A concrete apartment building in Solnechnodolsk, Russia, seems to have added balconies, windows, and a few extra rooms in a trippy new mural by artist Danila Shmelev, aka Shozy. Created for the Urban Morpho Genesis festival, the massive optical illusion appears as a three-dimensional construction that juts out from the complex, despite lying flat on the corner walls. The Moscow-born artist says:
In Russia, we are all accustomed to the architecture of panel houses. Our eyes are so blurred that aesthetics are out of the question. With my work, I want to focus the viewer’s attention on a familiar landscape and show it from an unusual side, complementing the real ends of two five-story buildings with illusory geometry, so that they draw the eye of the viewer to the ordinary landscape, encouraging them to really consider it.
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Every inch of Nespoon’s elaborately designed murals is rooted in local history. Prior to sketching one of her large-scale lace patterns on a residential building or commercial facade, the Warsaw-based artist (previously) visits museums and meets with residents to learn more about the region’s culture and its ties to fiber arts. “I respect and commemorate the emotional bound between individual patterns and particular cities or even particular groups of lacemakers. If there is no tradition of lace making in the area where I work, I ask for laces in the homes of elderly people living nearby,” she tells Colossal. “I always find something.”
The resulting murals envelop concrete and brick structures in intricate webbing embellished with oversized florals or fringed edges. Often splaying across multiple levels and wrapping around corners, the massive works showcase the intricacies of the craft and bring the adornment traditionally associated with domestic life out into a public space.
Because women produced almost all of the decorative textiles for centuries, their stories remain at the forefront of Nespoon’s body of work, which ranges from stenciled graffiti pieces to smaller ceramic installations imprinted with patterns. Still today, lace museums and makers tend to be women, the artist says, veiling each of her site-specific projects within a broader, global context of feminine art, craft, and tradition.
While many of her projects are celebratory and honor the local customs that manifest in the lace pieces, others, like humble motif painted in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, necessarily confront a community’s struggles. “For the first time in my life, my wall had such clear traces of war, dozens of bullet holes all over the facade,” Nespoon writes, explaining further:
While working, I thought about the fate of women who are victims of wars all over the world. Here, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, it had an extraordinary dimension. Institutionalized sexual violence and mass rape were a cruel instrument of terror used in this conflict, in front of the whole world. I wanted to not think about it, but I did. The bullet holes became part of my mural.
Next week, Nespoon will be installing a lace web at the Triennale di Maroggia in Switzerland. She’s also preparing for a solo exhibition next May in Brescia, Italy, and working on a book compiling her works from the last 12 years, many of which you can find on Behance and Instagram.
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A single Joe Pye weed with barbed leaves and a blossoming head looms over Jersey City in a staggering new mural by Mona Caron. Set against a black backdrop, the hardy botanical—which is actually a wildflower from the eutrochium genus that’s native to the region—is the latest from the San Francisco-based artist, who’s known for her multi-story murals of plants and weeds that soar above city skylines. Commissioned as part of the Jersey City Mural Arts Program, the exquisitely rendered flower is a celebration of resilience as it “rises with the sun, facing off the skyline across the Hudson,” Caron writes on Instagram. “A vision of nature winning, of plants being the ones towering over us for a change, putting us back in our place. May we learn. May they come back.”
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Fio Silva tucks clusters of oversized birds and botanicals into otherwise stark urban spaces, creating striking murals awash in puffs of feathers, petals, and leaves. The Buenos Aires-based artist focuses largely on movement, a thread that runs through both the vivid renderings of winged subjects as they appear to take flight or perch for just a moment. “It was that lack of stillness through work and searching for walls to paint that I found meaning in my time,” Silva tells Colossal.
When working in color, the artist starts with blues, yellows, and reds before expanding the palette based on the “moods and to intensify, in some way, what I want to convey, if it is something rather clear, bright, or something… more subdued or desolate,” Silva says. “When I paint, I try to convey a certain force, that by seeing it or sharing it I can move someone, in whatever way.”
Silva plans to complete a few murals in Argentina during the next few months and will travel to Europe during the summer, with an exhibition of smaller paintings slated for October in Paris. Keep up with the artist’s monumental public works on Instagram.
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A Short Film Chronicles Mural Fest Kosovo, Void Projects’ Initiative to Infuse a War-Torn City with Public Art
“At that time it wasn’t easy for me to be in the public with my camera because the country was very sensitive to reporters like me,” photojournalist Hazir Reka tells a group of muralists. “Being in the public with a camera was no different to being in public with a weapon because of how much it could affect reality.” Reka’s referring to a tumultuous time in Kosovo’s history when the region was in the midst of war, an experience he shares with the artists who traveled to the region in September 2020 for Mural Fest Kosovo.
Organized by the art collective Void Projects (previously), which is helmed by Axel Void, the initiative sought to revitalize the public spaces within Ferizaj, a small city desolated by war. Fifteen international muralists—the list includesAruallan, Emilio Cerezo, Doa Oa, Alba Fabre, Maria Jose Gallardo, and Zane Prater—gathered for the project that U.K.-based filmmaker Doug Gillen documents in a new short film.
Throughout “Change,” Gillen follows ten of the artists as they immerse themselves in local life and engage with the city’s youngest residents through workshops and school initiatives that directly involved the children and teens in the creative process. Their resulting artworks are a reflection of these interactions and large-scale depictions of the area’s ecology, citizens, and cultural milieu. While each is distinct in aesthetic—Aruallan and Void produced a photorealistic rendering of an 11-year-old boy they met on the street, while Fabre’s ethereal mural depicts an unknown woman lying in the water in traditional clothing, for example—they’re all infused with themes surrounding the city’s unique environment and more universal understandings of shared humanity.
“The greater this connection, the more effective the work. Exploring the human stories of Ferizaj in this way, at this very unique moment in time, felt like an important opportunity to document meaningfully,” Gillen said.
Watch the full film above to dive further into Kosovo’s history, and see all of the murals and glimpses into the artists’ experiences collaborating with Ferizaj residents on Void Projects’ Instagram.
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In what could be interpreted as a tongue-in-cheek warning about not wearing a mask during the times of COVID-19, residents of Totterdown, Bristol, awoke to a new mural by the elusive artist Banksy. The work depicts an older pensioner sneezing her dentures out while subsequently knocking down an entire row of houses—a staged photo shared by the artist includes a tumbling man being knocked asunder by the germy gust. A wide shot reveals the location as Vale Street, noted for being the steepest street in Britain at a 22-degree incline. The new piece comes a few months after another site-specific work in Nottingham featuring a girl using a disassembled bicycle wheel as a hula hoop.
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