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This Mexican Street Artist Mixes Science Fiction and Psychedelia

Muralist, illustrato, and all-around renaissance man Smithe is creating his own brand of sci-fi surrealism.

DJ Pangburn

DJ Pangburn

All images courtesy the artist.

South of the US-Mexico border, Smithe, aka Luis Enrique, creates some of the most striking graffiti and murals seen on the streets of Mexico City. But Smithe isn't just plying his trade in his home city. He takes his talents abroad, including stops in Miami for the Scope Art Show and New York City, where in 2013, he painted the largest mural of his career. Smithe's latest works, which he showcases on Instagram, are paint on canvas. They have a distinctly sci-fi and surrealist flair, dominated by rich pastels and stylistically drawn from psychedelia and pop art.

Smithe tells The Creators Project that his interest in art began with an early interest in sculpture. He says that he has always been interested in graphic design, sketching, and drawing, but he also considers himself a draftsman of sorts. By the age of 14, Smithe painted his first
graffiti mural, crediting Moebius, Heavy Metal magazine, and Virgil Finlay as his great artistic inspirations.

"While in school with friends, my interest in the art of graffiti grew," Smithe says. "Later, I continued in the arts [as] I saw that this in reality would be a way to make a living. The art of illustration caught my interest and there it flourished. Meanwhile, I continued painting and have completed several murals."

"At first, I felt my art had no message," he adds. "Unconsciously during those years I formed many ideas, my way of observing and seeing all things, both in dreams and images. I had to express this in an art form. It's a bit selfish to make an artwork without explaining it at all, but I get more satisfaction when I create an artwork where people form their own ideas and have their own thoughts."

In his art studio, Smithe is constantly at work. But even though he is always drawing and painting, Smithe still finds himself searching for a piece that will give him total satisfaction. Part of this, he believes, has to do with not spending enough time on each piece, a problem he hopes to remedy in 2017.

"In the studio it is totally different — you are in front of paper or canvas," he says. "In my street art, I work amongst the people and in the neighborhoods where I create my murals. In Mexico, the people react differently when you paint street art. They bring you food. They take an interest in the process of the mural's completion… Whether [the work] is on paper, a wall or canvas, each has its own magic."

Outside of his murals and paintings, a lot of Smithe's time is occupied with TOBA, his gallery located in Mexico City. There, every two months, he features an exhibition for a new artist. He is also in the process of recording a second album with his band, Stendal, as well as continuing to produce clothing for his brand Tony Delfino, which he created with friend Jesus Benitez.

In between it all, Smithe is working on completing a new series of artworks. And, as if that weren't enough, Smithe says he also considering several ideas for new projects.

Click here to see more of Smithe's paintings and murals.

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