Lucas Aoki, originally from Argentina and now living in Austin, TX is a long time member of the SprATX collective. He was recently invited to the Second Edition of the IPAF Festival in Cape Town, South Africa and SprATX jumped on the opportunity to help him make it possible. Lucas has been both a friend and working artist within the SprATX family since we first started printing artist t-shirts in 2013. When he asked for our support in getting him to South Africa, we were happy to sponsor his involvement with IPAF.
IPAF Festival SA is a unique festival that aims to spread the message of the current state of how humans have been mishandling nature. Following this idea, this year’s theme was “NATURE DOESN’T NEED US, WE NEED NATURE“.
Nature has a way of “getting rid” of those who cannot adapt to its way of being and surely the human race is at stake. It is time to mold our behavior accordingly.
IPAF believes that a change in the behavior fundamentally starts in the mind. A small incremental change in the way we think, spurs on an evidential change in our behavior.
ABOUT LUCAS AOKI:
Lucas Aoki is a Córdoba, Argentina native, but currently lives in Austin, TX. He was inspired to pursue art a few years after his move to Austin in 2007, and his work has been evolving ever since. Aoki states, “I have learned a lot about myself and the magical world of art. I have found that the experience of painting murals and collaborating with other artists have added new elements to my life. There are new challenges and things to learn constantly. Making art can be intimidating at times, but so fun and rewarding.”
Some of the key elements for surviving and thriving are his family and friends, traveling, non-processed foods, a peaceful morning, and out-of-the-city fresh air. Having always had an affinity for nature has served as his greatest artistic inspiration. His work has been characterized as surrealist and fantastical, balancing vivid colors with sometimes dark and mysterious elements for an overall feel of surprise and wonder.
Photo by @philliplehans
ABOUT CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA:
The IPAF festival was held in Cape Town, South Africa, one of Africa’s most populated cities with continual growth. It is said to be one of the most multicultural cities in the world and is a popular tourist destination. The coastal city is currently on the verge of what’s known as, “Day Zero‘, the disastrous day that the people of the city will be forced to shut off water taps because of how dangerously low the water supply has become. This day has been on the horizon for some time and is said to be caused by the ever-growing population growth, change in climate, and massive amounts of development alongside one of the longest droughts in the cities history. The local government has attempted to encourage responsible water usage and consumption, but a large percentage of the population and visitors haven’t yet taken the warning signs seriously.
Running out of water is beyond scary to think about, which makes the IPAF South Africa even more important. The festival brings to light our relationship with Nature and raises awareness on the the local issues of Cape Town, South Africa in regards to their shortage of water. These words, themselves, serve as a reminder to be grateful and conscious of what we take from our planet and what we give back. Read below for more insight from Aoki’s first-hand experience in Cape Town and it’s local families and community members.
INTERVIEW WITH LUCAS AOKI:
SprATX: What is the meaning behind the mural you painted? Give us the inside scoop!
Aoki: This is the image that came to me when I thought of nature. Somehow I wanted to portray this magical intelligence of nature that is always present but few of us can see it because we built this division, we created our own living bubbles. In this image, magical beings are emerging from the core of the Earth to bring a message to us humans: the message of light, hope, awareness, and maybe a higher lever of consciousness.
SprATX: Tell us about your experience with the Cape Town culture and how the community reacted to your mural and the festival as whole?
Aoki: First, the city is so interesting because of its geography, located in between mountains and by the ocean. The most visible peaks from downtown, Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, and Signal Mountain give this place such a majestic and mysterious sensation. Besides its natural beauty and the beautiful people, Cape Town is a place with a lot of inequality, lots of poverty, and problems caused partly by Apartheid times and followed by corrupt governments. Division is clear. However, the people I met were the ones that inspire and that are giving their best for a better society. I see so much talented hard workers with big hearts in this city.
I didn’t know, before going, that Cape Town had such a big mix of cultures. Salt River is originally an area were Cape Malay people lived, mainly a Muslim community that is now experiencing some gentrification – although some don’t agree with this and prefer to say it’s just becoming more diverse.
In regards to the reactions of my mural, I received tons of great compliments about the mural throughout the process; they loved the colors, the layout, and the detail, but there were also a few that didn’t really get the point. The community has been very open to this new change and have been supportive with a few exceptions.
SprATX: Talk a little about the water shortage issues in Cape Town.
Aoki: It’s scary and it’s real. To me, it’s a reminder of how fragile this issue is. Not just in Cape Town. It’s happening in Australia. On the practical level, we need to take care of the water, value it, respect it, and don’t take it for granted. But also this should motivate us to rethink global warming and the necessary changes to make on a global scale.
In Cape Town, there is a huge banner when you go through immigration that says, “Act like a local, conserve water”. During the festival, even though they didn’t give us guidelines on water use, I felt most artists were really aware and everybody knew you were supposed to take minute showers and be extra careful with general use. I did my best, I couldn’t help but thinking I was also being part of the problem like any other tourist. The fact that the day when they are shutting off taps is coming soon is so surreal and frightening.