Smurfette parading with her implants in Brussels, Chewbacca hangin’ out at the Busó parade, and poor Mikrobi kidnapped by the Jawas—Hungarian street artist 0036MARK, who remains anonymous, brings retro cartoon characters to the streets, and even Florence Pugh shared one of his artworks.
Why did you choose to put retro cartoon characters on the walls? Which was your favorite as a child?
This was only partly a conscious choice, and I watched far fewer cartoons as a child than my work would suggest. After I stopped doing graffiti, I started looking for what I wanted to bring to the streets. My list included buzzwords such as accessible, Hungarian, international, pop culture, visual humor, and personal memory/experience. Mixing retro cartoons with pop culture covered my ideas the best. Unfortunately, in return, I waited fifteen years before the muse kissed me on the forehead and the right idea hit me.
When did you become a street artist? Does your civil profession have anything to do with visuality or art?
My short-lived graffiti era ended around 2004, but it certainly helped me to not only think in terms of graphics, but to always think of the street as a potential channel in the back of my head. In the meantime, I had some projects, but few were outstanding, and I finally returned to the walls at the end of 2018. My profession has nothing to do with art, by the way, and my work only contains traces of visuality. Fortunately, only to the extent that it hasn’t yet compromised street art. If I were a professional pixel pusher, I don’t think I’d feel like drawing for my own amusement on top of my day job. I don’t even want to mix the two, because I suspect that as soon as my livelihood depended on art, I would no longer see it as a passion, but as a means to buy the next baloney sandwich and pay the electric bill.
In one of your posts, you mention that you even took a drawing of Pamela Smurfette with you to Brussels. Where can we see 0036mark artworks outside Budapest?
In fact, I created Pamela Smurfette specifically for that Brussels trip, but of course, this is not how it usually works; but when I travel I do some of my creations with me. Since they are paper-based artworks, they disappear completely in 1-2 years at the most. The last time I glued them abroad was in Lisbon, and here in Hungary maybe in Pécs, of which there are still a few on the walls.
The street art genre requires anonymity, as you are mostly working in illegal places. But after a while, wouldn’t you want to be known and recognized?
Anonymity has its own charm. On the one hand, it allows the work to prevail without the artist’s identity intruding. On the other hand, if you can’t associate an artist with the work, you picture one for yourself. You embellish them with the qualities dictated by your personal preferences and imagination. I think that once a real person is attached to a work of art, that magic is lost a bit, and no matter how cool I am, I can’t compete with the personalized ideal. Of course, I want recognition as much as the next person, but I try to keep the personal visibility to a narrow circle and reap the accolades online. And, not incidentally, I would hate to see my face appear on the police website! Although I can’t decide for myself which criminal category I’d fall into, if the sculptor Kolodko gets to drill the quay, members of the Two Tailed Dog Party get fined for painting the cracks in the asphalt with color, and I stick paper on the walls.
Which of your illustrations has provoked the greatest response?
If I were to measure it in likes, it would be the Midsommar / Jungle Book mashup, because the film’s lead actress Florence Pugh shared it on her Instagram, so she gained a ton of likes for me. One of my personal favorites was AntallTales, because it clicked with a whole generation, but the altarpiece of Dr. Bubó and Ursula (characters from the Hungarian cartoon Kérem a következőt! [Next patient, please]; the owl doctor and his warm-hearted bear assistant—the Transl.) on the wall of the doctor’s office was also a hit, and it was also very nice when actor and humorist Zoltán Mucsi shared the Mekk Elek / Feketeország—electrical work mashup (Mekk Elek being the friendly handyman goat from the Hungarian cartoon series Mekk Elek, az ezermester [Mekk Elek, the Handyman]—the Transl.).
You had an exhibition last year, are you planning to “come off the wall” again anytime soon?
This year I will have an appearance off the streets and I will definitely have a solo exhibition, which I am greatly looking forward to, but also very afraid of, because street art has the peculiarity that once you put it in an exhibition space, it loses its relevance. It’s rewarding to be seen outside the street, but at the same time, if I want to degrade what I do, these are just humorous mashups that are a quite challenging to present as high art on a gallery wall. So it fills me with both pride and fear to be seen inside the four walls. In any case, I’m already sketching out some ideas and I trust they will work for the public, as well.
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