Written By Michael Ashman
With rainbow colors and a vibrantly spray-painted background, “Strictly Roots” by Monstrinho sets out to combine a gritty street art and graffiti medium with a cartoon-like and playful style of art. “Monstrinho” is Michael Amorillo’s artist name, which means “little monster” in Portuguese. Easily enough, his artwork is based around a few characters that look like cartoon monsters. Monstrinho’s works are very colorful and capture his personal experiences and emotions with elements of nature.
“Strictly Roots” focuses around a central bird-monster caught in a strange moment. The purple bird’s amoeba-like body squirms into an odd shape. While its pink and purple feathered wings wiggle like tiny tentacles. Its one giant green eye stares widely from the center of the painting. The really strange thing about this creature is the multitude of colors spewing from its beak. Multi-colored streams with bold outlines come out of the bird’s mouth like it just ate a bunch of crayons.
Monstrinho uses spray paint for the background and acrylic paint for the bird to make use of an appealing combination of two different art styles. The background has the look of a heavily spray- painted wall made with different neon pink and purple colors and grimy greens and blues. The mixture of colors comes together in a disorderly way that juxtaposes with the solid colors of the bird.
“Strictly Roots” gathers stylistic elements from both graffiti and street art. Graffiti art and street art are two different styles that compete for attention in the city. Monstrinho’s street art style reflects his life growing up in a graffiti-filled New York City. He has roots in graffiti, but now his artistic style is more directly influenced by it. Monstrinho’s creatures are always cartoonish and colorful and they create something that stands out from the plain walls of the city. The bird in “Strictly Roots” definitely sticks out from what looks like a heavily graffitied wall.
“Strictly Roots” is currently on display as a part of the “Kindred Spirits” group show at Thumbprint Gallery in La Jolla. The gallery is open to the public Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Saturdays and Sundays, from 12-4pm on 920 Kline Street, La Jolla. The “Kindred Spirits” show continues until April 7. You can also check on Monstrinho in his upcoming solo show at Thumbprint Gallery on May 11.