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May Pulgarin: Murals, Masks & Chocho Power

Aka Tropidelia - creating her own matriarchal movement, one drawing at a time

Artist May Pulgarin is as talented as she is motivated. Driven by a desire to confront the limitations enforced upon women in society, her work naturally shouts out matriarchial messages with monstrous rebellion. Bold pink bodies, tongues and tits dance across May's walls, introducing us to characters alight with fearless femme power.

With limitless energy, May creates across multiple disciplines including street art, costumes, print design, and illustration. Having developed a style that is both bold and bright, firey and fun, we were thirsting to hear more about the inspiration behind May's work. In this interview, we learn about the counter-cultures which May is motivated by, particularly the Zapatistas uprising in Mexico. As well as her journey into becoming the self-made force of creativity we witness today.


Hello May, we love seeing the colourful world of your studio.

Can you describe your work to us in three words?

Transfeminist, Acid, and Transgressive (violating or challenging socially accepted standards of behavior, belief, morality, or taste). It’s also very Sassy! For me, the colours are very important and that’s what I call acid, a tropical psychedelic palette.

What helps you get into the creative flow?

The thing that helps me get into the process of creating is trying to go against the norm. I’m very inspired by the counter-culture, the transgressive movements. So I try to create in relation to them, to the corporal and racial dissonance, the movement of women and transfeminists, and the independence of countries like Columbia and South America in general.

I help my creative flow by doing whatever the fuck I want!

I have this desire of doing whatever I want with the body, from the body, the daring body! I see the way the body is diminished, so instead, I exaggerate the form, I make the body exuberant. It’s BODIES AGAINST POLICE.

Do you feel your upbringing in Columbia, and then moving to Madrid, has influenced the way you depict the body?

Yes, completely. My principal inspiration is Columbia because they are super sexist toward the female body. Latin girls are deemed exotic and so I take the way they sexualise us and transform it, I break the concept and create a new one - to do whatever I want. My body is my body.

Latin girls are deemed exotic and so I take the way they sexualize us and transform it, I break the concept and create a new one

Name your sources of inspiration?

The women in my family are especially important for my work. It’s a family of strong women but their strength is to take care of the family. From a young age, you are expected to become a mother. So I take this strength and I put it towards my creativity, to express my feelings through art.

You’ve also been involved in performances, what are those experiences like?

The first time I performed was with Venga Venga in Brazil. It was an amazing collaboration, I created the costumes and performed on stage with them, responding to their music. I love how it brings a hybrid of disciplines together and you create a whole concept that’s multilayered.

Can you tell us more about your masks?

My masks are inspired by the Zapatistas uprising in Mexico*. It was a deeply important revolution, with feminist ideologies, from Chiapas in Southern Mexico. In their protests, all the people wore the same mask. The philosophy behind it was that everyone became unified. There was a woman who was protesting for the feminist movement during that revolution and I saw this when I was a young girl. From then on, my interest was always drawn to revolutionary figures; they’ve shaped my way of thinking. I don’t respect authoritarian mindsets, I have an anarchist approach.

Instead of going to study at art school, I decided to go to the streets to learn

I’ve also taught myself everything. I was in school until I was 17 and then instead of going to study at art school, I decided to go to the street to learn. All the creations I show today are experiments that went well :)

One thing you want to change about your industry?

I don’t like or respect the hierarchy of the industry. It’s something I try to avoid by staying underground. I act to work against that power dynamic and I do that in every area of my life. But being out of the system makes it harder to live. You have less security.

Tell us about your future dreams and aspirations?

My dream is to make a living out of all this and to have a shop/studio in Barcelona which represents underground artists. One thing about Barcelona is all the famous artists are the same, there is no change. I want to collaborate with and support artists that people don’t know about so I can promote and exhibit them.

What does your Sassy side look like?

My body and my pen. Because I am undrawing the limits of the body, and make noise from the aesthetics, the voluptuousness of the form. My body is Sassy because it’s a monster!

Even though I am part of this movement, I am learning all the time. I wasn’t born or raised to push against the norm

The best thing about being you?

My bitches! But in all seriousness, I don’t know because I don’t believe the best exists. I have a lot of existential crises - I have made a lot of mistakes and I’m always thinking. So I think the best thing about being me is I’m always in deconstruction mode, trying to correct the mistakes I made years ago. I feel good for being able to recognise shitty attitudes that I can change.


Keep up to date with May Pulgarin's work via IG @tropidelia and get in touch with her for commissions and conversations.

Interview and portraits by Bethany Burgoyne @bxsassy2

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