The clue is in the name. Impresiones Gigantes, a collective made up of artists from Granada and beyond, don’t go about their work quietly. Instead, they bring their art to life right in front of you, in the street, with the help of solid teamwork, an abundance of paint and a great big, hissing steamroller. Yes, a steamroller! The point, after all, is to make a big impression.
Ameer Hogg, one of the collective and fellow Granada-based guiri, kindly provided his insight on the live event and the long, intricate process that goes into crafting their work.
Blasting out it’s brilliant imagery, the increasingly popular ‘Impresiones Gigantes’ event in Granada is now in its third, fruitful year.
Impresiones started three years ago, bringing a new perspective on live art events in the streets of Granada by using a steam-roller to churn out print after print for excited onlookers. We each demonstrate our different skills in the street, revealing and teaching our process right in front of our audience, with the goal of inspiring others to grab a roller and some ink.
The artistry doesn’t only take place in the live street event itself, but also in the initial craftwork that each of us are consumed by in the build up to the big day. Each member has their own methods, but with core tools in common; cuts of linoleum and a set of gauges. Many seasoned artists from all over contribute and there is a whole section of international prints, one of which was raffled off to a fortunate winner at this year’s event.
To begin with, each artist works on their own piece individually. These can vary in size; the novice members of the group make small 5×5 inch images, while core members produce the huge 3mx1m prints. Once our images have left the drawing boards and hit the linos, we get together and begin the careful cutting and gauging process. The value of accuracy at this stage really depends on each art piece and imperfections are often welcomed– a notion that many artists of other art forms will second. A great deal of care is needed at this stage too; the slightest slip with the gauge in the wrong direction can take your protagonist’s nose clean off! Some of us take as long as three weeks– going at it four to six hours a day –just cutting, as the many different movements of line and incongruent forms ultimately make for a cornucopia of image styles.
The cuts are then transported down to Paseo de Salon on the day of the event and inked up using a series of hand-held rollers. Like experiencing a gig by your favourite band, the real effect of our work hits home when you see it live.
The intrigued crowd swells, all eyes on the giant steamroller. The keys are turned and a low grumbling sound fills the air. More people are lured in. We grab the ready-inked print and carry it over to the runway where the trusty engine roller will drive right over it. We throw on a couple of layers consisting of paper, plastics and the long white, blank canvas itself, soon to be a work of art. The roller eeks back and forth readying itself for the run, like a raging bull facing the matador. The engine kicks in and the murmuring is drowned out with an almighty roar. With a blast of exhaust fumes and a tip of the driver’s hat, the beast of a machine grinds towards the print. The crowd watch with a curious look of excitement and bewilderment as it slowly flattens the intricate work. At this point, some spectators are assuming this is some conceptual work in which we crush beautiful images with a device that resembles a mini tank. As it rolls back, however, there are sighs of relief and joy as we lift the canvas to reveal a huge, fresh, gorgeous print.
More often than not, the crudest images come out the best. “One of my favourites was actually made by a lad of about six” says Brian Barry, the events founder and organiser, “just two penguins with brilliant little expressions on their faces. We all loved it.”
One after the other, the cuts are inked in a conveyer-belt style production line. The roller soldiers on in the baking sun as new waves of onlookers gasp and smirk with surprise. This goes on from the break of day until dawn, with a complex mosaic print of all the novice prints conjured up for our fans as a grand finale at sunset. After the dust settles, the prints are hung from the nearby palm trees for all to see.
Who would want to miss such a big impression?