Chaz Bojórquez (b. 1949, Los Angeles, California, U.S.) believes that true self-expression comes from the soul. At an early age, in the 1950s, he experienced the graffiti tradition of the East Los Angeles Mexican-Americans. Los Angeles Cholo style graffiti was dictated by an honored code of writing, allegiance to that code of traditional writing brought you respect.
In 1968, out of high school with a liberal arts/mathematics diploma and one year of state college, Bojórquez enrolled into Chouinard Art School (known today as Cal Arts). He also studied Asian calligraphy from Master Yun Chung Chiang (Master Chiang studied under Pujie, brother of the last Emperor of China). From all of these experiences, in 1969 he combined the tradition and honor from Cholo gang graffiti and the educational knowledge from art school with the spirit and writing skills of Asian calligraphy. Bojórquez is one of the first graffiti writers from Los Angeles with his own style. After more than a decade of tagging in the streets in the 1970s and early 1980s, came a deeper need to understand: Why do we do graffiti?
In 1975, Italian photographer Gusmano Cesaretti interviewed Bojórquez for Street Writers, a transcribed audio tour of East Los Angeles graffiti in the early 1970s, a pioneer book of Chicano and graffiti culture. In 1979 he embarked on a round-the-world experience, visiting and living in 35 countries, studying how graphics and letters describe culture and national pride.
The graffiti art that Bojórquez paints today asks even deeper questions of himself. Does graffiti have intent, purpose, cultural identity, history and does it create unity? Who owns the public space and who has the right to speak and be heard? The answers to these universal questions are in all of us.
Chaz Bojórquez, artist portrait. Photo © Christina Bojórquez.