The 19th Edition of Pioneering Street Art Festival NuArt Challenges Participants to Consider the Old and the New
For the 19th consecutive year, the quaint Norwegian town of Stavanger hosted another edition of the internationally known NuArt Festival. What started in 2001 as side programming at an electronic music festival has evolved into one of the most influential street art festivals worldwide. In addition to the production of public artworks, Nuart also includes a series of academic talks, debates, and movie premieres/screenings, all working towards greater definition and recognition of the street art movement. Its concurrent indoor exhibition also provides the artists an opportunity to create indoor works and installations without limitations or censoring, providing a unique blend of street art attitude showcased inside a gallery-like setting.
One of the works painted last week in Stavanger was the image of a girl taking a photo of a painting in a thick ornate frame. What seemed like an eye candy composition that creates a simple interaction of the character with an object on the wall is actually a harsh critique of the way the general public and the art world are dealing with the global refugee crisis. “On one side there is the passive position of the observer, on the other side, there is the position of the artist. Both acts as beholders of the critical situation,” the artist Jofre Oliveras (previously) stated about his poignant piece, titled Beholders. The artist further extended his critique of the art world with an indoor installation and live performance work presented in collaboration with the members of the 1UP CREW. As a way of protesting against the speculation of the art dealers based on the artist’s name, Oliveras painted a series of large works on canvas, which were then crossed over and destroyed by the notorious international graffiti crew.
Not far from this mural Argentine muralist Hyuro (previously) created her vision of the crisis and the way it is affecting the lives of individuals. Using hands as the universal symbol of individuality and closeness, Valencia-based artist depicted two hands interacting with a straight line between them. Symbolizing arbitrary manmade borders, the hands are both crossing over or being crossed over by the strict mark. Also talking about important social issues, Paul Harfleet introduced the concept of the ongoing Pansy Project, planting a single pansy flower on the location of homophobic abuse. Not being able to find the actual plants due to their seasonal nature, for the first time Harfleet painted these fragile flowers on multiple locations through the city and inside exhibition spaces.
Working around the festival’s theme “Brand new, you’re retro,” Julio Anaya Cabanding (previously) painted a series of smaller interventions which free a classic artwork by Norway’s Lars Hertervig in unexpected places. On the side of a staircase, at the end of a dark hallway, and finally, as part of the exhibition, his work is successfully merging the worlds of art history museums with street art.
This sensitive merging of two similar movements is an ongoing subject of the work by the Portuguese artist Nuno Viegas who painted a large mural showing a head masked with a shirt. Portraying the classic image of vandal graffiti writers with their makeshift disguise costume, the artist wanted to pay tribute to his graffiti past. “I see graffiti as the retro and street art the brand new,” the artist explained to Colossal. “But it is important that people realize the difference between both and don’t get them mixed up. Let’s respect graffiti and not try to appropriate it, let’s be proud of the “new” movement we are part of. We are writing history and it is important that we write it right and make sure we respect and do not distort what has been done before we got it to the game.”
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French painter Eric Roux-Fontaine (previously) creates dreamy scenes that meld wild, light-dappled environments with lavish interior elements like armchairs, chandeliers, canopy beds, and Gothic windows. In some works, animals wander through the painting, the sole subjects in the landscapes. The artist shares with Colossal that he considers his paintings “custodians of silence, initiating a poetic protocol.” Roux-Fontaine draws inspiration from his travel memories in places as far-flung as Central America and India. “Although these paintings reveal an absence,” the artist explains, “this is to enable visitors to slip through reality more effectively so that they too merge into places imbued with collective memories.”
Roux-Fontaine is represented by several galleries in the U.S. and France, including Boston’s M Fine Arts where his solo show opens in October, 2019; Waltman Ortega Fine Art in Miami, with whom he’ll be sharing work during the Miami Art Fair in December; and Hugo Galerie in New York, which will mount a solo show in May, 2020. See more of the artist’s recent paintings on his website and Instagram.
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Self-taught artist Magnhild Kennedy (previously), who works as ‘Damselfrau’, uses found and vintage materials to create elaborate masks. Mesh netting, sequined appliques, ribbons, beads, and pompoms come together in Kennedy’s wearable artworks, which she documents and shares on Instagram. Leaving space for her eyes, the artist otherwise completely obscures her face and poses against a blank background with patterned fabric draped around her shoulders. The artist declines to attach specific meaning or intention to each creation, instead leaving the interpretive experience up to the viewer.
In an interview with Yatzer, Kennedy explains that she grew up in an artistic household, and describes her start as a mask-maker as “a fluke”: in the 2000’s she began making masks as a fun thing to wear when going out to clubs with friends. Over the last decade, Kennedy has continued to explore the seemingly limitless possibilities of the mask as medium, and teaches herself new sewing skills to add to her repertoire of techniques. The artist explains to Yatzer that she draws inspiration from domestic environments: “I’m inspired by people’s homes and how they live with their objects around them. I often feel like I’m decorating a space, more than making a mask.”
