Painter, social activist, motivational speaker Enrique Chiu on the impact of art.
Painter, social activist, motivational speaker… Enrique Chiu (Guadalajara, 1981) is perhaps best known for being the author of the world-famous Brotherhood Mural, a colorful pictorial work, still in process, that pleases the eye of those who drive or walk by the border fence between the Californias. But everybody seems to be talking lately about the artist from Jalisco, who was adopted by the city of Tijuana.
Not only his pièce de résistance, the Brotherhood Mural is on its way to set the record as the largest mural in the world, but Enrique was recently recognized by JCI (Junior Chamber International) as one of the TOYP – Ten Outstanding Young People of the world in 2019.
In addition to that, he gave a talk for TEDx Tijuana, in which he talked about art as an expression of being. And he also recently signed a collaboration agreement between the Municipal Institute of Women of Tijuana, Baja California, through “Enrique Chiu International Foundation for a Child with Future” with the aim of promoting a life free of violence and a comprehensive development of girls, boys, and adolescents through art workshops and talks.
As if that were not enough, he and his work were the subject of two documentaries; “A world without walls”, by Mexican Alejandro Argüelles and “This Side has Dreams too”, by American Spencer Rabin.
From Mexico to the world
The Guadalajara-born artist knew at a young age that he wanted to be an artist. In his own words: “I knew I wanted to be an artist when I was seven years old. I loved watching the cultural channel in Guadalajara and at that time, something very important was to see the artists traveling to dance or perform to Russia.
A ballet dancer from Jalisco could travel to Russia, appear on TV and they were considered artists, so I always wanted to know what it was to be an artist, appear on television, travel and expose what one liked.”
And for sure his relationship with art has made him fulfill his childhood dream of traveling, both to develop his professional training and to showcase his work. After living 14 years in the United States, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, Design and Audiovisual Arts from Long Beach and Santa Ana Universities in California, the artist settled down in Tijuana, Baja California.Chiu, who finds inspiration “in his moments of happiness”, as well as in his interaction with the people he admires, has seen his work showcased in various spaces around the world, among them: Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA; EMMA Gallery, Madrid, Spain; Government Palace of Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico; Panama City Museum;
Palace of Culture Tijuana, B.C. Mexico; Rafael Solana Cultural Center, Mexico City, Mexico; Norma Vilar Gallery, Sao Paulo, Brazil; San Angel Cultural Center, Mexico State, Mexico; Legislative Palace, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico; Delegated House of Narino, Bogotá, Colombia; Geraldes Da Silva Gallery, Porto, Portugal; Puerta de Angel Gallery, Barcelona, Spain; Kaunas Castle, Lithuania; Populonia Castle, Tuscany, Italy; Factory Art Gallery, London, United Kingdom; Embassy of Mexico, Paris, France.
For Enrique Chiu, art has been his means of expression and a call to social awareness. For this purpose, he wouldn’t find a better canvas than the fence that divides the United States of America from his neighboring country, Mexico.
On the side of those who dream
For a long time, the idea of making the border fence that divides the United States and Mexico into the largest mural in the world crossed Enrique Chiu’s mind. His name could then be alongside the great Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco. The mural would be a symbol of peace and brotherhood among people. He then wrote to the governments of both countries asking for permission, and although he’s still awaiting a response from the White House, the Mexican government granted its permission so, in November 2016, along with a group of volunteers, Enrique began the work that, three years later continues to gain space in the international press and attract the attention of personalities from the arts, including two young filmmakers, Mexican Alejandro Argüelles and American Spencer Rabin, who made Chiu the central subject of their documentaries “A World Without Walls ”and“ This Side has Dreams too.” Both highlight the artist’s interaction with other collaborating artists, as well as civil society organizations and social activists, both local and international, and also with migrant groups that frequently arrive in Tijuana, considered the most active border in the world. Both documentaries have been successfully exhibited at various festivals in both Mexico and the United States.
The world seems to be at the brilliant artist’s feet. In 2019, he was honored by the Junior Chamber International organization as one of the TOYP – Ten Young Outstanding People in the world, an honor given annually to 10 young people under 40 years that stand out in various fields of society. Enrique traveled to the city of Tallinn, Estonia, to receive the award for his contribution to culture. On this occasion, not only he made his home country, Mexico proud, but he was the only recipient from the Americas. This artist has plenty of talent and merits to be considered a superstar of the arts. However, he keeps his feet on the ground and if something really stands out about him is his kindness, his warmth and his social awareness. So, instead of feeling conceited about this recognition, Chiu uses it as a platform to inspire other young people.
Nothing seems to stop him. “Every day we work with the community. Art is a form of communication, to be able to teach the world, everything that can enhance society in a positive way. I try to link art to society, not as a luxury, but as a matter of cultural need, of what we experience every day regarding our education and our traditions. Well, everything we live and what we really are, because that’s what culture is about. And that’s what I try to promote, and I also try to inspire young people not to give up on their dreams.”
Either from his Brotherhood Mural, or through his Civil Association “Enrique Chiu International Foundation for a Childhood with Future”, which helps to stimulate the creative abilities of children and teenagers, Enrique Chiu keeps on dreaming.
In his own words he concludes: “I dream of many things. I have always dreamed big and tried to do the things I wanted. I enjoy every moment, but I try to keep my feet on the ground and at the same time, I try to create a proper impact on society through art. I think this artistic endeavor was conceived for that, to make people get involved, feel and be moved. So for me it’s very important to go on with this dream, to do what we like and fight for what we want. I want to promote a change in the world through art. I have always said that art will change the world someday. Thanks for the support. It also helps artists a lot