Updated: Jun 15
Contemporary artist Ruben Sanchez brings the legacy and artistic heritage of fellow Spanish artists Picasso, Miro and Juan Gris into the 21st century. His colorful murals and paintings reflect the Mediterranean lifestyle and culture. When I look at his work, in addition to talent and energy the word "courage" comes to mind.
From humble beginnings to international commissions, from street art to fine art, the journey of Ruben Sanchez is a zero to seventy ride. Within a few years he has produced an amazing body of work. From his large-scale murals in Spain, Dubai, NY, Vancouver BC, Texas, and Jordan, to the sculpture for the Nike European HQ in the Netherlands, the perception of street art and its evolution via Ruben Sanchez is very impressive. When the angst filled teen left school at 16, he took the identity and skills he found in the skateboarding and graffiti culture of Madrid and focused them into design and art. Armed with street experience, a fearless “can do” attitude, talent, and using his art as a vehicle for a social change, no project has seemed too daunting.
In 2000 he moved to Barcelona to work as a designer and an art director for a friend's skateboard brand. It was there that he developed his graphic design skills and signature style. The turning point in his career came in 2012 when he was invited to begin a one-year art residency program Tashkeel in Dubai, established by Lateefa bint Maktoum, the niece of Dubai's former ruler. Dubai proved to be an artistic incubator, providing support, accommodations and a studio space, his creativity took flight, and his career was launched. He painted the first public art mural in the capital. It took six months to get permission to create art that had previously been illegal. The project was so successful that he was in constant demand for commissioned murals and paintings that he stayed for four years. To balance living in a very opulent culture, he began volunteering for humanitarian projects through an American organization AptArts, that brings awareness to world issues. He traveled to border areas between Jordan and Syria to teach workshops to children and paint murals in refugee camps.
One of his most challenging and important projects is a mural on the side of a six-story building in Russeifa, Jordan, standing on a rickety crane while a two-day sandstorm raged through the city.
"It depicts a woman oppressed by the walls of her house, trying to take down the walls and metaphorically open herself to the world. While I don’t think it will change women having equal rights there, maybe it will start a conversation about it.” RS
Ruben Sanchez currently lives and works in his studio in Badalona, Spain producing limited editions of silkscreen prints, ceramics, sculptures and paintings. He is a great example of why it is so important to support artists by providing affordable space to work and opportunities to develop their art. Most cities in the world are no longer affordable for the arts, and neighborhoods that inhabited artists have become gentrified and developed. See more of Ruben Sanchez's story and his eclectic body of work:
This week the class was inspired by the colorful work of Ruben Sanchez. We created mixed media collages using bright colors and some of his signature symbols and imagery. He is one of their favorite artists to date. We talked about the concept's self-taught art and art as a social vehicle. They loved his colors and shapes, especially the murals with a touch of humor, and found his cameos in the photos very funny.