"People there said they saw my robots moving” AweR

"We would go out at night to paint. It was totally exciting." AweR

The Italian street artist AweR is the master of hypnotic graffiti. With Berlin as home base, the self-taught artist has traveled around Europa for the past year, covering walls with his lysergic drawings. He has just returned from a trip to Poland and Italy, but is glad to be back in Berlin. AweR: “The first time I visited Berlin, I fell in love immediately. Graffiti and street art here are everywhere.”

AweR doesn’t need maps to find his way around the city. He recognizes streets and places by the graffiti that is painted on the walls. AweR lost count of the paintings he made in Berlin so far: “I think I drew about forty paintings, but I’m not sure. It’s possible that by now some of them are covered with works of other artists already. But most of them are in abandoned places; they are difficult to find. Even for me sometimes!”

Thrilling games
AweR, who is twenty-seven now, has been making graffiti paintings since he was thirteen years old. He grew up in a small village in the South of Italy, called ‘Polignano a mare’. “The first graffiti paintings I made were very normal, just letters or words. When you are in that age it’s all about the game, you just want to paint.”

With this ‘game’, AnweR refers to a form of street art where you paint letters or words in the streets. ‘Bombing’ he calls it – which is, in most cases, illegal. “When you paint like this, it starts to become a bit like a competition. People search for the best spots in the city, where everyone sees it. Here in Berlin for example, you see it a lot on the buildings around the U-bahn. People actually fight for the best spots.”

Dancing robots
But, what first started out as a game, turned out to be his true passion. Especially when he moved to Milan to study graphic design: “The first years in Milan I was crazy with the illegal graffiti. We would go out at night to paint. It was totally exciting. We had to watch out for the police and be ready to run any minute.” That’s also why AweR prefers not to be in any pictures. “When you have done some of these illegal paintings in the past, you have to stay a bit underground,” he explains.

Over the years he has developed a very distinctive black and white line-based style. AweR: “I was drawing a lot of graffiti robots in Milan already. At some point we would go paint at rave parties quite a lot. People there said they saw my robots moving,” he laughs, “probably because they were on drugs and alcohol.”

These party-people inspired AweR to make his paintings more lysergic and he decided to study it further. “I slowly started to combine the robots with muscles and work more with fluorescent colours. Then I started to draw big animals, all made out of muscles. And then I came up with this line drawing of the muscles, which was followed by psychedelic muscles.” He laughs, “and then it became totally psychedelic.”

Less illegal, more legal
In the meantime AweR has become a little quieter – he’s not into doing too much illegal stuff anymore. Here in Berlin he prefers working together with other graffiti painters and he works on commission once in a while. “I sell some of my work at expositions in galleries for example, and sometimes bars or cafes ask me to paint on a wall or a ceiling. It’s nice, because now I can take the time to make the paintings.”

AweR thinks Berlin is a real graffiti city: “Here in Berlin a lot of people seem very interested in street art. I see many people taking pictures of street art and there are even ‘street art tours.’” He continues: “During my first exhibition for example, a sixty-year-old lady came up to me. She was carrying pictures of my work with her. She took all of them herself and asked me for a signature on each one.”

Mind trick
AweR believes street art in Berlin differs a bit from other cities. Whereas in Spain, Italy and Southern-America they use a lot of colors in their works, artists in Berlin keep it more sober. “Since I am here, I am drawing more and more black and white paintings, the styles here are a bit more dark.”

Step by step AweR has arrived to the style he is drawing in right now – and its still developing: “Of course I don’t only do it for people who are taking drugs and want to see it moving. I think it’s nice that when you see a drawing, it’s like a mind trick to you. You become hypnotized and you get lost in it.” He laughs: “Even I get lost in it sometimes.”

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