Mexican street artist Pablo Delgado has hidden 33 replicas of his ‘missing lady’ print around east London and is asking the public to find them.
Delgado sporadically pasted prints of the missing ladies as part of his current project and began putting up Missing Persons posters a few weeks ago in places including Shoreditch.
He is offering a reward for those who discover the whereabouts of all 33 pieces.
Delgado said: “The clues are still very uncertain, but more elements will be put into place to [help it] become a quest.”
He will also release a map on his website to aid the search.
Explaining that street art is often impermanent, Delgado said: “They last what they last. They have to be just moments that linger or vanish, depending on people’s selfishness.
“It is about letting things go and not owning them. That is implicit when you leave things on the streets.”
Known for his miniature paste-ups on the streets, Delgado often features prostitutes in his artwork.
He said: “We are all prostitutes in a way and it’s a beautiful street symbol. East London has had prostitutes through time, leaning against the walls.
“The “missing” word provokes anxiety and suggests empathy. The purpose is not just to cause anxiety, but to feel the silliness of the matter and to play a game.”
Delgado does not define himself simply as a street artist. He works in several mediums including short films, acrylic paintings, and graphic design. In recent years, he has moved on to the plastic arts and installations.
Delgado arrived in London three years ago and people began to take notice of his work last year when tiny doors started to appear at the bottoms of walls around Spitalfields and Shoreditch. He had his first solo show in the UK last month at the Pure Evil Gallery in Hoxton.
Owner of the Pure Evil Gallery Charlie Uzzell-Edwards said: “I think he’s probably lost a lot of little people that he’s put up in the street. They have started vanishing.
“It’s happened with Banksy, it’s happening with Ben Eines, and it’s happening now with Pablo Delgado. People are just going out and picking stuff up.
“I think there are people who are going out harvesting street art. We had a call from someone who has found a piece from some artist and he wants to sell it to Sotheby’s. It happens a lot.”
Speaking about London’s main contemporary art galleries, Uzzell-Edwards said: “They have got their ivory contemporary art castle and we’re trying to scale the walls and they’re just pouring hot oil on us saying: ‘Get away you scruffy urchins.’ Which is cool because this is our thing and that is their thing.
“The funniest thing is when you’re actually selling someone a brick for 250 quid. I like the conflict and the irony of bubble wrapping a brick for someone so they can take it home and enjoy it.”
Uzzell-Edwards discovered Delgado’s work over a year ago and quickly became a fan, so he decided to exhibit his pieces in the gallery.
He said: “What I liked about his work was the humour. He’s always had a few little prostitutes down in my basement.
“He’s definitely made an impact by doing these pieces and getting them up on the street. He’s got a glittering path ahead of him with little men and women walking all over it.”