Meet the Godfather of Peruvian Graphic Art
Ceviche Old St in London is the award-winning restaurant, bar and contemporary art gallery showcasing only Peruvian art. Our current exhibition present Peru’s top graphic artist Cherman, and coincides with the celebrations of the world cup and Peruvian Independence Day on July 28th, and continues until October.
German Quino, best known as Cherman is one of the most important and controversial graphic artists in the Peruvian art scene. Get to know more about the Godfather of Peruvian graphic art in our exclusive interview with Cherman:
1. When did you create ‘ Chermany' and what does it mean?
- When I was a young kid and I liked something, I used to look at it with so much detail. Many of the things I liked said 'Made in Germany'. My original name is German so I found it funny too. In the 80's my father traveled to Europe and he brought me an Adidas Beckenbauer shorts. I remember the packaging, the quality, everything, as well as some incredible stickers books. Later during my artistic life I became Cherman and then was born Chermany, my own country where everything is amazing as a child.
2. Your graphic art usually includes messages on morals, social values, sometimes political criticism. What do you think is your mission as a graphic artist ?
- More than a mission, I believe that art is the natural development of each individual. Like many other graphic artists, I started from a very young age with comics in the 70’s. I was lucky that at that time there were comics everywhere. When I was 10/11 years old I discovered Paco Yunke’s comic by Juan Acevedo. I was used to reading Batman, Superman and everything that came from abroad, but this story had a big effect on me, as it was the first time I read a story with social content. I also read other Peruvian comics which had references to daily political and social issues. The combination of these with trying to rescue heroes and idols that were forgotten in my country made me want to raise awareness on these subjects. It is incredible that some of our most famous characters are best know abroad that in my own country.
3. Why do you think the public in London likes your graphic aesthetics?
- I do not know, haha! It's amazing but I think that pure graphics is universal and can be appreciated in countries where there is more knowledge on the subject. Foreigners find surprising the quality we have in art, music, culture in general. Art itself is universal and this is why I believe that my art can travel anywhere, especially where there are people who are art or graphic art consumers.
4. We know that you have your music band, do you consider yourself more a musician or a graphic artist?
- Ha ... I can not consider myself as a musician because I still have not learned the notes by memory! Music has been my salvation and complement of life. There was a time I did not have TV for almost 10 years, I had a guitar that did not tune well but I got into music with a lot of enthusiasm. As in anything that you are passionate about, you can only achieve it by practicing and in that, I have been very methodic. Since I had my first band in 98 I have not stopped playing. Since 2000 I spent almost 3 years doing incidental music for performances, especially with the band Integro. I have been in several bands, Los Imposibles, Carreño QEPD, Sayonara, La Patrulla del Alma and now Zanahorias Rayadas. Finally I believe that passionate art brings daily learning.
5. Your art goes beyond illustration. Which are the activities you are currently doing in parallel to the graphic art?
- I think that in one day I can do hundreds of activities, the first has to do with my personal Chermany store that has cost me my life. After that, there is no shortage of personal projects that are being posponed by having to do work projects. In December we distributed graphic art to 19 shopping centres throughout Peru. I am developing a fashion project with Marina Testino for my Faite clothing brand. Advising people, giving talks, doing workshops, poster design. Now I am participating in an Urban Art event which I have to give a workshop and make a mural based on studies of the Ichma culture, this show in London, group shows, activations where I give away posters, commissions, when I can I do workshops with children. In fact... I need holidays !!
6. What do you think of Peruvian culinary art? Is it a subject that you are interested in promoting ?
- I come from a purely Creole family. My mother raised me giving me the richest pulp of what is the beginning of the gastronomic boom which initially lies in Creole food and then has spread without borders. My series of cans Tiger Milk, Warhol style, encouraged many to develop art and gastronomy. Although I have many projects to work on, I realise such ideas need the support of field work and research for which I hope someday to be able to achieve. For the moment I hope to learn from a friend about energy food and from some chefs who are doing miracles rescuing products which I find remarkable. Recently La Agraria University in Lima wanted to send more than 100 chilli peppers, many of which are in danger of extinction or are not consumed. There are so many things to do . It is very disappointing that there are many successful restaurants that do not invest anything in art and culture.
7. What did you feel when creating the graphic of the Peruvian football team recently classified for the World Cup?
- My first dream in life was to be a football player. At some point I could say that I have been as good as any of the great ones, of course this was on my 20’s. I even traveled to the USA to play. For a long time football was one of my most intense passions, without leaving drawing aside. In 2012/13 I had the bad luck to make the T-shirt for the Peruvian team, painfully and once again we did not go to the World Cup and that day Juan Acevedo, a famous cartoonist, was going to interview me. I felt so bad that I could not get out of my home. In this last qualifications, everything has been a miracle; for the match with Argentina I drew almost the entire team of 69. Every day I learned something new that had happened. After that, the tension had been so much and that's why I also drew up the current players as a kind of catharsis.
8. What do you love about Peru that you would like to share with people who live in London?
- Everything. When I leave my country, I try to share everything I can. I do the same when I travel inside Peru or within my own city Lima. Additional to what I usually have to show, I like to be part of the reality where I go. To be able to do my activations which consist on designing, printing and giving my posters as gifts, doing live drawing or workshops with children and whoever wants to draw.