RIP, Hyuro, A Pioneering Force and Poetic Voice in Street and Contemporary Art
For the past year, I’ve kept a drawing above my desk by Argentianian born, Spanish-based artist, Hyuro / Tamara Djurovic. As with most of her work, and we would get into little friendly arguments over whether it was she in this drawing, a self-portrait in a serene pose with a bit of a dire foundation; hands pointed skyward in that stereotypical yoga stance, one-leg extended up to the other knee, and the other leg balancing on two paint brushes, the fine hairs ever so cautiously and elegantly supporting her. The handles are ever almost imperceptibly off balance, a signature of her precise and thoughtful.. Peace in uncertainty. A strong mind in peril. A powerful woman finding inner strength in this unstable universe. Our lives really so fragile. The piece is called Cultivating the Balance. It hangs above my head today.
Hyuro passed away this week in Valencia, Spain. Many will speak of her legendary status in the street art and mural art communities, and indeed, she was. But this was a career not yet in full bloom. If you went to a festival over the past decade, Hyuro was often the only woman participating, and as representation started to evolve in recent years, that was probably because of her. She was an original, not only in the street art realm, but within the whole art community. A rebellious spirit, philosopher, social observer, mother, always bitingly funny, passionate, and curious, she was timeless as she looked to the future. She was an amazing painter who always questioned herself in the best way possible….I could go on and on but don’t want to break our bond. She would probably laugh at me as I tried to write this.
That’s her on the walls, not a model as she might protest. Laying herself bare on city streets across the world, whether in conversation about feminism, politics, or a personal discussion she’d have with herself… it was her. She would obscure faces, and that made it seem more anonymous, but it was her in the most elegant visual poems you would ever see. She once remarked to me, “I like the idea of ‘no time.’ Time is a control.” Poetic to the bone, she was.
The work was personal. She would say that in many ways the work she created was more of a conversation about her research into a place rather than some perfectly crafted conclusion. I loved this about her. Life didn’t really have conclusions. Just more questions. More walls to facilitate a personal conversation. More walks to figure it all out. More time to step back, look at a wall and make adjustments. The signature look she got from her father, looking at her finished work. It was all there. It was why she was a legend. She was the artist’s artist, the real one. There was no one quite like her.
I spent a lot of time with Hyuro over the last 5 years, but of course, not this year. The drawing over my desk was my guardian, instead, a gift from a dear friend. It was a reminder of just how precious all the things we perhaps took for granted in previous years; literally how a walk with a friend in a city that was not your own was just so goddamn important. All the times I met with Hyuro at street art festivals and we walked the streets trying to find some sort of extra meaning in everything even though we had spent hours before breaking it all down. That was how Hyuro was. She was the most original spirit I have met in art, and she made me a more passionate writer and observer. I keep saying that word but when I think of Tamara I think of that; an observer. She took it all in and dissected and dissected until it was this perfectly raw piece of art and an extension of herself. It was all so real.
I interviewed her for Juxtapoz in the middle of a large room at the Bauhaus Museum in Berlin. It wasn't really the intention but the music was great, some Jazz and Beatles in Spanish, and we sort of laughed and philosophized our way through what was a great interview. I didn’t realize it then, but I do now. Everytime she and I had to do something work related, whether I had to give a talk or she had to present her work or had to talk to a larger group of people than she wanted, she would pull me away and we would take a walk. We did this in Berlin, Norway, Scotland, Miami… but we would take a walk. And we wouldn’t talk. At all. Just two friends who needed a break. And she taught me to appreciate the unexpected because I never did. That was what she was doing for me, giving me a moment to just appreciate the silence of the city in a way that she saw it. It felt like the most personal conversation one could have and yet we didn't say a thing. I’ll never forget that. She told me once, “I think we need to hold onto that feeling, being uncomfortable, that sensation. I like that. It’s a good sign.” Well my dear friend… you got me there. —Evan Pricco