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Australian artist Fintan Magee travels the world to paint large-scale murals depicting intimate, often tender, moments of focus and imagination. The artist uses his platform as a renowned muralist and studio artist to raise awareness around looming society issues like climate change and forced human migration.
Magee combines a realist style with more abstracted or fantastical elements: a child wearing swimming gear carries an iceberg in his backpack, and a grieving young man’s arms blur and pixelate into geometric patterns. The figures in each piece seem to be unaware of the viewer, gazing off into the distance or attentive to the task at hand. Though his characters are anonymous, everyday people, Magee gives a sense of specificity and personality to each subject, from nuanced facial expressions and gestures to detailed depictions of apparel.
Magee is based in Brisbane, Australia, where he grew up. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Giffith University. He most recently completed murals with Kirk Gallery’s Out in the Open event in Denmark and the Vancouver Mural Festival. See more of Magee’s latest work on Instagram and if you enjoy Magee’s socially conscious portraits, also check out Pat Perry. (via Booooooom)
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The husband and wife duo behind Drop-a-Pin have turned their love of architecture into an enamel pin business, transforming some of the world’s most recognizable buildings into miniature, 2-D renditions. The Drop-a-Pin duo explains that, thanks to their professional training as architects, most of the buildings they’ve turned into pins are ones they were familiar with. The pair spent the last five years traveling around the world to document buildings they love.
From Nakagin Capsule Tower in Toykyo to the Geisel Library in San Diego, each pin conveys the facade, silhouette, and color palette of the buildings that inspired them, while keeping a clean, minimalist look. “We developed a simple method we learned at the university in a course called Basic Design,” the team explains to Colossal. “The first and only law is to maintain the minimum number of lines necessary so that the building can still be identified. Once the lines in the design could no longer be erased, we reached the destination.”
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In a new photographic series artist Ayana V. Jackson explores the colonial gaze and historical portraiture traditions. Figures, all played by Jackson herself, appear in classical poses, draped in fishing nets, glittering flip-flops, and elegant Western gowns of years past. Each figure is inspired by African and African Disaporic water spirits including Olokun, Mame Coumba bang, Kianda, Drexciya, Yenanja and Mamiwata.
A statement from Mariane Ibrahim Gallery explains, “Jackson has used the archival impulse to assess the impact of the colonial gaze on the history of photography and its relationship to ideas about the body. She uses her lens to deconstruct 19th and early 20th century portraiture as a means for questioning photography’s role in constructing identities.”
The artist, who is based between New York, Hong Kong, and Johannesburg, also had a solo show this year at David Klein Gallery in Detroit. Her work has been collected by the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Detroit Institute of Art, Museum of African Contemporary Art Al-Maaden in Marrakesh, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. Jackson was the 2018 recipient of the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.
This body of work is on view from September 20 – October 26, 2019 in Jackson’s solo show, Take Me to the Water. The exhibition is at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, which recently relocated from Seattle to Chicago. See more of Jackson’s photography on her website and Instagram. (via Artsy)
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Hybrid Creatures with Oversized Eyes Reflect Imagined Landscapes in Surreal Paintings by Haoto Nattori
Japanese artist Naoto Hattori imagines small fluffy animals with healthy doses of fantasy and some unnatural hybridization. The painted creatures often feature round heads and disproportionately large and reflective eyes. Cat-birds with mushrooms growing on their furry heads and other mashup beasts toe the line between whimsical and eerie thanks to large eyes that reveal unseen forests and landscapes.
These acrylic paintings are small, typically measuring less than 3 inches by 3 inches when unframed. The artist’s style has been labeled as pop surrealist, but Hattori says it’s just what he sees in his mind. Hattori tells Colossal that he has been drawing eyes since he was three years old. “When I closed my eyes, I could see a colorful eye like a mandala and it kept changing shape like a kaleidoscope. I drew hundreds of the eye images. Back then, I was thinking that it was something everyone could see.”
Hattori continued painting eyes as he got older and earned a BFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts. The creatures in the paintings are avatars for the artist entering the world of his imagination.
I’m not particular about surrealism, but I like to draw an image which can’t be expressed in words, such as feelings, thoughts, and emotions in my mind. The eye feels like an entrance to the world of visionary memories. I often paint a piece which visualizes myself as a hybrid creature entering the visionary world. The images are twisted but it feels like meditation and calms me down.
Naoto was born in Japan, moved to New York to study art, and has shown in galleries around the world, including Beinart Gallery in Melbourne, Corey Helford in Los Angeles, and Modern Eden in San Francisco. Prints of many of his animals paintings are available to purchase directly from the artist’s online store. To look into the eyes of more of Naoto Hattori’s hybrid creatures, follow him on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Street Art
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