- Text by Shelley Jones
BB Bastidas is a wandering street artist from Oceanside, CA. His murals, paintings, illustrations, sculptures and installations all play with mythical and spiritual forms and ideas – from white horses, serpents and all-seeing eyes to religious iconography, cosmic patterns and tribal talismans. Fresh from his DGK summer show Fuck BB at the Kayo Store, North Fairfax, LA – which featured Egyptian symbols and structures with a Californian twist – BB embarked on a pretty loose tour of Europe and a couple weeks ago he found the perfect wall for a mural he dreamt up on the road.
The resulting piece – a huge hooded figure levitating over the Leonard Street car park – took life just a couple doors down from the Huck gallery, 71a, and we caught up with the enigmatic artist while he was kicking around London town to find out more about the serendipitous sequence of events that brought him to our doorstep.
What brought you to Europe and what have you been up to art-wise on your trip?
My girlfriend’s French. So I came to Marseille to visit her. I was only supposed to be in Europe for three weeks. But I ended up changing my flight to stay for three months. I started a book called Tales of Dreams and Destruction – it’s an illustrated book about my travels in Europe and a dream log. I also started a new series of paintings for a show in France. And I just did this mural in London it’s my biggest one yet.
When did you decide you wanted to paint a mural in London? How did you find the spot?
Well I wanted to do a big mural in Europe and went to Spain but didn’t really find anything. Then I went to Paris and I had a chance to paint the outside of the La Tour Paris 13 building – it’s a bunch of street artists that get to paint their own room it was really sick! But they told me they were going to blow the building up soon and taggers would most likely paint over it. So I wasn’t into it. Then I met with a gypsy and she said London was where it’s at and I need to be here so here I am.
What’s the Revelation 2013 mural all about? What inspired it?
It’s from a painting I did. Basically I bought a reprint of a Diego Velazquez painting from a second-hand store in oceanside, CA, and I painted that angel on it when I saw his painting. All my murals are paintings I’ve done before. But the angel has an all-seeing eye where the cross or sacred hart would typically be. It’s contradicting really and there’s a huge serpent coming from the gown. To the left is a quote from the book of Revelation 1 17/18. But it’s art so I guess you can interpret it however you want – that’s the beauty of it.
How long did it take to paint? What were the challenges?
It’s in a car park so I could only paint it from Saturday to Sunday, which isn’t long for a mural of that size and without a scissor lift. I came Friday night and buffed the wall black. Then went to town on the weekend – it rained off and on all three days. The challenges started in France. I tried for two weeks to reach out to people in London about a wall with no luck. So I said fuck it and flew over. I ran out of money in two days but by that time had a wall but no money for spraypaint. I posted something on Instagram about my dilemma and a legend by the name of Matty from Manchester emailed me saying he could get paint from his university store ‘cos he was a student there. He drove like four hours to London and hooked me up with paint. The next day me and my homie Jake hired a ladder and had to walk it two miles to the wall. It was heavy as shit. On the last day there was guys doing construction in the same car park and they found what they thought was a dead body so they had to call it in and some c*nt drove two hours to tell me to stop and to find out it was the remains of a 200-year old sheep. So I waited for him to leave and had to paint the rest in the dark.
How do you hope Londoners react to the mural?
Umm I don’t really know how they will react? I just paint what I want and let people like it or not.
How does painting in London compare to painting in CA?
It’s actually kind of similar. East London’s street art scene reminds me of downtown LA art district.
How do you approach projects and collaborations?
I would say with collaborations with skate companies are pretty organic. I don’t know I get random calls and emails. Some things I’m hyped on, some I’m not. If I really want to do something that I’m hyped on I’ll just go make it work. But overall shit just happens to take place pretty naturally. In America it’s a lot easier for me than Europe.
What projects do you have coming up?
I just did something special with Baker. You’ll see it soon.
What are your plans now? Are you heading back to US?
I’m going back to France after England I want to skate the parks here in London first and do some more art then back home. I miss Mexican food and my krue, and good weather.