By Staci Golar
Adrián Takano is a self-taught Mestizo artist who specializes in spectacular street art. Strolling around Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, where Takano lives, unsuspecting viewers are stopped in their tracks by his big, bold murals that adorn the town. The murals are a powerful mix of magical realism, Mesoamerican and Aridoamerican aesthetics, and vibrant color. Their subject matter almost always honors the strong cultural roots of Mexico via depictions of the Indigenous peoples, though other Indigenous peoples sometimes make an appearance in them, as well.
Takano grew up in Mexico City and worked as a freelance illustrator there, as well. Eleven years ago, he visited the quieter coastal community of Puerto Vallarta for a vacation and never left. It was there that he began to both create and teach art and his murals can now be found in eight countries around the world.
Takano took a moment to share a snippet of his life and thoughts during this time of surreal, ordered shutdowns and self-isolation.
What are you currently working on, and why?
I’m currently working on a project that involves painting murals in several public schools in and around Puerto Vallarta. So far, I have completed seven walls since the project began in late January 2020. My main goal is to inspire young students to make their own artistic projects and perhaps become more interested in our cultural roots.
Our schools teach history to kids in a way that neglects some of the most important aspects of the cultural heritage of our ancestors. As a result, our society has grown with amnesia due to the Eurocentric view of our own history that is perpetuated by the educational system.
In my artwork, I rarely aim to criticize. Rather, I think it’s important to dignify our Indigenous tribes, their cultures, and their history, and to show their connection with the present.
Who or what are you most inspired by right now?
I’m inspired by the things that connect us all as humans: music, art, dancing, movement, light. I’m very inspired by the things that form our identities as society and as individuals. History is one of them. I’m fascinated with ancestral knowledge from the Toltec and the Maya. Mesoamerican art has been my favorite since I was very young, and it continues to inspire me.
Do you think this period in time has the potential to change your work if it hasn’t already?
In this particular moment, we are forced to slow down and be more conscious about the way we interact with the world. Perhaps it is also a good time to reflect on how my work can evolve into something that even more people can relate to. We are all going to be different after this pandemic, so it makes sense that the art changes in one aspect or another as well.
On the other hand, I have a very clear vision at the moment of what I want to achieve with my work. So, however much it may change, I think the focus will remain the same: public art that celebrates Mexico’s cultural roots.
What role do you think art can play in a time of crisis?
In my opinion, street art acts like a thermostat of the social context. A thermostat consists of two elements: a sensor that detects changes in the temperature of the environment and a mechanism that is able to change said temperature. Such can be the power of art at a time of crisis.