A few weeks ago Laura Pott, Look Mallorca editor, had the honor to meet the talented painter René Alvarez Mäkelä in his studio in Palma de Mallorca where he told us about his passion for art, his beginnings and career as a painter, his famous clients and latest projects.
The 39-year old artist whose mother is Finnish and dad Spanish, works worldwide but lives in Palma, where you can also find his only studio in Santa Catalina. His latest projects have taken him to the United States and Malawi. Even though René has travelled to many different countries his favorite place is Mallorca. He loves the tranquility of the beautiful island he lives on and going on excursions or enjoying the beaches.
René has been painting all his life but decided to give up his former jobs in television and dedicate his life to the arts between 2011 and 2012. It was when the MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo shared René’s art pieces on his social media platforms that the painter’s career as an artist started. René feels fortunate to be able to now live his passion for art through his work.
The artist gets inspired by everything that surrounds him like people, music, books, movies, the pop culture and icons like The Beatles or Marlon Brando. René describes his paintings as a mix of pop art and urban street art with realistic figures. The fluorescent colors, the typical spots and the words in the background make his paintings so special und unique.
The artist mostly paints portraits of world-known icons such as Einstein, Brigitte Bardot or Pablo Picasso. His impressive portrait of the top model Cara Delevingne, that shows her typical model face and also her crazy side, brought René success and fame when the model shared a photo of herself with the art piece on her Instagram profile, triggering a flood of new followers on René’s profile.
The model’s friend found the painting on René’s Instagram and told her about it. Cara Delevingne loved his work so René sent her the painting and the model shared it. What a story! Instagram is in René’s opinion the social media platform that works best for him as an artist to show his work to the world and connect with fans and potential clients. He sells his paintings in galleries in New York and Los Angeles but mostly through personal contacts.
Painting the walls of a hospital in Malawi that was built by Madonna’s foundation Raising Malawi was surely one of René’s biggest projects. At the end of May the artist left Mallorca with two suitcases, one filled with clothes and the other one with paint and material. He spent two weeks in Malawi painting up to eleven hours a day to finish the two stunning murals whose models were children from Malawi. The artist said that Madonna controlled every step of the proccess which shows how dedicated she is to her charity work in Malawi. What he liked most about his trip was that everyone on the streets in Malawi was smiling and greeting and that the people there are so ingenious and more creative when it comes to finding solutions. After coming back from Malawi René now values simplicity and the wealth we have much more. His work for Raising Malawi wasn’t René’s first charity project, he has worked with several benefit organisations before, like Fundación Rana and Paisaje Limpio.
Even though the successful artist has painted for world-famous people like Madonna and the American football player Cameron Newton, he is a very down-to-earth and hardworking person. René is aware of his luck and knows that success may not last long. He has experienced so many incredible things during the last few years of his career as an artist that he is always curious about what comes next. René’s latest project was working with the Spanish brand Flamingo, creating colourful sunglasses.