Jesus Torralba explores his indigenous origins in wildly colored murals
When Jesus Torralba wants to craft designs for a new mural, he heads to an underground painting wall in southeast Portland – an impressive full block, covered in colorful patterns (courtesy building owner) artists from all over the region.
“This space allowed me to grow artistically,” says Torralba. “For example, if I’m really stressed out about something and I’m going to run a commission, and I want to try something different, I can come here and try things that I haven’t tried.”
Torralba is one of Portland’s most prolific muralists. His distinctive work can be spotted on walls throughout the city. “Right now I’m focusing on my indigenous background where my parents are from – my father is from Oaxaca. And I try to appreciate the imagery, the culture, the sense of where my blood comes from. I try to bring a lot of my culture to life through my art, ”he says.
Torralba has been drawing since his childhood. His studio features stacks of journals and sketchbooks, filled with elaborate drawings of monsters and menacing creatures. “My art style started more with character work, of course,” he says. In his teens he started painting outdoors with friends. “We would just find little alleys or little bridges – wherever there was room for us to paint. “
During this time, he developed his signature, “Heysus,” an interpretation of his first name, Jesus. He played with the shapes and structures of letters, finding new ways to make himself known. “A lot of things for me when I was a kid were trying to create, for sure, but I also wanted people to see me,” he says. “They needed to know that I existed in a certain way, whether it was my real name or this character.”
Within a few years he received commissions to create murals in public spaces. The skills he had developed over years of drawing and painting began to pay off.
Lately, her days have been busy, painting murals all over the city and sharing her designs at her tattoo studio in Vancouver. And in his rare spare time, he’s back at the painting wall with friends, trying out a new design.
“I love it. I don’t think I’m ever going to stop doing it. I’ve met a lot of older people… and they always come here and paint. And that’s how I want to be when I get to be. older Just be a bit like a veteran on the wall.