Adriana Paramo

Painting Walls with JADE

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Commission for Altavista Building in San Isidro district, Lima, Perú

Jonatan Rivera dropped out of University in his native Perú to follow his passion: painting. Now he is an established 26 year old self-taught street artist painting walls in South America, Europe and the States.

When he was a child he didn’t like painting, ‘My mum used to do my drawings for my school work’, he says. It wasn’t until he was 11 and discovered Japanese Anime that he became interested. ‘I started drawing my favourite super heroes, from there I made my own paintings and then I discovered graffiti and the street’.

He started by painting letters and that’s how he came up with his nickname: JADE. However, all his cousins were engineers and he felt he had to follow in their footsteps. Although he started his studies he got very bad marks and swapped to Arts.

Jonatan enrolled in the National Pre School of Arts in Perú just to find they taught rigid methods that didn’t allow any freedom. ‘In a drawing class I was shading with my fingers and the teacher told me I wasn’t allowed to do so. I was 17 and I decided to drop out because teachers would have taken me away from following my path.’

He finds the street to be his favourite medium and uses different techniques like oil, watercolours or acrylics and to date had painted over 500 walls. ‘I can’t decide which one is my favourite but I usually choose the latest I’m working on.’ The time he spends working on a wall depends on the dimensions of it, from one day to a week. With his works he does not want to express something precise but he prefers to leave it to the viewer. ‘I have an idea, I paint it and I give it a title but I never give it a meaning. I like that every person gives it his own story.’

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Nowadays, Jade does his own projects and only accepts works that enable him to be creative. However, it was hard to establish himself as an artist. ‘I had to work as an illustrator doing jobs that had nothing to do with my art.’ As time passed by, people started calling him and asking him for his work. ‘Now they just tell me: paint whatever you like.’ Although he feels painting became a necessity for him, he knows it is unstable and ‘you can never know what to expect from it.’

To be get inspired Jade pays attention to everyday life. ‘I like to see other artists’ works but I believe there is a lot to take in from the street, a book, a film, from our home…’ He believes that anyone can paint but to become an artist it is necessary to be dedicated and brave. ‘You have to accept that there will be times when you will be hungry and you can never expect anything from painting. Many people are afraid of these facts and they end up choosing the wrong career in their lives.’

At the moment Jade is working in his studio and his future plan is simply ‘to keep on painting.’

To follow Jade’s work visit his blog.

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