French duo Paul Ressencourt and Simon Roche, or Murmure, highlight the nefarious nature of a commonplace object in their latest project that explores the human impact on the environment. The monochromatic pieces illustrate the ubiquity of the black trash bag as it composes a whale, masks the heads of an embracing couple, and floats in a large group through the air like a flock of birds. Each bag shines in the light, accentuating its plastic materiality.
Murmure told Juxtapoz that the black-and-white pieces are designed to be straightforward, a strategy that emphasizes the single red tie meant to signify a narrative thread. “The main idea was to play with the colors of a regular black garbage bag as much as possible. Not only for dramatic appeal, but also for the depth of shades and, somehow, the elegance of its texture and reaction to light. That’s why we use graphite pencil, to achieve this texture,” the pair said.
Ranging from drawings on paper to larger murals, the works are part of a broader project called Garb-age, a nod to the idea of a new era, that directly speaks to the growing climate crisis. The duo says the purpose is to show the power street art specifically has to impact the ways people think. “To us, Garb-age is a meaningful project that allows us to raise awareness of important environmental issues,” they said. Each piece is “a powerful image reflecting the choices everyone faces daily, between our knowledge of the issues at stake and what we can do about them but don’t. We would love it if visitors could pass this first impression and understand there’s hope behind every picture created.”
Murmure had an exhibition scheduled at Galerie LJ in Paris this month, although it has closed due to worries about the spread of coronavirus. However, the gallery has shot a virtual tour that’s available on Instagram, where you can also find more of the duo’s climate-aware pieces.
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Part of a solo exhibition titled Gimme Something/To Eat at Anomaly in Tokyo, a multi-level project by Japanese painter Yusuke Asai considers the structure of ecosystems and the relationship between humans, animals, and nature. In his mythical installation “The earth is falling from the sky,” a central figure with outstretched arms smiles down from the ceiling. Intertwined scenes of flora and fauna encircle the entirety of the dome-shaped room, with deer, rodents, and snakes scattered throughout the untamed installation. The artist previously shared this project in the Moss Museum at the Wulong Lanba Art Festival in China.
Asai is known for using simple materials like soil, water, dust, flour, tape, pens, and even animal blood gathered from local regions to create his sprawling projects, requiring viewers to interact directly with their surrounding environments. In his mud paintings, the artist literally binds themes of nature with physical elements of the earth.
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Hawaii-born artist Sean Yoro (previously), aka Hula, pairs his illustrative murals of partial figures with bold brushstrokes that hover along building walls. Part of his Undertones series, the monochromatic pieces often feature singular hands and torsos as they reach toward or attempt to grasp the impasto-style strokes.
One especially illusory piece forgoes the bodily element and instead focuses on a singular blue stroke that seems to float through the air and cast a shadow on the brick wall behind it. “Each large scale brushstroke represents the unique passions we all hold within and what we can do with that energy once we tap into it,” said a statement on the artist’s site.
Yoro is one half of Kapu Collective, a collaborative art-and-design group concerned with environmental issues and sustainability, that he formed with his twin brother. Smaller versions of Yoro’s works are available in the collective’s shop. If you want to see the process behind some of his stylized projects, head to Instagram.
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French artist JR (previously) is back in New York, transforming pockets of the city with his latest work. Installed on stacked shipping containers, “The Chronicles of New York City” is a compilation of images depicting more than 1,000 New York residents, who the artist photographed and reproduced for the large-scale work. Created in Williamsburg’s Domino Park, the black-and-white mural is JR’s biggest public project to date in the city. It overlooks the East River and features people living in all five boroughs gathered in a public space that mimics the newly built park.
Since opening his exhibition “JR: Chronicles” in October of 2019, the artist has been transforming areas throughout the city, like a space at the Kings Theatre in Flatbush and the Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance in Bedford Stuyvesant. “The Chronicles of New York City” is the centerpiece of the exhibition, which is on view through May 3, 2020, at Brooklyn Museum, and is accompanied by audio recordings of those portrayed in the monochromatic mural. The public installation was a collaboration with architectural firm LOT-EK, which is known for its sustainable design and helped in creating the site.
