Behind the Wall: Miguel Gonzalez

ManlyMural_ByKayapa-6.jpg

words by tara wesson photography by @kayapacs

ManlyMural_ByKayapa-3.jpg

Miguel Gonzalez, or @mlon, as he’s known by his 14k Instagram followers, is a mural artist with a figurative yet conceptual style, who explores issues affecting society. COVERED. caught up with Miguel to talk inspiration and his art’s ability to permeate across urban spaces, beyond the walls he paints.

“Manly is many things,” Miguel says of his newest creation, a colourful and whimsical mural enveloping Manly Library. Just a Glimpse, as it’s called, features motifs that remind us of Manly. The deep blue and pink penguin, for example, is a nod to the penguins by the wharf; there’s sunrise and sunset in the colour palette, nightlife and sea life.

Together, it results in a captivating and bright work. It is typical of Miguel to work with the spaces he paints, rather than on them. His starting point is always an understanding of context: that is, the neighbourhood and story surrounding the building or wall, as well as any flora or fauna nearby. There’s a social side to it too for Miguel. For any piece, he will go to the location and spend a day or two simply observing the way people interact with the space.

ManlyMural_ByKayapa-2.jpg

“For me, it is activating hidden and dark laneways and creating a sense of security and belonging, bringing light to a space,” he says, explaining the sense of community that drives him to keep creating public work.

In each commissioned work, Miguel is navigating a three part relationship between himself, the client or brief, and the space, which is a living, changing thing with a mind, memory and life of its own.

So where does he find his inspiration? Everywhere. Even when given a very specific set of guidelines, he finds ways to have fun with it, whether it’s in something so small as the direction of a character’s gaze, or the story behind a seemingly simple piece.

Take, for example, his commissioned work for Colormaker Industries in Brookvale. At a glance the mural is a bright splash of colour palettes, but to the informed eye, it is a statement on diversity, bringing colour to the industrial network of offices that is Brookvale. The 48+ colours represent a celebration of skills, hard work, creativity, multicultural backgrounds and diversity within the biggest creative hub on the beaches.

Miguel also comes from a mix of professional backgrounds, having studied architecture which now plays a part in everything he does. His inspiration for the Manly Library mural came from the unusual form of the building itself. By adapting to its features, the art wraps around the curves and contours of the building with a design reminiscent of a comic strip. Each section tells a story, taking you back to a memory or enlightening newcomers on what Manly is all about. The circular windows of the tower, for example, give off a submarine-esque vibe as fish swim up and down its length, harking back to the days of the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. •

Follow Miguel on Instagram at @mlon. Miguel Gonzalez is in Australian artist and illustrator originally from Caracas, Venezuela. He works on private, corporate and institutional projects, creating indoor and outdoor works. Miguel is also the co-founder and director of La Crème Creative Inc. and Kayapa Creative Studio.