ETAM Cru's Bezt and Sainer Reunite in New Orleans
Looking back, it's been just over two years since Sainer and Bezt teamed up and painted a mural as ETAM Cru. Luckily for us, the two art academy friends were able to line up their schedules a few weeks ago to smash another beast of a mural in New Orleans.
Organized by the New Orleans Arts Council as part of their mission to support artists and demonstrate how art transforms communities, the Polish collaboration harmonized to compose an image filling an entire 20-by-50-meter wall. "It felt normal, I would say. I never thought about how it feels." Bezt explained to Juxtapoz about working as ETAM Cru again after such a long time."I didn't think of this wall as something special. If we didn't paint together for 20 years, maybe then it would be a huge thing."
"We're really good friends, so it's always great to work on something together," Sainer agreed, "Nothing changed in our relationship. For the last five years, we have lived in different cities, so that's the main reason we started to work on solo projects."
Though each has developed a distinct and discernible visual language, the two artistic styles compliment one another in a subdued palette where Sainer's portrait of a thoughtful young man looks out from within the history of Bezt's patterned rug.
"The first thing we thought was to find a composition that uses the shape of the wall in a proper way," Sainer said, elaborating on their thought process. "Recently I've preferred using characters as shapes, so only certain parts of the body have regular light most of the time. At first, I was thinking about the abstract composition of it. It's on a huge wall in the city center, so we didn't want to paint something that would bring even more of a rush dynamic to the area. That's why the composition is really calm and simple. For the background, we wanted to use elements suggesting a really simple room. The carpet on the wall references Polish tradition. When we were growing up in the 90s, almost every grandma's house had a carpet hung on the wall. The portrait is of my friend, Tomek. As I said, I want to use only the shape of the character, so the character itself doesn't have any meaning besides a formal and compositional aspect. And there is little tribute to Ajax on his shirt. I'm a big fan of football, so, from time to time, I like my characters to wear some retro jerseys."
When asked about working on such a large scale and in such an unusual format, Bezt reminded us that, "We've painted many walls together... it was easy from the painting point of view. Everybody knows what to do because we have the same approach to color usage, etc. It was super hot, but everything was organized very well, and I just had a great time. But, yeah, things like the sketch of the pattern took me three days to make. We have worked together for so many years that we know what to expect from each other, so it wasn't hard to plan how to work on this one. It was definitely easier than doing it alone!"
As for future collaborations, Bezt stated, "It would be great to paint one wall together per year, but no plans for now." And Sainer held hope that "We don't have anything planned for the future, but I'm sure something will happen sooner or later."