Simple Man, Elegant Style: Alex Yopra
Interview by T.K. Mills - Images Provided by Polly Dawson and Thirdrailart
At this year’s rendition of the Akumal Arts Festival, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Yopra once more. Alex and I both share the honor of having attended all four of the festival’s editions, and in the year’s I’ve known him, I’ve watched as he has grown as an artist, from painting a few small murals to earning one of the prime spots painting on the bridge. In the same time, I’ve witnessed as Alex’s English improved (our first interview was a bit difficult, given neither of us we’re fluent in the other’s native language.) However, even with his English mastered, Alex Yopra is a man of few words, preferring to let his art and earnest smile speak for him.
T.K.: Where are you from?
Alex: So, I’m from Mexico City, but I’m living in Oaxaca on the Pacific Coast now. Well, I’m here in Akumal for painting. I'm very happy to be here.
T.K.: When did you first start painting?
Alex: When I was like 4 years, was when I first started painting.
T.K.: When did you first start painting with spray paint?
Alex: With spray, maybe when I was like 13-14.
T.K.: And how old are you now?
Alex: I’m 39.
T.K.: With your spray paint work, did you start out with graffiti?
Alex: Yeah. I started with graffiti. It began with painting in my books or sketches. But after going out with my friends, I painted with spray paint and loved it.
T.K.: When was the first year you painted at Akumal?
Alex: I was here painting since the beginning, in the first festival.
T.K.: What inspired your idea for this piece over here [a large mural on the bridge], the girl with the robot arm?
Alex: That came of my style. That’s my first time to paint something like this. Here, it’s the same. So, I’m trying to continue with this style to create some creature.
T.K.: How has your style evolved artistically?
Alex: I like to paint in space. Sometimes people say I can paint some face. Some faces I can paint well. I like to paint in an organic style.
T.K.: How many murals have you done in Akumal?
Alex: Across the years, I think six.
T.K.: Do you have a favorite mural?
Alex: Well, I like all the murals. All the people. All the guys. They are very nice.
T.K.: What’s your favorite color to paint with?
Alex: I like all the colors. And I’m trying with the gold, with the silver, with another color for shiny effect.
T.K.: When you are doing a mural, do you usually sketch it first or do you freehand? What’s your process like?
Alex: Sometimes it’s free. Sometimes I need to prepare a bit.
T.K.: Is there anywhere outside of Akumal that you’ve done murals?
Alex: Outside Akumal? Yeah, I have more. I live Oaxaca. And so, I have my murals there. A bunch here in Mexico.
T.K: Do you always use spray paint, or do you sometimes like to paint canvass? What other mediums do you use?
Alex: When I paint in some murals like these ladies, I like to paint with straight spray, or though sometimes I can mix in acrylic.
T.K.: Is there any place that you’ve never painted, where you’d love to have a wall?
Alex: I would like to go to many places to paint. The most, probably New York.
T.K.: How would you describe yourself?
Alex: Simple guy. I’m a simple guy. Yeah.
T.K.: What are some things that influence you or inspire you?
Alex: For me, I like Michelangelo. I like classical art.
T.K.: Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your work?
Alex: Come to Akumal to see the art! Thank you, Akumal. Thank you for all the people who come to appreciate the art. Welcome.