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Paul Curtis, a master of ‘reverse graffiti’

«Signature, text or pictorial composition generally made without authorization in public places, on a wall or other resistant surface». This is the definition of graffiti that Benifallet-based artist Paul Curtis –also known by the pseudonym ‘Moose’– has turned 180 degrees on. Curtis is known for being the creator of reverse graffiti, a technique that consists of using pressurized water to remove dirt from a wall or wall, and creating unique images as a result of the contrast between clean and dirty areas.

The artist moved to Benifallet (Baix Ebre) a decade ago, where he lives with his partner Amanda and their two daughters, ages one and four. A change of life that he describes as “a magical moment”. “We made the decision spontaneously and immediately after visiting a farm,” explains Curtis, to which Amanda adds that “so far we hadn’t known anything about the town, and when we were at the farm we thought it was beautiful and we didn’t hesitate to move” .

In fact, Benifallet boasts different reverse graffiti signed by the artist and that fill the public space with art, including an image that Curtis designed in the playground and, the most recent, a mural in homage to the boat and the old pass of boat of the locality and the Terres de l’Ebre, which is part of the tourist campaign and the motto Benifallet, tots els camins t’hi porten promoted by the city council. An artistic intervention that has given residents and visitors the opportunity to see how the artist develops his work live.

The technique

Paul Curtis’s artistic career has taken him around the world, since he has worked in America, Germany, Denmark, Australia, Mexico, Mozambique, Singapore, Sweden or England and for companies –Nike, Adidas, among others– and international organizations such as Greenpece.

“My artistic work with the reverse graffiti technique has been very special in my career, which has led me, for more than twenty years, to travel around the world,” he explains. But before dedicating himself to the world of art, ‘Moose’ began in the record sector, since, he acknowledges, “my great passion and what changes my spirit day after day is music, which later led me to the artistic world and to create the reverse graffiti».

Regarding what is special about this artistic technique, its creator highlights that “it totally changes the concept of graffiti, since it is not an illegal image”. The reason is in the way Curtis designs his murals. «Unlike graffiti, in which paint or spray is used, the reverse graffiti process consists of cleaning a dirty wall, that is, it does not involve destruction because I do not use any product, material, or paint, but that by means of pressurized water I clean the dirt on the wall, generating a contrast between the clean and the dirty part».

The artist uses templates that he has previously made on wood. “First, when I have the idea, I draw the template on wood and cut it out by hand, and then place it on a wall or on the floor to apply pressurized water and etch the drawing on the surface,” Curtis details. Regarding the difficulty of reverse graffiti, he himself explains that “it is finding the right wall, since I need the surface to be very flat and the concrete to be of quality, that is, the area to be as natural as possible, because I can’t work if there is already another piece of graffiti or if it has been painted over.”

Community service

For all these reasons, Paul Curtis considers that his technique is, in a certain way, a service to the community. “When the police visit me while I work, he observes that I am not making a mess, quite the opposite, what I am doing is cleaning a wall or the floor,” he details.

In fact, through his creations, the artist based in Benifallet wants to make the population aware of the harmful effects of the pollution that surrounds us. “We are not aware of how pollution affects us and the consequences of pollution from cars,” says Curtis. Likewise, the message that he wants to transmit to future generations is the one that he has left engraved in his artistic performances all over the world and that, as Amanda recalls, «reverse graffiti is an example that art can be made in another way, recovering the value of little things.

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