“Working at the intersections of photography, social engagement, and street art, JR collaborates with communities by taking individual portraits, reproducing them at a monumental scale, and wheat pasting them—sometimes illegally—in nearby public spaces,” says a statement about the exhibition. See where JR’s work pops up next by following him on Instagram and peek in his shop to check out what’s available for purchase.
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Paola Delfín’s monochromatic murals found in Cancun, St. Petersburg, and cities worldwide all share a message of unity and community. The Mexico-based artist often creates impeccably detailed and stylized profile views, which show her subjects looking down or into the distance, joined by plants, grasses, and flowers of the local environment.
Her lifelike works center on ideas of women’s strength and their ability to build community, in addition to the ways families are bound together and remember their ancestors—although Delfín tells Colossal she has a more personal connection to the Cancun mural, which depicts a couple staring forward as they cradle a small boat.
My family, uncle and aunt, are part of (the) pioneers. They moved to this city almost 40 years ago and watched it grow. They started a school. My uncle worked on a ship for many years. Now the younger generations are trying to bring more culture since this city transformed into a tourist paradise, and sometimes we forget this was the place where centuries ago the great Mayan culture (rose).
The artist finds murals challenging because of her desire to “leave something meaningful” for those who pass by her work. Before she begins creating in any location, she studies the history and culture of the neighborhood she’s working in and talks to its residents to learn their stories. For “Familia/Suku,” the artist spoke with Tampere residents to understand how immigrants and natives across generations form a community in the Finnish city. In the horizontal piece, Suham, an Iranian expat, leans toward elderly Maya, who has lived in the country for 50 years, while Suham’s daughter Sofia stands in front of them.
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For Cinta Vidal, everything depends on how you look at it. The Barcelona-based artist is known for her gravity-defying projects that manipulate architecture and household objects to create inverted environments dissimilar to daily life. Like her smaller-scale inverted works, Vidal’s murals are concerned with human subjectivity and feature both peculiarly arranged architecture and objects like books, chairs, and even a canoe floating through the air. They cover walls throughout Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Barcelona, among other cities around the world.
Whether it be a young girl seated on an oversized globe or a man peering over a balcony that’s tipped at a 90 degree angle, the works consider how perspectives are informed by a subject’s position.
Everyone has their own view on the world, and my work is my way of expressing this idea: it’s impossible to view something from every perspective at the same time. There’s always a choice, a perception. In my work there also lies a desire to take things out of context, releasing them into the air and, by doing so, giving them new value.
The artist tells Colossal that once she chooses a location to paint a mural, she studies the areas nearby. Vidal intends each project to become part of the existing environment, often prompting her utilize the color already on the building’s surface as her background. “Paint(ing) a mural is about interact(ing) with the wall and everything that surrounds it,” she writes. To get the latest on the artist’s creations, follow her on Instagram.
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Those unable to experience the black-and-white murals of Belgian artist ROA (previously) in person can admire photographs of his works in the recently published Codex. Released by Lannoo Publishers, the 352-page book contains four chapters centered on Eurasia, Africa, America, and Oceania, regions where ROA’s depictions of local animals blanket building walls. The photographs portray a snake wound around itself, six different species perched on vertical ledges, and an alligator on its back with its tail scaling a fire escape.
ROA works directly on the building, foregoing sketches and projections, and uses the architecture to inform the ways he paints birds, rodents, and other native creatures. Captivated by anatomy, the artist attempts to animate his paintings, giving energy and life to species often disregarded by humans. “Exploration of nature, more specifically of the animal world, can lead to increased empathy,” he says. “It teaches you something substantial about how one should live a good life.” The monochromatic murals’ scale often makes animals larger than their real-life bodies, securing and emboldening their monumental presence.
Codex, which is available now, also incorporates writing from RJ Rushmore, Lucy R. Lippard, Johan Braeckman, Gwenny Cooman, Robert R. Williams, and Kathy De Nève.
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.