Murfin: A Balance In Contrast

words and images by alejandra marin
02.01.2020

It is said that art is innate and that it runs in the veins; that was the case for Murfin. Manuel Delgado Díaz, also known as Murfin, is a promising urban artist in the making. At the ripe age of 25, the Spanish plastic artist and muralist, has impressed audiences in Europe and has taken upon himself to captivate the audiences here in Singapore.

With no big artistic figures at home, he was charmed into the world of painting and illustration at 9 but as any young boy his age, he had other interests. He divided his time between his first love, football, and his new love affair, arts. It was a tough task since his latent ability with the ball saw him represent the Andalusian province of Jaén, Spain whilst the allure of the urban world that resided in the shadows of his environment roped him at every corner, with street art lining the walls of his prominent hometown of Linares.

At this impressionable phase of his life, art wasn’t the only thing that he gravitated to. The urban world, the elusive nature of street culture; also cast a blanket of enticement over him. Hip-hop, skating and local graffiti only led him to a catalytic moment when he discovered more street art in magazines. And at that point, Murfin, as we know him, was born. Inspired by what he read and in a child-like mimicry, he picked up the can and started drawing on walls. With that very first stroke, he discovered his calling. A revelation that was so resonant that he abandoned the path of an athlete and walked on an entirely new path. A choice that he believes, has paid off.

The decision also seemed like an easy one as he says it was the only thing his body asked of him when he wasn’t busy in school. “It’s like when you fall in love with somebody. You don’t know exactly the reason, it’s just born within you”, is the only way he could put it into words.

Street art in Linares is nothing new. Once an important lead-mining city in the south of Spain, it has now turned into a hotbed of street art and graffiti. Pioneered by two Linarenses, Myrhwan and Belin, the residents of the humble town know good street art when they see it. Even when Murfin’s art was well-received, the locals spared no time in speaking their minds. He learnt that the best way to learn was by listening and working on criticism. He believes that although it can be uncomfortable to share and tough to hear, art itself would gain more if their audiences were painfully honest with all artists as it invites to reflect on distinctive points of view.

His talents grew with age. Utilizing new techniques, he started receiving his first commissioned murals at the age of 13 and followed that up with designing clothes for sale. In Spain, students needed to choose a branch of study to focus on when they turn 16. Murfin was set on the arts even though it leaned towards the classic style. Even though he was perfectly fine with furthering his craft through the streets, this switch-up was crucial in the development of his style.

“If you really want it, you will find the means to continue doing what you love”. Such aptitude to see the good beyond every difficulty was built up with the years. Growing up in a humble household, without a father, his Mom and he had to work extra hard. He moved to Madrid at 18 with little to no money to continue his education. Financial constraints meant that he had to work harder than most to afford the materials needed for practice. Fortunately, he had a fervent believer on his side that helped him overcome these issues.

Consistency and perseverance paid off cultivating not only experience but also a good work ethic. Never resting on his laurels and continually evolving his style, he finally found a balance between futuristic, striking backgrounds with classically drawn portraits whose details were accentuated by the contrasting features of his pieces.

However, it wasn’t until around 4 years ago, when he got the first big job that snowballed into a series of commissions and collaborations. Since then, he has collaborated with brands such as Nike and Pepe Jeans London. With the confidence he gained through his exploits, he continues trudging on with renewed motivation to constantly create and innovate. Loving every minute of doing what he loves for a living.

Murfin’s love for gastronomy and Asian cuisine, in general, led him to the discovery of Asian culture. He started connecting the dots, comparing the east and west. From simple colour palettes, intricate architecture, startling customs, and religions, it was a whole new world. He jumped at the opportunity to appear at Culture Cartel 2019. He said that his exhibition and reception in Singapore feels like a dream come true as a long-time admirer of this side of the world. Part of his inspiration for his upcoming line of paintings will be drawn from Singapore. Remarking that the futuristic shapes and advanced technology surrounding the city left a strong impression on him.

He described the country as an outrageous place with eccentric scenery and found the lack of realism exhilarating as it awakens his creativity. Especially the fact that when Singaporeans want something they don’t have naturally, they’ll build it. He hopes to build on the back of the momentum that saw him fly across the globe for a showcase and introduce his work to a Japanese audience soon.

Artists grow and change through experiences, they retell stories of being or a feeling that can’t be expressed with words and although Murfin doesn’t think his style would change radically. But his adventures will have a distinct influence on his work moving forward.