Uri Martínez (L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, 1983), known as Uriginal, is an urban artist renowned for his colorful style that blends Gaudí’s mosaic heritage with pop and folk art. Uriginal has worked on walls in the outskirts of Barcelona alongside pioneers like Xupet Negre and Pez. His works combine modern and classic elements. Uriginal uses geometry to question the Western canon of portraiture, thus giving new life and perspective to the characters he represents. He has exhibited in numerous galleries, from Denver and Miami to Paris, Amsterdam and Singapore.

Uriginal has been part of the Rebobinart team on several occasions, such as with his creation for the Livensa Living Studios building in Alcobendas or his intervention on the walls of Barcelona’s old prison, La Model.

Since a young age, you have worked in different artistic mediums that have allowed you to participate in exhibitions in Barcelona, Denver, Miami, Madrid, Montreal, and Amsterdam, among others, as well as to intervene in public spaces in different cities. What would you say your work in public spaces has contributed to you?

Well, I don’t know. Actually, I started as a kid painting in public spaces without permission, and what it has contributed to me the most is the dialogue between the public space—which gives me freedom—and the private space—where I maintain a technical struggle with myself to improve at a level where I use a finer brush, everything is more detailed, I pay more attention to the painting, I cover better, I use the necessary layers to make it perfect. When you work illegally in public spaces, you consider all of this a bit less; you let the wall’s imperfections participate, making it look more alive. In contrast, a painting feels more like studio work to me. And the dialogue between the two is what nourishes me.

The evolution of your pictorial style and technique seems to be increasingly unfolding towards experimentation and deconstruction of forms that were initially realistic. What do you think has influenced this evolution? What are your aesthetic references (not just pictorial, but also literary, musical, cinematic) and conceptual references?

Well, to be honest, I have no idea about aesthetic or conceptual references. Sometimes I have obsessive-compulsive disorder inside my head, and suddenly I might get a burst of color inspiration in a super aseptic sneaker store, at a flea market, or I could be visiting a museum or, I don’t know, watching someone commit a crime and find beauty or some aesthetic feeling in that scene that I then want to bring to a painting, to a brilliance or a reflection, for example.

In recent months, you have carried out an artistic intervention at Livensa Living Studios in Alcobendas (Madrid), produced by Rebobinart. This work covered 138 square meters of wall and featured a central female figure evoking the characters of Athena and Minerva. Could you explain your experience, the challenges, or the anecdotes of this work in a large format? Does this format allow room for improvisation?

The experience of painting at Livensa has been like a personal challenge. I really enjoyed getting on a crane of such dimensions (which I hadn’t done in a long time). And regarding improvisation, I haven’t actually improvised much because I like this: sticking to the format I’ve presented. Also, it lightens the weight of the voices inside my head.

The Livensa case is paradigmatic of the presence of female figures in your work – Antonia la Húngara, a girl in the style of Velázquez, Rosalía. Do you think it is important to give visibility to a whole spectrum of femininities in public space? Politically speaking, what do you think this presence can trigger in the public? (Reflection, criticism, contemplation?)

It’s clear that visibility is important, but I’m not sure what effect this presence has on the public. I imagine having role models is crucial. My intention was to show the figure of a young woman embodying the spirit of a struggle, and I’m not sure if this presence can change anything, but I imagine having large-scale female role models in this attitude will always be positive, I don’t know.

In addition to incorporating contemporary figures like Rosalía, Carmen Amaya, Kanye West, and Andy Warhol, your work uncovers elements from the distant past and 20th-century history. What role can urban art play in the recovery of historical or neighborhood memory?

Maybe it’s the other way around: what role can the representation of historical or neighborhood memory play in urban art? I don’t know where I find elements from one century or another… In reality, I don’t see centuries in things; I see them based on whether they move me or not. And this historical and neighborhood memory, I imagine, comes more from education and the state of the person. In the end, art is just painting, and for it to be art, it needs the person who looks at it. The person who looks at it is the important one and is the one who decides. If they don’t have education or sensitivity or are more focused on other things, it won’t matter much. If a person has to earn 800 euros to feed their children but only makes 400, I don’t know how I can help by painting a female figure, for example.

Throughout your career, you have collaborated with artists like Irene López León, Deih and Slomo, Enric Sant, ILL, Cinta Vidal, Kenor, Saturno, Flan, and Pez. How do these collaborations modify your creative process? What do you think these joint works bring to each other?

Collaborative work helps you step out of yourself, to have a shared goal, to experiment a bit against yourself, to get inside another person and let another person get inside you. Well, it’s like making love, but it’s a strange kind of relationship with people.

Finally, we would like to delve into Polygon Minds. This long-term project aimed to experiment with light and color with texture, and the behavior on different surfaces inside and outside the studio. Is this experimentation still ongoing? Do you have any other projects in progress that you would like to tell us about?

This experimentation and all that, I don’t know. Well, I call it life. Every day I wake up, and the impulses and voices in my head say what I have to do.