Growing up in an artistic family that encouraged his talent, Jofre Oliveras has always known he would become an artist, even if he foresaw a more traditional path than painting monumental murals with strong political messages in the public space.
Jofre Oliveras’s Story
Jofre Oliveras began doing graffiti with his friends at the age of 12, but soon he turned his attention to fine art. He started painting canvases in his studio while, at the same time, he actively started looking for places to show his art. In his hometown of Girona, Jofre found several public locations that were unused and transformed these spaces of untapped potential into alternative exhibition venues for his art.
“When I started doing exhibitions, I wasn’t exhibiting at actual galleries, but the spaces I was taking back for my exhibitions were less in line with the art world and its outdated idea of showing art.”Jofre Oliveras
Jofre Oliveras | The Road to Public Space
Jofre Oliveras painted his first mural in 2015 inside an abandoned building near Girona using only an extension pole and some black paint. He described it to me as “an abstract mural, with multi-directional ant queues starting from the Flower of Life,” which is the sacred geometric form of the dodecahedron.
Although Jofre’s style is different now, I couldn’t help but notice how the idea of a natural order implicit in sacred geometry was already a big inspiration for him. Back then, Jofre was representing the sense of life we are all connected to through geometry and the relation between rationality and aesthetics. According to sacred geometry, all consciousness, including humans, is based on such underlying geometry in nature (think of fractals, recurring patterns, and ratios). Sacred geometry creates balance between opposites; the resulting challenge of seeing the opposite as complementary, as concepts that share the same essence, is still at the core of Jofre Oliveras’ art manifesto.
“A canvas is an object, an object that is made for sale; but when you paint walls, there is a relationship with the landscape around it. This is more powerful, because it’s site-specific. The artwork is made for a specific context.”Jofre Oliveras
This early mural kicked off Jofre Oliveras’ quest for a language that would express all the different facets of his art practice. Back then, he was juggling different things in the art world, from painting canvases to organizing art exhibitions and events in formerly neglected spaces, alongside studying philosophy and communication at the university. Language study, in particular, set him on the path of investigating the relationship between art and languages.
“What’s the sense of art? I studied it in-depth and realized that art is a language that we use to express beauty, and to communicate with other people. The artist’s language is really connected with communication, with the beholder. And so it’s living in a community, either as a human being on the planet, or like I do in a commune.”Jofre Oliveras
Jofre Oliveras | The Self-Sustained Lifestyle
After living in a commune in Girona and then in a van for several years, Jofre Oliveras joined The Konvent, an artist-driven commune in Cal Rosal (near Barcelona, Spain). Born inside a former nun’s convent and textile factory, this disused industrial space has become an experimental laboratory for all kinds of artists, especially those who have no place in the frame of institutional culture.
“I believe living in a commune is more aligned with our nature. We are social animals. Everything, in our life, is based on a social structure, and on a shared language. Art is, in fact, our global shared language.”Jofre Oliveras
Jofre Oliveras has taken advantage of this vast, post-industrial space to build, cut, sew, and widely experiment with his art, creating installations and huge productions that would have been impossible to build elsewhere.
“Living at The Konvent has been a great influence for me. Not only does it provide me the space I need to create my art, but it also makes me feel more connected with life. It pushes me to take responsibility and act upon what life is giving to me. And it’s a collective experience, because everyone is participating in this kind of interaction.”Jofre Oliveras
The former convent is also the perfect location to organize events with a social focus, such as “The Banquet,” organized in August 2022 to raise funds for The Great Oven. The Great Oven is an association that builds giant artistic ovens that come with a family of cooks, artists, and musicians to those who need them the most, like refugee camps, war-torn communities, and inner cities in crisis.
Another social project that Jofre Oliveras has carried on successfully in the latest years is the Underline Project, which brought him to live and create in Jordan and in Lebanon together with the art collective “Persona” using art as an excuse to generate social movement and promote self-sufficiency. Organized by Art of Change with the help of Sami Wakim from Street Art United States, this art-driven social project “promotes an idea of a cross-border artistic community based on the dissemination of Human Rights through different actions,” namely public art installations.
Jofre Oliveras’ Public Art Installations for Nuart Festival
I first met Jofre in Stavanger during the 2019 Nuart Festival, and then again in Aberdeen for the 2022 Nuart Aberdeen Festival. On both occasions, I saw him creating artworks with an impeccable realistic style and a strong social message.
Jofre Oliveras at Stavanger’s Nuart Festival in 2019
In “Beholders,” Jofre Oliveras reflects on how both the media and the art world are addressing the refugee crisis. The mural painted for Nuart Festival stresses how both artists and the general public are passive observers of this critical situation.
Moreover, Jofre created an impressive installation for the Nuart festival’s indoor exhibition. He produced a series of “classic” paintings, which were later vandalized by 1UP Crew’s high-pressure fire extinguisher: a performance that perfectly summarized the festival theme for 2019 – the contrast between old and new – but also spoke against the speculation of art dealers based on the artist’s name.
Jofre Oliveras at Nuart Aberdeen in 2022
“The man who owns the stone” was the first mural to be completed at Nuart Aberdeen 2022, and its powerful message sets the tone for all the other artworks created around this year’s theme of “Reconnect.” Jofre shows what is stopping us from being connected; namely, nationalism. The mural is a metaphor for our isolation. The man is blinded by the flag he is fiercely carrying and thus doesn’t realize that the issues we are called to face, from climate change to the depletion of resources to the migration crisis, demand for a shared vision. However, joining forces and acting together become impossible to accomplish if we all only care about our own stone.
These two interventions serve as perfect examples of how Jofre Oliveras uses his art as a communication tool to build social focus.