Speculative-Inspired Arts: GLEO

Street artist GLEO joins us this month to discuss both the inspiration and meaning of her larger-than-life designs, which can be found around the world on structures in Spain, Colombia, Turkey, and throughout the United States.

Your art has an otherworldly quality to it. What inspires your designs?

Artwork by GLEO, Cancun, Mexico

A long time ago I’ve searched a lot between ancestral cultures and their symbologies; somehow, I was trying to find my creative source in the outside world, and in that search recently I found nature. I rediscovered her and I’m discovering myself. I learned to see the world since young with the eyes of curiosity, and now I’m learning to be curious about all the world that lives in me and in all of us. For a long time I have searched for a way to be able to feed my creativity, but with time I discovered that in life I have had a lot of good and bad experiences that have always left a great learning of which to inspire me. Among all the complex that is life, today I think my inspiration comes from every experience that she gives me and the rest only flows painting.

There are two reoccurring themes in your art: flowers and the yellow and blue orbs. Can you share their meaning to your work?

“Inner World” by GLEO, Charlotte, North Carolina

Since I started developing my work, in some way very spontaneous and natural, the yellow circles were involved. Over time it is a constant repetition that I’m looking to give me meaning, but in reality, only it is a graphic way of feeling that I finished the painting. It is a game of infinite circles that play with millions of possibilities that can occur to me, as constant as my search for their meaning. On the other hand, the flowers are a company that I have since young, as my mother has always brought them into my life.

How do you choose the subjects featured in your artwork? Are they people you know or historical figures?

Katherine Johnson by GLEO, Valencia, Spain

I have crossed several stages in the portraits: they were first imaginary characters that over time began to be more realistic. Nowadays at this point I continue portraying friends and people that I meet in my trips. Each person brings a story and experience that feeds the themes of my paintings. Sometimes I have been invited to portray historical characters such as Katherine Johnson, a wonderful and inspiring mathematician; in this case I’m looking to be faithful to the intention of the person through my interpretation in painting. But in reality, when you perform a portrait, the only thing that feeds the theme and the atmosphere of that portrait is the experience lived with and around the portrayed person.

What is the biggest project you’ve worked on, both in time and in scale?

“The Original Dream” by GLEO, Wichita, Kansas

“The Original Dream” in Wichita, Kansas, was a 4,500 square meters, three months painting with five persons supporting each other.

Of all your finished projects, which one is your favorite, and why?

In all the projects I find something special, but certainly “The Original Dream” has been the project that most taught me to understand the path I wanted to take: it showed me to look inside and listen to me, to learn to communicate with others. This wall is so great because of the message: the union, and much more powerful with all the people of the city of Wichita that they joined the project to make this giant mural possible.

“Interior Gold” by GLEO, Lyon, France

If you could pick any building and location in the world for your next project, where would it be?

Actually, it would be where the possibilities of painting the best I can. I just want to always have the opportunity.

Follow GLEO around the world via her Instagram @gleo_co