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Spanish artist Francisco de Pájaro doesn’t see rubbish as an urban blight — for him, it’s a canvas. De Pájaro transforms old cardboard, garbage bags, discarded furniture, and other refuse into weird human forms and fantastical creatures. It’s probably the most beautiful trash you’ll ever see.

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De Pájaro is currently exhibiting in London, both inside a gallery and out on the streets. Most of his earlier work is more hurried and slapdash than the curated London pieces, because he had to work fast enough to avoid the cops. But he originally moved into doing trash art specifically to get around street art laws:

Rubbish is the only legal place you can make art on the street. There was a law in 2006 in Barcelona which outlawed painting on the street, suddenly all of the freedom was eliminated – all the best artists from Barcelona left. I couldn’t paint on the floor, on the walls, anywhere, but I had a need to express myself, so where? Three undercover police officers came when they saw me painting on an electricity box, so I started on rubbish, on a chair, on a mattress, little by little, I made little discoveries. First of all I just painted on cans, objects, and then I thought I can put an arm, as a way of getting round not being able to paint on the walls on the floor, I started painting on rubbish. You’ve got to improvise.  The police in Spain they are much stricter, they don’t let you do anything, here [in London]  the police are different, they are more tolerant, here they see it and they say: “Hey okay, it’s rubbish, it’s intelligent.”

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De Pájaro sees his work as commenting on human monstrousness:

 It’s sort of like a portrayal of the monstrous side of humanity in some ways, it’s what hurts me and what affects me. I’m thinking of all the bad aspects of human beings. The bad parts of people I transmit through my art. I do it for a reason I can’t explain.

Certainly if you’re going to portray people as monsters, it makes sense to do it using all the stuff we waste and throw away.