The artist who became known as the 'Pintor Dorado' still prefers to remain anonymous. / SUR

The new life of 'the gold painter': fast food delivery

His artistic interventions on waste bins and benches caused uproar; seven years later he combines his everyday job with organising an exhibition as members of the local art scene help him raise funds to pay his fine

ALBERTO GÓMEZ

It is seven years since people in Rincón de la Victoria woke up to find that some of the street furniture had been painted gold. Some were outraged and said it was an act of vandalism, while others defended it as a work of art. The person responsible, an anonymous 20-year-old resident, was trying to highlight the value of urban elements that usually went unnoticed, despite having a basic function such as waste bins, benches and fountains. Even the mayor, Francisco Salado, admitted that it looked quite nice: "We're not planning to fine the culprit this time. We don't think it looks bad, actually, but people mustn't do things like this without permission," he said.

The gold creations also appeared in Malaga city, in the Soho district famed for its urban art.

However, the adventures of this young artist who aspired to be another Banksy ended in April 2015, when he was arrested. The National Police then posted a message for their nearly four million followers on Twitter: "If you want to paint something in your life, paint your face, or your house, paint the Mona Lisa...but respect other people and what belongs to everyone!" it said

In December, the provincial high court confirmed the sentence handed down by a court in Malaga: a fine of nearly eight thousand euros. Now, seven years later and aged 26, this urban artist still doesn't want his face to be shown or his name to be made public: "I don't want any more reprisals, although local people have always supported me," he explains.

He is working as a home delivery driver for an Asian restaurant at the moment, while he decides what he wants to do with his life. He says he sees everything in his job. "It makes me laugh, because 90 per cent of the people are in their pyjamas and open the door to you like that. The weekends are really busy, but at least I earn a bit of money. People are normally nice, although I have had some bad experiences. Honestly, you could write a sociology thesis based on this," he says.

But for the moment he concentrates on painting. Not even the fine has stopped his vocation. "I still believe in my project," he says.

He is not part of the official cultural circles, financed by the administrations, but has found a place at La Casa Invisible, an initiative like his own, on the margin and now under threat of eviction.

"Even if they gave me the choice between exhibiting at the CAC or La Invisible, I would go for La Invisible. If I exhibited at the CAC, the council would be involved. There would be no room for transgression, I would have bowed down to the market," he says. He is planning to work on an exhibition with them in the next few months.

Along this rough road, there has always been a hand extended by Tecla Lumbreras, the vice-chancellor for Culture at Malaga University and the soul of the Contenedor Cultural association: "It seems crazy to me that in a city which is so committed to culture, a graffiti artist can be arrested and fined heavily when what he is doing is highlighting the value of objects that people hardly notice, and drawing their attention to them," she says.

She also says it is regrettable that local artists find it so difficult, with few opportunities: "There are a lot of museums, but few places for living artists here. They have nowhere to go. That's why there are self-run cultural projects," she says.

Help to pay the fine

People who are part of the local art scene are making efforts to raise money to help the 'gold painter' to pay his fine, including auctioning works of art and a course in graffiti art and selling specially designed tee-shirts.

"What I did," says the artist, "is draw people's attention to the benches, the waste bins and the fountains because there are fewer and fewer of them these days and they have an essential purpose".

Paying the fine is difficult because his job is not secure, and he is having to accept help from his parents. "Without them it would have been impossible to pay the lawyers and everything. But we are only a normal family. My father works in IT and my mother teaches adults. At first they were really worried and kept asking what on earth I thought I had been doing, but they do feel this is an injustice."

He has one younger sister, who is studying law. "Oh well, if I get into trouble again, maybe she can defend me in a few years' time," he jokes.