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La Pandilla: Alexis Diaz New Mural & Interview ~ Venice

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Puerto Rican artist Alexis Diaz better known as one half of La Pandilla painted a new mural on Abbot Kinney Blvd. LA TACO's own Erwin Recinos was able to catch photos of Alexis putting the final touches on the mural and get an interview with him. Thanks to Pilar Castillo of SPARC for making this interview possible.

Is this your first visit to LA? If so what have you enjoyed about this city?
No, it’s not my first visit. I use to have a clothing line called TASTE and since the headquarters were in LA, visited various times. I also visited in 2010 after Coachella music festival, but I never really got to know the city because I never spent more than three days during my visits. I really love it, the energy and the peoples’ vibes are really positive, affectionate and helpful without even knowing you. They appreciate the Arts and its cultural importance. The beaches and mountains remind me of where I’m from Puerto Rico and it makes me feel at home. There is cultural diversity, all with a similar focus although with different ideas, and the pace of life is a bit more relaxed. I love it!

What is the title of your latest mural and what was the concept behind it.
Well with this mural I really didn’t have to think about it, I painted at a place called Roosterfish so the elements for the mural were obvious, a rooster and a fish. Roosterfish is a gay bar that has been in the Venice community for 33 years. What I did was integrate some of the elements I utilize in my murals like the human hand, in this case a male hand since the rooster is the male version of the chicken. I added the wing to represent that it defends itself with greater force, to assume control of what it feels or thinks necessary for survival. I also hung a key around its neck to represent the right to freedom without anyone granting it, and the right to choose freely without depending on a system or any specific person! I am not gay but I believe that everyone should have the same freedom and equal rights!

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Who helped you to be able to come out to LA and paint this mural.
Well, when I was invited to participate in the Back Alley Group Exhibition (LATACO coverage), I thought it would be a good opportunity to paint a mural in LA, since I had never had the opportunity. It has always been one of the cities I’ve wanted to paint in. I connected with Do Art Foundation, and together with SPARC Murals found a wall in an excellent location, I didn’t think twice about booking a flight and I was there! They took care of my accommodations and always made sure I was doing well. Thanks to them I accomplished that piece!

Nature seems to be a recurring theme in your murals, why is that?
I’m always attracted to nature, I’m a fan of organic forms and the wonder that nature creates, I believe nothing exists that can replace it, in it is the story of life and its history! Reflected in a fleeting act! I always try to work in all of these elements that life gives us daily, that sometimes machines try to replace, in the end you can’t feel those, nor does it look the same. Creation is the most strong and powerful idea in my perception or point of view.

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If you were to come back as an animal which would it be and why?
I think it would be a bird, many times I dream of being able to fly anywhere I want to, whenever I want to. The idea of absolute freedom and being able to see lands, and see places from the sky, unattainable places, it would be magical!

While your were painting in Venice, how was the Venice crowds reception of your mural during your time in LA?
It was excellent, the people in Venice were especially friendly, helpful, committed and grateful. A lot of talent, not only in visual arts, but also musicians, actors, writers etc. You breathe in an inspiring vibe, the environment totally invites creativity!

Will you be back in LA to bless this city with another mural?
I’ll definitely return to LA, by the end of this year I hope to come back and paint two more walls. I liked it so much, don’t be surprised if I move to LA in 2014! Hahaha.

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