Hazul Luzah is an artist who predominates on the streets of Porto, Portugal’s second city after Lisbon. A self-taught graffiti writer, who has developed a style blending classic lettering, transformed into undecipherable, decorative calligraphic forms – which this interviewer mistook for Arabic calligraphy! – often mixed with imagery from nature, he describes his work as a “step-by-step” process, always building on his last work.
The latest invitee to the famed public art space, Le M.U.R., reserved solely for those with credible backgrounds in the street, pictured above, we briefly interviewed him, as follows.
What’s your artistic background?
I’m self-taught and began by making classic graffiti lettering. Over time I’ve practiced transforming the letters into abstract forms, and gradually appears my own style.
How did you first arrive at painting outdoors and what inspires you to paint work in the street?
I started to paint in Porto in 1997, where I’d become involved in the Hiphop scene. My interest in graffiti culture led to me create a crew with my friends – a normal process – and just for fun. After that I began to gain a consciousness about the impact and the meaning of exposing work in the streets and that consciousness transformed my work. Actually, I paint in the streets for social reasons, to communicate and to share.
How did the opportunity arise to paint Le MUR and what can you say about the work you left at the wall?
Being given the opportunity to paint Le M.U.R. (first image) has been super. I was invited after one of the organisers, Bob Jeudy, saw my work in Porto. It’s an honour to paint in such mythical place, where a lot of good artists have passed. This painting has the normal elements that are in my current work, the feminine figure, the birds and a mix of water and wind movement. It’s like a résumé, to introduce my art to Paris.
What’s your process for producing artwork and who and, or, what have been your main influences?
My process is progressive, always derived from the last effort, step-by-step. Normally, I leave an element and add a new one. I have a lot influences, but right now I’m fascinated with the Modernism and Futurism.
What’s the significance of Arabic calligraphy in your work?
I look for inspiration in very different cultures, not just the Arab. My mother language, Portuguese, is quite feminine on the page, with curves and spheres, so perhaps this reminds you of an arabesque style?
How does the context of where you’re painting affect your art?
The energy of the place in which I’m painting makes me choose between creating a smooth or a strong style, and which colours I use, too. The environment is key to what I produce.
What’s it like making street art in Porto and how does it compare to other cities such as Lisbon and Paris?
In Porto there are good artists working outdoors, but only a few, but its started growing. Paris, on the other hand, has a long history in street art, there are lots of works and commercial galleries, but it’s also hard to find a good place to paint. In Porto, its just the opposite, the street art movement is taking its first steps, but there, there are lots of good places to paint.
Hazul Luzah forced to paint over his own work by the Porto authorities.
In the past, you were forced by the Portuguese authorities to paint over your own art. It’s claimed one of your illegally painted works had been causing people to feel insecure. What’s your opinion on this claim, and in what way if any do you think unsanctioned street art should be controlled?
The majority of my outdoors work is made in abandoned houses, so I don’t think this causes insecurity. An art work in a space that will be destroyed and rebuilt in future shouldn’t be a problem. It’s normal that the city will clean the streets but it’s illogical to remove art from an abandoned space.
Visit Hazul Luzah on Facebook, here.