Galeria Monarca – 156 E SUR Lazaro Cardenas, Bucerias
While watching a young man over several weeks as he applied colour to a large wall in town, we were in awe as his creation came to life. We would stop by every few days and say hello, and marvel at his work. As it appeared, he was nearly finished, we asked if we could learn a bit about him. He graciously agreed, and we got to know him better over a cold cerveza.
Adrian Takano is originally from Mexico City and currently resides in Puerto Vallarta. After finishing high school, he realized it was time to “leave the city and join the living.”
When he first arrived in Vallarta he painted inside people’s homes. Lucky for all of us, Adrian decided he’d rather focus on public art. “I put all my efforts there and that’s what I’ve been doing since.” When you see his art, you will think he was trained by the very best, and perhaps he was…Adrian is self-taught. He has no formal schooling in art but has become a muralist extraordinaire.
“All of that builds you.”
“People are really shocked when they learn I am self-taught when some of the best artists are self taught. There are no rules, that’s the only rule. It’s a great way to find your path. Puerto Vallarta gave me some harsh years. I was hungry. Nobody knows you. You don’t have a dime. All of that builds you.”
Adrian also paints on canvas and used to teach classes in his studio. Galeria Monarca owner, Sandra Nitchie, describes how she met Adrian, “When I first moved to the area eight years ago, I was looking to revisit my painting aspirations and found Adrian’s class in Puerto Vallarta.” Sandra believes in supporting local talent and knew who to call upon when she decided on a mural for her own gallery. Adrian has stopped teaching since he began doing public murals.
Adrian Takano, Muralist
Adrian said, “When I think of all those years, it was kind of crazy. There were many ups and downs, I was just going with the flow. It wasn’t even my intention to start teaching, I just ended up somehow in a gallery and people started asking me questions. The next thing I know they’re calling me their teacher I’m charging for it. I used to teach for six or seven years in two or three different galleries. Then I moved it to my studio. I moved twenty times in two years. You know how it is here…you find a place then find a better one, so the studio was traveling. Teaching is very valuable. I think teachers are very important so at some point I’d like to put together some kind of workshop. I want to teach the class that I would like to have been taught ten years ago.”
Our “interview” went something like this:
How did you learn to speak English?
AT: I learned how to speak English by listening to Led Zeppelin and watching movies.
How many works do you have in Vallarta?
AT: I don’t know maybe 15, 20. I honestly have lost track, but a few.
How do you decide what to paint?
AT: I usually like to paint my own ideas, come up with my own concepts. This time it was very lucky for both of us because she (Sandra Nitchie) wanted something very similar to what I had in mind. I just kind of fused ideas together and came up with this. The way I put it together is by taking a bunch of pictures that are close to my idea then edit them together to create a digital sketch. (The mural) looks very different to the sketch. I mean, it’s the same feel, it’s the same essence, but as you create, it morphs. The way I’m progressing on the wall? I make the decisions here on the wall, not in the sketch or in my phone.
How do you know how big to make images, like the hands and nose? When you’re up so close you don’t have the same perception as somebody standing across the street.
AT: That took a lot of practice. In this case, I have as reference the windows and a few other things like those boxes (electrical). They’re kind of imaginary lines for me to know where things more or less go. It’s a lot of just stepping back, looking at it, and going at it again.
When did you know that you were interested in art?
AT: I guess as soon as I was able to hold a pencil I was doing something related to it, you, know? I didn’t always know that this is what I was going to be doing, but I just decided pretty early on when I was about 14, 15 that I wanted to do this. In PV is where I found the opportunity to really do it in my own terms, which is what I wanted.
Do you have a favourite creation?
AT: No. That would be like asking which is your favourite kid. As far as the image itself, I don’t really have a favorite. I like them different, for different reasons in different ways. I (painted) a mermaid on a big building. That one was super hard to paint. It was six stories of scaffolding. It was incredibly exhausting. It’s very rewarding when you see it finished.
What does art do for you?
AT: Well, it’s my lifestyle. It’s a connection with people and it’s a way to get to know myself. It’s like a journey into your own psyche, your own mind, I guess is the best way to say it. It is a strong connection, a way to connect universally with people, and it’s a strong way to send a message. Art is a thing that can heal, if you put the right image in the right place you can totally transform it. It’s powerful. Argentina and Colombia had neighborhoods that were in deep trouble. Murders, drugs. They just brought them back to life with art. In every house, on every building. That’s a great feeling. That’s one of the things that drive me. And the ancestral culture of Mexico is so rich and so poorly taught to us in schools as we grow up, so this is my way to contribute a little, so people ask themselves questions and are aware of the dignity of the indigenous people. We need to bring attention to that. The ancestral culture is so beautiful and colorful and is a steady source of inspiration.
“My goal has always been to make art available for everybody. That’s the whole point of doing street art. Take it out of the galleries and bring it big, for the people.“
We found Adrian fascinating, and we have even more of his story to tell as he works on a project painting murals in schools and encouraging students in the field of art. We’ll save it for another day.
In the meantime, look him up on Facebook and Instagram. He is highly accomplished, leaving murals behind in eight countries, including this one below.