Jesús Trinidad Villalpando (best known as Feng) is a visual artist whose limits are only set by human ambition. His work comes to life in the shape of ambitious and deformed characters who look at us irreverently from their explosive and colorful universes.
For me, art is a necessity and I firmly believe it will save humanity. We, humans, are a plague and art is the cure that will save us from ourselves.
Feng, how are you? Tell us something about yourself... Where are you from, what’s your background?
I was born in 1982 in Guadalajara. I grew up in a very close-knit family but sadly my parents died young. I've been working as a painter for 10 years now and I’m very happy to be able to make a living out of my art.
What does art mean to you?
I think art is one of the most important things human beings managed to create. Art is my life, it is my way of understanding the whole world and it is my universe. Since I was a child I have been listening to music, going to art galleries, watching movies. For me, art is a necessity and I firmly believe it will save humanity. We, humans, are a plague and art is the cure that will save us from ourselves.
Where did you start painting? And what was your style?
When I was in high school, I used to wander around a lot, scribbling on the back of my notebooks. I also used to be a musician, but then I became interested in painting because I'm more into individual activities rather than collective ones like music. When you paint, the only tools you need are brushes and colours, and your creativity starts flowing. Painting came into my life in such a natural way that it is now a vital part of me. It makes me feel free: it is my shelter, the safe place where I am free to find my own space and dialogue with the beings I will paint on canvas. Sometimes I feel happy and unsatisfied at once, but I think satisfaction is very hard to achieve in such historical times.
These beings you speak of, who are they? Where do they come from?
They come from the stream of consciousness that flows in my mind when I plunge myself and my thoughts into the world around me. But since we live surrounded by chaos, the beings I come in contact with are entities of our everyday life, just deformed.
What's your work inspired by?
I draw inspiration from music, especially Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Red Hot Chilli Peppers sound... As for painting, I'm very fascinated by Picasso. I'm inspired by people who believed in me, who enjoy seeing my paintings on walls and value colors on canvas.
What do you think about today's art market?
It is complex to give a price to something as abstract as a piece of art. We live in a globalized and hyperconnected world, where you can upload a photo in Mexico and get a like in Spain… it's crazy. In Guadalajara, I was part of an extremely important art buyers and sellers' generation: people my age interested in hanging these pieces of art in their homes and giving them an economic value. This makes me very happy because I live from painting and this market trend makes me live better and better, allows me to buy the best material for my art and travel further and further. New generations don't simply decorate their space: they genuinely enjoy buying art and looking for a message in what they put on their walls.
"They are the visual representation of ourselves as human beings in an apocalyptic world in the midst of destruction. We are a disgusting and greedy species."
Is there any message in your work?
It's hard to tell, because colors are my work’s most expressive feature, but certainly there is some information behind each piece. My graffiti, as well as the characters I paint, are angry and selfish. They are the visual representation of ourselves as human beings in an apocalyptic world in the midst of destruction. We are a disgusting and greedy species.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I hope I'll be living in Berlin, listening to techno music in my apartment.
What would you do without the existence of art as a defined or established element?
I don't know what I would do. Without music and painting I would be very unhappy. The harmony of art means everything to me.
What techniques do you use? And what materials do you feel most comfortable working with?
I always use a first layer of water, as well as water-based varnishes. Over the base, all of my good pieces have a combination of acrylic, spray paint, oil and charcoal. I also do a lot of screen printing. I love sculpture and I'm trying to get to know that world, but for spray and oil painting I have a stronger and more structured technique right now.
Where does your style come from?
It's strange, because at some point I couldn't just draw like everyone else. I would draw my characters, but at the beginning I would paint the way I could rather than the way I wanted to. Luckily, I've improved over the years: I keep learning from everything I see and from every artist I connect with. I learn a lot from books too. I like keeping up with the ideas new generations come up with. I really admire young people who stand out in the art world.
How did you feel the first time you sold a piece of your work?
I don't remember the first time I sold a piece of my work, but I do remember the first time I won a painting award. The director of the University of Guadalajara awarded me a check and I believe that the moment I won a painting biennial changed my whole life. I thought: "This is what I must do in my life, this is what I like and I enjoy being looked at like this. I like people to value me and my work.
How was it that you came to be known in the art environment? Who discovered you?