The moment you see a giant woman painted on a wall surrounded by nature, it might seem like you've jumped headfirst into a mythical world. But these are the works of Julia Silla, a.k.a. Julieta XLF. Her whimsical, larger-than-life figures make up the playful and vibrant world she creates on the streets.
"About 13 years ago, I started painting on the street and found the third dimension that was missing to me in the act of painting. Until that moment I used to focus my work more on dance, installation, and public art," Silla tells Creators. "Nowadays, this is what I do every day, and I feel so fortunate."
So far, she's created murals everywhere from Valencia, where she was born, to France, Italy, and Madrid. No matter the location, the subjects stay the same: whimsical figures, often entwined with nature, that seem larger than life.
They beckon the viewer to make up their own stories about them, although Silla often gives us hints. In a photo of a recent mural, Silla writes, "She's called Esperanza, dedicated to three special, strong women."
The piece shows a sleeping figure with wild tiger cubs surrounding her. She holds one in her arms; bright flowers and leaves surround her. Near her face, two doves sit close together and a small heart floats over them. There's a ferocity lurking underneath the cuteness, a hint that this mother-figure won't sleep for long.
Many of Silla's figures are asleep or appear with their eyes closed, as if they are part of a world totally different from the viewer's. But as mythical as they might seem, they are very real to Silla. "In my work, women are the heroines of their adventures and nature is my muse. Everything I find, I discover, it's already in Nature."
But they don't always stay around for long. The artist embraces the toll that weather and time take on her pieces—in fact, it's part of her process. No matter the city in which she creates a piece, she makes it knowing that it won't look the same the next day. As the days pass, it might even disappear completely. The magical women will fade just as quickly as the artist brought them to life.
"I love painting on the streets, because for me, street art is as ephemeral as time is, as we are," Silla tells Creators. "I like being aware of the impermanence of things, the passage of time, it helps me work on emotional detachment. I like to be be surprised by life and realizing that the city is alive, that the walls deteriorate and change."
Silla continues to create murals in different cities and is working on other projects to continue beautifying the streets. "I'm coordinating a couple of projects in which I'll take part as an artist: one with my crew, XLF from Valencia. We will paint a market in our city that was the first modern market built in Valencia outside the walls. And I'm curating a project with women street artists that we'll take part in, in a couple of months, closer to Valencia."
To learn more about Julieta XLF's work click here.