Unlike the slug-like alien creature in the fictional Star Wars saga, there is no relation between George Lucas’s creation and the works of the man before us, who “seeks to bring justice through galaxies and beyond.” Yeah, we’d better sit back and let him do his thing, for Jab, Jaba, Freaky Jab and his many aliases has set out on a mission that is demanding our attention.

“There are so many young and talented hardcore writers with very good styles. They deserve to be called writers. No ‘street artists’ please. ‘Street artist’ is just a fashion concept.”

Born into a household under the name Didier Enrico Mathieu Rodriguez, Jaba’s blood flows with an infusion of Columbian and Belgian zing. Jokingly, I had to ask of his early pioneering days if Bogota had ever fashioned the likes of his artistic precocities. I knew the answer before he was even able to reply; somehow I just couldn’t help my facetiousness. Through the silence I could sense a smirk, coming thousands of miles across the Atlantic from the country of Belgium, where the artist currently resides. “Actually I grew up in Cali. It is the third biggest city in Colombia well known as the world capital of salsa music and the world’s beautiful women on Earth.” Got your attention yet? Rightfully so, before making his graffiti debut in his mother’s native Belgium, Jaba recalls drawing inspiration from his Colombian surroundings. “Colombia was a great source of inspiration because the mural art was very popular and was my daily surrounding. The cities were very vibrant – colorful buses, houses, etc.,” he says. That and the most beautiful women on Earth, right?

In 1988, the 14-year-old Jaba made the move to Belgium where he would discover his passion for art and its many distinct forms. Upon reminiscence, Jaba’s discovery of graffiti can been widely accredited to the nation of hip-hop and its followers, specifically noting Public Enemy, Rakim, and the Ultramagnetic MCs as influential strongholds. He also acknowledges the hip-hop scene in France, its emcees, dancers, and writers, and one in particular by the name of Mode2. Others include Delta, Jonone, and Darco. “I was really impressed by the technical level of their art and at the same time the hardcore bombing from those crews,” says Jaba. It wasn’t until his findings of spray can and subway art and watching the infamous Wildstyle and Style Wars that Jaba truly fell in love with the graffiti game.


He got up and formed a crew in 1991 known as JNC, while continuously traveling and gaining exposure to different artists and crews. With the 90’s closing in, work to the emerging artist didn’t feel as natural and passionate as it had before. He says, “I didn’t feel like an accomplished artist. I still had so much more to learn. Maybe not so much in graffiti, but I felt that I didn’t have the same energy as I did once before to go out and respect the tradition.” While the art form may no longer be his raison d’être, there is no question that he remains loyal to what has now simply become a great source of pleasure. “I still love doing wild styles in quiet legal places but I’m not in the streets or yards anymore. So in a way I don’t feel like a true graffiti writer. There are so many young and talented hardcore writers with very good styles. They deserve to be called writers. No ‘street artists’ please. ‘Street artist’ is just a fashion concept.” Jaba is careful in his word selection here, in a coy attempt to negate all misconceptions about graffiti’s place in the art world.

Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be long before the 31-year-old’s creative genius would begin to resurface. For Jab, the year 2000 sparked an interest in the world of 3-D computer and digital graphics. Back at it again with the same passion he’d felt once before, Jaba is set on permanently rekindling the flame. With a computer, Photoshop, 3-Ds Max, and an intense sense of focus at his disposal, a mind that was once shaken with uncertainty now stirs with infinite possibility, albeit at his own speed. As the years have passed, from his travels and encounters, to his interests in the areas of art, science, nature, history, and magic, Freaky Jab sees the list of possibilities as an unending scroll. “My work is a melting pot of all those elements plus books and nice people I have met in my life. I feel like a sponge. I am influenced and inspired by everything around me. I can see beauty in any kind of art, culture, or music, even in the defaults of where it is supposed to be.”


In one particular line of Jaba’s work, conceptual illustration, he currently holds the title of digi-matte artist, concocting hyper-realistic backgrounds for independent screenplays. “I’m just in a big learning process. I still have much more to improve on, yet I want to essentially do concept design for good movies, share ideas and at the same time still develop personal projects in animation.” His desire to split his focus between illustration projects for movies and personal animation projects is telling; the re-emergence of his creative genius and passion is an undeniable certainty.

Ian Ponder

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