On the occasion of the 5th international Mixed Media competition held by Pébéo, we meet Yandy Graffer, the winner of 1st prize;
Can you introduce yourself and tell us your artistic practice?
I am Abraham Portocarrero, alias Yandy Graffer, born in 1992 and I come from Lima, Peru. I started out with graffiti in 2006. At the time I mainly used aerosol, before starting to make large-scale wall paintings. Following that, my training at the School of Fine Arts in Lima enabled me to also take an interest in wood engraving. Since then, wood has remained one of the materials that I am particularly fond of. My work in the studio is, in fact, a synthesis of everything I have learned and discovered during my years of artistic practice. I tend increasingly more towards assembling materials. Furthermore, it is this work on mixed techniques that can be found in the work El futuro del fin de los tiempos. My style is expressive and colourful. There is a supremacy in the line and contours. For some time now, I have been concentrating on a new universe oriented towards my own personal reflection on the meaning of life.
Your universe, by the characters represented and the colours you use, is a true encouragement to travel. Where do you get your inspiration as an artist?
My main inspiration is and will always be Peru, as well as all the life I had there. My childhood and my memories are recurring elements in my works. For example, there are many references to the maritime world, because I come from a family of fishermen. Furthermore, I think that I was hugely affected by the cosmopolitan aspect of Lima, which I also find deep down inside me. I am a multicultural person through my path in life. I have a Peruvian culture from my youth, but I have also integrated myself into all the traditions comprising French culture. This is because I have been living in Lyon for four years now. I am also greatly inspired by urban music, and especially its evolution, from the outset to the present day: reggae, reggaeton, hip-hop, anything related to African-inspired music. Lastly, and I think that this is something that can be seen a great deal in my recent works, I draw major inspiration from Japanese art, culture, and anime. Through my studies in engraving at the School of Fine Arts, I began studying the history of Japanese printmaking and was immediately fascinated. Lastly, whether it is through my childhood and animated films, through my studies, or my future plans, everything ends up being connected to Japan, almost unwittingly.
What do you seek to express through your work?
Primarily, I want to make my identity known as a person. Whether that be my childhood, my former life in Lima, my passions, etc., all my works are a key to understanding my personality. They are, each in their own way, a real piece of Yandy's life. On that basis, I then created a character who represents me, he is my alter ego. He is what I am, what I aspire to be, and what I love. This character is the artisan fisherman. It means a lot for me because it is a reference to my family, my grandfather who was a fisherman in Peru. This fisherman, beyond being a representation of myself, is an allegory of my past, present and future.
What motivated you to apply for this award?
Firstly, I use many Pébéo products. Plus, I was allured by the fact that this competition was open to artists using mixed techniques, like me.
Can you tell us about the piece El futuro del fin de los tiempos, the work presented for the award?
For me, this work is the very representation of the evolution of life. The female character represents my daughter, Luz. This is already representative of a highly important stage in my life, and in my evolution as a person, but particularly as a father. She has one foot on a clock: she is the master of time. From the clock a ray of light is released, propelling life in all its forms (the small, spherical shapes with eyes and mouths) which will also evolve over time. Through this character, I sought to highlight the fact that time is one of life's central elements. If time stands still, then there can be no future, and thus no evolution. The fact that she is the master of time means that she is the future. Beside her stands the character of the fisherman, who represents me, as well as my personal identity with my way of dressing: my futuristic sunglasses and anything that can express my own identity. He is my alter ego. Along with Luz, these characters symbolise hope and life. However, the girl breaks the clock by standing on it, making time stand still. This breaking of time enables a superior entity to emerge: in the shape of the sun. The three characters that follow are references to my memories. They belong to the realms of dream and the ideal. They are the fruit of my imagination. Lastly, this work is the meeting of two universes; the first is based on my life and has its basis in reality and the second is inspired by my dreams and memories. The stopping of time plunges all these characters into the same dimension, in which they can finally meet and exchange.
You have already taken part in a huge number of events in Peru, as well as in Lyon more recently. What are your desires for the future?
I would like to immerse myself further in the world of art, and be able to really evolve. I would also like to get even closer to the world of Japanese printmaking, and — why not — take a trip to this country and collaborate with some artists. Lastly, I would love to be able to put on more exhibitions in Paris and in all the world's capitals. Coming from multiculturalism, I truly aspire to discover increasingly more cultures, customs and artistic techniques.
Further information can be found on Yandy Graffer's Instagram account.