‘Painting on walls is an integral part of my soul’
â€œIt kind of reminds me of how things were with tattoos. In the past, whoever had a tattoo was categorized as a certain type of person. It was the same with graffiti. But nowadays itâ€™s not like that anymore, itâ€™s turned into a loved and accepted form of street art. I mean, people actually go on graffiti tours,â€� says Benzi Brofman.
And when they do, thereâ€™s a good chance that theyâ€™ll come across one of his works, whether in Israel, London, Amsterdam or elsewhere in the world.
The 39-year-old artist from Migdal HaEmek in northern Israel has been interested in art for as long as he can remember.
â€œWhen I first saw a can of spray [paint], it made me feel really passionate to touch it, see how the color comes out. That was around the age of 13 or 14,â€� Brofman tells ISRAEL21c.
â€œLike a lot of people, the whole thing with spray comes and goes, because entering the world of spray requires a lot of perseverance. You need to really understand this world both on a technical and a visual level. After all, itâ€™s not painting on A4-sized paper, but on huge walls and buildings,â€� he says.
â€œAt some point, I neglected the spray and moved on to other materials, but when youâ€™re passionate about something it happens, so I ended up returning to spray. For me, spray is an integral part of my hand, painting on walls is an integral part of my soul, and itâ€™s absolutely my place in the art world.â€�
They ask questions
Brofman not only does graffiti walls in cities around the world, but he also creates wall art for restaurants, high-tech offices and municipalities, runs graffiti parties for kids and workshops for corporations, and gives lectures on graffiti.
â€œI never studied painting in any kind of framework. More than that â€“ no frameworks ever accepted me as an artist. That is a very big part of my process,â€� Brofman confides.
â€œBut nowadays, I can see a five-year-old excited about my work and an 85-year-old excited and interested in my work. It appeals to all sorts of people, both in Israel and abroad.â€�
â€œI feel that Iâ€™m doing something that really, really interests people. When Iâ€™m painting here or abroad, people stop. They stop, speak with me, take photos, ask questions,â€� he says.
â€œI donâ€™t only do a wall painting thatâ€™s visually interesting or cool for a photo on Instagram. I also create communication. If I were to stand in the middle of the street and just lean on a wall, no one would stop to speak with me. But when I â€˜leanâ€™ on the wall and paint a painting, people donâ€™t just walk past, they stop and speak and also get something from me.â€�
Faces and brain muscles
Recently, Brofman did a wall in cooperation with an Iranian-American artist in the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth.
â€œI painted a wall 8 meters tall and 12 meters wide of 15 people from Iran â€“ children, women and men who were murdered in Iran, probably by the government. We did a very, very moving painting to express our support of peopleâ€™s freedom and womenâ€™s freedom.â€�
Brofmanâ€™s favorite style, he says, is portraits â€“ realist, black-and-white portraits with a colorful background or some accompanying texts.
â€œI really love faces,â€� he says. â€œI love the communication between the character and the person looking at it, and I love that people love it. Itâ€™s a lot of fun.â€�
The challenges he encounters, he says, have more to do with speedy creative thinking than with issues of legality.
â€œI donâ€™t do vandalism. I donâ€™t go out to paint at night â€“ at night I sleep,â€� he notes. â€œI donâ€™t have issues of is it legal, is it illegal, whether or not Iâ€™ll be caught and the like.
â€œBut when itâ€™s your career, itâ€™s not easy work. It requires a lot of patience and a lot of attention problems,â€� he jokes.
â€œLetâ€™s say Iâ€™m now working on a restaurant that does pizza, and my head is occupied with pizza, and Italy, and things like that, and a moment later Iâ€™m doing a birthday party for 40 eight-year-old kids and then the following day something completely different. It requires some very serious brain muscles.â€�
Someday, Brofman would love to paint a wall in the home of soccer star Leo Messi, whom he greatly admires.
Above all, heâ€™d like to inspire teens and â€œpeople who missed opportunities in life or gave up on them. Iâ€™d like to do important, interesting and influential projects.â€