombia 2016. Photo: WiseTwo

Dive into WiseTwo’s paintings available on Singulart here!

Cover image: WiseTwo at work on a mural – Central de Abastos, Mexico City, Mexico

Photo Credit: Lalo Altamirano 3

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