“I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind,” Antoine de Saint-Exupery once famously declared. This maxim from the author of a tender, poetic and humanist tale about the Little Prince perfectly describes Okuda San Miguel’s panoramic mural he created in an abandoned Moroccan church. Titled “11 Mirages to Freedom,” it explores the meaning of being free in a playful yet stunning manner.
Okuda San Miguel is a pseudonym of Oscar San Miguel Erice, a Spanish artist famous for his signature-styled murals painted with vibrant triangles of various colors. He marries geometric patterns with organic shapes, pop art with surrealism, existentialism with capitalism. As the result, he materializes the blend of his ideas and influences into monumental frescoes, which are brilliantly interacting with various architectural elements of the urban environment.
In his Moroccan project, the artist shaped an extremely complex subject of freedom into a cheerful form. The façade of the church is adorned with a bear and a lion guarding the main gate. However, these two definitely do not look formidable. Their endearing eyes are lovingly inviting you to enter the church. Right above the gate, there’s a rainbow-winged bird. It looks like an emblem of faith, which brings joy and freedom instead of the slavery of religious dogmas.
The sides of the building are covered with poetic emblems of liberty of a different kind. The artist incorporates barred window frames into painted cages anthropomorphic animals and humans have on their head just like crowns. By doing this, he turns the signs of captivity into the symbols of escape with canaries or nightingales sitting at the top of each cage.
Okuda San Miguel’s highly saturated palette is drawing attention to smart, thought-provoking imagery. With this intervention, the Spaniard turns a building belonging to conservative Catholic Church, an institution, which not everyone associates with liberties, into a lively and cozy home of true faith. At least from the outside. Let’s hope that this neglected place will get a new life after such a buoyant renovation. It deserves to become something huge for the local community. At least something bigger than just a mural that got viral on the Internet.