Georgian Culture and Ukrainian Pride Highlight the 2022 Tbilisi Mural Fest
For the last four years, Tbilisi Mural Fest has facilitated more than 40 public artworks around the Georgian capitol, and the 2022 event brought a spate of new projects to the city. Given the nation’s proximity to Russia and that country’s groundless war against Ukraine, festival organizers highlighted renowned Ukrainian muralist Sasha Korban who painted a large-scale portrait of a woman in customary clothing facing the Russian embassy. Other works include celebrations of Georgian culture and history, like a large-scale tablecloth with traditional motifs by Chertova Tina and Mohamed l’Ghacham’s dreamlike rendering of the living room of Georgian thinker and author Ilia Chavchavadze.
See some of the 2022 additions below and those from previous years on Instagram.
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A Melting Polar Bear and Surreal Wildlife Sculptures Burn in the Annual Falles Spectacle
After a COVID-related hiatus, the annual Falles festival in Valencia, Spain, returned this year with an extravagant celebration full of flames and sparks. The five-day pyrotechnic event draws thousands of people into the streets each March to witness fireworks, explosions, and a variety of sculptures burn to the ground, and at the heart of this year’s production was a 23-foot polar bear by artist Antonio Segura, aka Dulk (previously).
Following works by PichiAvo, Okuda San Miguel, and Escif in previous iterations, Dulk’s fantastical and surreal “Protect What You Love” featured wildlife and plants balanced on top of the cold-weather creature. Two years in the making, the monumental piece was constructed with cardboard and wood, and a team assembled the approximately 30 individual vignettes around the central figure once on site. Each of the works speaks to the urgent need to address the climate crisis, which Dulk explains:
We have the mother polar bear in the main square for falles, her fur melting like a candle as other animals take refuge on and around her. They are lost and they are all in search of a new habitat… The koala represents the wildfires of Australia in 2019/2020 where over 60,000 of the creatures lost their lives. The orangutan represents Borneo where their rapid decline as a species is a direct result from hunting, logging Palm oil, and developments in agroforestry. The fish turns to a can, to reflect the loss of marine life from overfishing.
“Protect What You Love,” which burned this last weekend, is a poetic reminder of how quickly loss can occur. “While this is just a metaphor it could become our reality unless we begin to change our behaviour,” Dulk tells Charlotte Pyatt in an interview with Juxtapoz. “I hope the event more than anything else, encourages awareness and action for these urgent concerns.”
The Spanish artist also has smaller works on view at Valencia’s Tuesday to Friday through April 21 and Centre del Carme through May 8 to coincide with the event. See more of his pieces and behind-the-scenes look at the spectacular festival on Instagram.
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Evoking Fire and Air, Intricate Paper Masks by Artist Patrick Cabral Honor Filipino Culture
Encircled by oversized crowns of paper, two new masks by Patrick Cabral celebrate Filipino culture through elaborately fashioned works defined by their colors. Titled Mananayaw ng Langit at Lupa, or Dancers of Heaven and Earth, the ongoing series was commissioned by the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art for the Dinagyang Festival. The cultural celebration is held annually the last week in January with the Ati Tribe competition, which involves warrior dancers performing to loud chants and drum beats, as the main event.
Preserving the tradition in paper, Cabral’s masks both mimic the performers’ costumes and draw on the detail and intricacy of his earlier animal figures. “Lupa” is brilliantly colored and embodies the passionate spirits of a dragon or crocodile, representing Earth, fire, and light. “Langit,” on the other hand, is more subdued with bird-like features, peacock feathers, and a quiet expression. It symbolizes air, flight, horizons, and dreams. “Both animals are important because birds are used in ancient sea navigation, which our ancestors are known for, and the crocodile is the biggest animal native to the Philippines…I want one to look calm and the other chaotic. One is a feather. One is fire,” the Manila-based artist says.
Cabral currently is working on an exhibit for the Philippine Pavillion at the World Expo that shares the “courage of our ancestors, the people who brave the angry ocean from Taiwan to the Batanes Islands.” Follow that project and explore a larger collection of the artist’s painstakingly constructed works on Behance and Instagram.
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This Too Shall Pass: How Spanish Artist Escif’s Meditating Woman Lit Up Valencia
The beginning of Escif’s Instagram post reads, “Yesterday the meditator’s body was burned. With it many things were burned. 4 tons of wood were burned. A year of intense and wonderful work was burned.” Attached to a darkened image of glowing flames, his words are simultaneously reflective, accepting, and hopeful.
The Spanish artist is referring to his large-scale project “This Too Shall Pass,” which was scheduled to be part of Valencia’s Las Fallas Festival. Each year, the outdoor celebration sees massive projects created by artists—like Okuda San Miguel in 2018 and PichiAvo in 2019—that are set on fire and eventually consumed by flames. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the 2020 event that would have featured Escif’s work was postponed. Despite its lack of spectators, though, the Spanish city decided to proceed with part of the traditional ceremony, lighting just the bottom half of Escif’s wooden sculpture on fire.
This is a familiar story. Creatives, businesses, and institutions around the world are struggling with the loss of revenue as exhibitions and shows have been pushed to a later date or canceled altogether. They’re also dealing with the more emotional impact of projects unrealized, something Escif has been sharing candidly.
This is not the end we expected. Neither are the circumstances. The magnitude of this figure can never be. Perhaps another woman, perhaps a part of it, perhaps only the memory, perhaps only her absence… The meditating woman tells us that everything is impermanent. Nothing is forever. We will overcome the emptiness of these failures.
Topping 20 meters tall, the artist’s wooden figure is dressed in a white button-up with dark pants. She sits in the lotus position with closed eyes and a straight back and represents quiet, thoughtfulness, and moments of peace. “From this woman’s ashes, live flowers will be born. And little insects will scatter its seeds. Seeds of conscience, of peace, of humanity. Seeds of light that help us face the new world that is being born these days,” Escif writes.
Although her bottom half has been burned, the figure’s head and shoulders will remain in Valencia Public Square until the crisis ends. To fit the current moment, the artist outfitted her with a surgical mask that covers her nose and mouth. “Meditating is the exercise of training our consciousness in the acceptance of impermanence,” the artist said. “Reality is changing and ephemeral. We are living in an uncertain moment that we do not know where it will take us. Let’s listen to what this meditating woman tells us. This too shall pass.”
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8th Annual Light Festival Illuminates Amsterdam with Glowing Sculptural Installations
This year’s Amsterdam Light Festival, running November 28, 2019, to January 19, 2020, lights up the European city with illuminated art installations. The festival, now in its eighth year, attracts tourists and engages locals at a time when the city is cloaked in darkness for about sixteen hours each day. Visitors to the Light Festival use a phone app to guide themselves through Amsterdam’s city center, perusing twenty light works by artists from around the world. This year’s show theme was “DISRUPT!” and artists reflected the concept in pieces that ruminate on climate change, national history, technology, and more. See some of our favorites here, by Masamichi Shimada, UxU Studio, Sergey Kim and others. You can explore the full line-up and programming on the Amsterdam Light Festival website.
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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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