Santiago Spirito (the real name of urban artist Cabaio) began painting in the streets of Buenos Aires after the 2001 Argentine economic crisis. Acting as part of a collective known as “Vómito Attack,” he, together with his fellow artists, sought to influence the political debate by stenciling political messages and drawing people’s attention to issues such as consumerism and commercialization of public spaces.

Santiago (Cabaio) first got interested in stencil techniques through a coworker in a restaurant, and the issue of commercial messaging on the streets of his city was something that he had been concerned about for some time. He was horrified by the amount of information that was and still is, displayed in the streets; from billboards, numbers, shops, t-shirts, and much more, an absurd amount of information that, just through passive reading and being a little curious, somehow permeates your thoughts and attitudes. Along with his friends, he was interested in the idea of ​​creating urban interventions in these highly saturated spaces by offering other kinds of information, not just commercial slogans. That was the moment Vómito Attack emerged, (and yes, that means what you think it means), a name conceived to describe the saturation of information people are subjected to just by walking down the street. After several years of activism and interventions, Santiago parted ways with the collective in 2007 to work on his own solo project.

While his works as part of the collective were based on heated criticism and protest, his work as a freelance artist could be considered apolitical. Cabaio changed his focus in order to experiment with art, embellishing a chosen walls, privileging aesthetics over political messages. His murals often combine colorful wheat pastes, stencils, and hand-drawn details. The final effect emerges as an elaborate layered collage with combined images, creating beautiful kaleidoscopic murals.

Cabaio tries to match his creations to the street where he places them; mixing and matching colors and images, using the street as a supplier of materials essential for his work, such as spray paint can leftover from other works, objects that serve as frames, radiographs to use as templates.

More of Cabaio’s characteristic collages can be appreciated on his Instagram account here: