An email arrived with a map and a message. HNRX would be painting a mural on a Munich wall and I was invited to visit.
Heading over to the wall, I watched the artist spraying paint from on top of a narrow metal ladder. Catching his attention, the artist descended from his perch and we stood staring at his work in progress and talking about his life and art.
I came to Munich because of Loomit. My first time painting here was in 2013 and over the last few years, I’ve collaborated with several Munich based street artists. I like the city because it is close to my home in Austria and it is a unique place to work.
How do you find the walls you’re going to paint in Munich?
Loomit invited me to paint pieces at the Kult Fabrik which is like a museum of street art. Some of the pieces are really old and Loomit will let you know what spaces are available for painting.
In other areas of town, if I’m painting a larger piece, I will let the city know that I plan to paint the wall and then I send in a proposed art piece. My original drawing for this wall was vetoed so I sent in another drawing and that one was approved. I never run out of ideas so this kind of thing is never a problem. I feel that to be painting street art, you need to really want to do it and never give up.
For smaller pieces, I look around for a place where I can put a piece and where it may stay awhile.
Do you find it easy to paint street art in Munich?
There are not that many areas around town where you can paint so I just look around and decide where I think a piece would work. For the current piece, I called the police ahead of time to let them know I was starting my piece and that I had permission from the city but the police still came out to the wall.
At the beginning of the art piece, people are not so friendly. They don’t know what is happening and shout that I’m making graffiti. The art piece at the beginning is a sketch and doesn’t look like the finished piece but my work is not graffiti, it is art and I spend quite a bit of time and money creating it.
Do you get paid for painting your large murals?
If the work is a commission, I get paid but for my own art pieces, I’m funding the materials myself which is expensive for large walls. I’m working full time as an artist so I’m actively selling smaller works to raise funds for the large public artworks. The current piece is self funded. The city gave me permission to paint the wall but no funds to cover the costs.
Why do you make such large art pieces?
I enjoy making large artworks and working on walls. I love the texture and the flaws in the wall. I prefer to have a painting surface that isn’t perfect. I tried painting on canvas and found it unappealing. I love the challenge of spraying on outdoor walls.
I also love connecting with the public. I would never want to be isolated in a studio full time. My urban murals ask people to pay attention and offers them some love and freedom. Although I keep up with current events and I’m a vegan, I don’t use my art to make political statements, people get enough of that from the media, they don’t need that from my art.
How long does it take you to paint the walls?
For the current wall, it took four hours just to roll the base coat on the wall. I’ve scheduled 2 -12 hour days for painting the wall near Candidplatz.
Do you have specific themes?
I make art everyday and I have lots of ideas. Right now I’m focusing on little things that people take for granted. What they may overlook in their daily lives. I’m also delving into surrealism.
Are you a trained artist?
My mother is an artist but I learned street art from creating street art and by doing it. I attended architectural school but I don’t see that as part of my art training. I found that I needed to let go of the straight precision of architecture to make my street art. I love making art that isn’t perfect and where you don’t have to follow specific rules – you don’t have that freedom as an architect but in my art, I’m free to make things which are impossible in reality.
How do you feel when someone paints over your art pieces?
I’m making street art. Usually it is up for a few days before it gets damaged or covered. One time, I created a piece in London with a friend and the piece was tagged the day after we finished. My friend was really upset because we spent two days painting the piece but I know that is just part of creating art on the street.
The street is open to all artists. You can’t be angry with other artists for doing to your piece what you have done to the piece that was there before yours. That is street art. Covering is part of the process.
Do you make small artwork that people can buy?
I support myself through commissions and selling artwork painted on cardboard. I love using cardboard because it is easy to store and has an uneven texture similar to the walls . I have a gallery in Innsbruck, Vienna and here in Munich. I’m also have an exhibition in July at the Die Faerberei starting on July 15th.
Note: The street art festival is happening soon. If you want to see HNRX’s work down on Tumblingerstrasse, I suggest you head over soon to check them out. Most of them have already been damaged but you can still see the pieces through the chrome. Here are a few more pieces of this art piece at Candidplatz