with public art
British graffiti artist Pref explores words and common phrases through unique multi-layered murals. His 3D text is used to create amalgamations of quippy sayings, often placing one word inside of another to give a piece multiple perspectives. In the work below a turquoise “more” subtly shifts into a salmon “less” simply by a twist of the viewer’s head.
Since he got his start nearly two decades ago, Pref has been interested in challenging graffiti’s aesthetic, working with typography to bring a more accessible appearance to painted text. At first the street artist worked with the negative space between letters, which eventually became letters themselves. This transformed into his signature style of combined texts, which he has been exploring since 2010.
“Since then I have pushed and experimented with this idea of overlapping words, seeing how many I can fit into the space of one word, and then slowly boiling it down and simplifying this idea to become more legible,” he tells Colossal. “This in turn lead more to the use of ‘typography’ throughout my style as you see today. I have always been interested in the idea of graffiti speaking to the general public, rather than just other graffiti writers, and readable letters or a more ‘typographic’ approach has been a good route to that.”
Recently Pref partnered with fellow typographic street artist Gary Stranger to launch a collective titled Typograffic Circle. The group unites artists working in the type-based street art subgenre, and their first self-titled group show is on view through June 3, 2018 at London’s StolenSpace. The exhibition features work by Georgia Hill, Saïd Kinos, All Type No Face, along with Pref and Stranger. You can see more of Pref’s recent work on his Instagram and buy select prints through his Big Cartel.
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The Second Annual Nuart Aberdeen Festival Activates the Scottish Town With Installations Inspired by National and Regional Themes
It was 2002 when an international group of street art and electronic music enthusiasts organized the first Nuart Festival in Norway’s oil capital, Stavanger. The idea was to create a secondary event for their music program in order to introduce some of the most interesting artists of the underground street art movement. Keeping their concept simple yet original, the festival presented an annual platform for national and international artists who operated outside of the traditional art establishment, both indoors and outdoors, to stimulate conversation that would challenge the notions of what art is, and what it can be.
It wasn’t long before the visual part of the project continued on its own and grew into what’s now widely considered to be the world’s leading celebration of street art among its peers. It was around the 15th year of the festival when founder and director Martyn Reed and his team were approached by the city of Aberdeen, Scotland with an idea to develop a similar project in their own town. After years of rejecting similar offers, the team felt a strong connection and similarities between the two oil industry-dependent cities, and in 2017 the first edition of Nuart Aberdeen (previously) was introduced to the public.
The 2nd edition of this festival was held only a few weeks ago, and once again brought the Granite City to the spotlight of the international urban and street art scene. Nuart Aberdeen invited well-established artists who first started their careers at Nuart in Stavanger, such as Bordalo II and Ernest Zacharevic, which helped introduce a wide range and vibrancy of contemporary street art to the young festival. Working with local themes and subjects, but within their individual visual languages and mediums, the international line-up of artists produced an impressive series of public murals, installations, and interventions, which brightened up the daily routines of locals, and provided a new attraction for the festival’s visitors.
Addressing themes like the relationship between UK and Scotland (Hyuro), regional history and legends (Bordalo II, Milu Correch, Nimi & RH74, Phlegm), or referring to local specifics such as the lively seagull population (Conzo & Globel; Ernest Zacharevic or Snik), the public works covered topics that locals could easily identify with and engage. And while these pieces were being created on the streets and alleys of the Grey City, selected group of academics were discussing and presenting the past, current, and possible future state of the movement, in the presence of local and international enthusiasts, fans, and members of the creative community.
Always highlighting the activism side of public art, this year’s edition included a project with Amnesty International, presenting their project in support of women human rights defenders in the UK. For this part of the project the team joined forces with “craftivist” Carrie Reichardt who designed an elaborate ceramic mosaic that celebrates Scotland’s woman human rights defenders and the Suffragette movement. The London-based contemporary ceramicist also created “We are Witches” and “Trailblazing Women of Aberdeen,” borrowing the aesthetics of traditional stain glass windows. She also helped create a public monument to local unsung heroes which was fully designed, cut, and installed by local volunteers under the stewardship of Reichardt.
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Abstract Shapes and Graffiti-Inspired Swirls Leap off the Wall in New Three-Dimensional Murals by Peeta
Italian artist Manuel de Rita a.k.a. Peeta (previously) transforms static structures by painting colorful cubes and abstracted cylindrical shapes to appear as if they are floating above the surface of the wall. This technique was derived from the traditional 3D lettering he grew up painting, and continues to evolve as he experiments with realistic objects, like the window that protrudes from the turquoise and purple work below.
“Initially, my works only realized the sculptural quality of individual letters, namely the ones that spelled out my own moniker Peeta,” he says in an artist statement. “Progressively, the fusion between traditional lettering and three dimensional style has given life to a unique kind of visual rhythm. Today, through my anamorphic works I redesign the volumes of any kind of surface involved, thus causing with my paintings a temporary interruption of normality by altering the perception of familiar contexts, and so raising a different understanding of spaces and, consequently, of reality as a whole.”
These large-scale explorations of multiple dimensions and eye-boggling optics have been painted globally, including Guangzhou, China; Barcelona, Spain; Mirano, Italy, and more. Recently the artist wrapped up an artist residency at Jardin Orange in Shenzhen, China. You can see more of Peeta’s work, including his paintings on canvas and sculptural objects, on his website and Instagram. (via Cross Connect Magazine)
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Splash and Burn: An Artist-Led Initiative Raising Awareness About the Negative Effects of Palm Oil Production in South Asia
Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of palm oil, the harvesting of which has been shown to have extremely adverse effects on wildlife and natural resources, including deforestation, fires, and the displacement of people and animals. Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic (previously) witnessed this devastation during his time spent photographing and traveling throughout the country, and decided to found the initiative Splash and Burn to spread public awareness about the resource’s inhumane production.
“A state of global environmental crisis is defining our generation,” Zacharevic tells Colossal. “As consumers, we are so disconnected from the source of our commodities that we do not recognize the impact of our daily choices. This project is an effort to bridge that gap.”
The organization’s name comes from slash-and-burn, the cheap practice of burning land to clear the way for new plantations, a method that releases toxic smoke, and has been linked to more than 500,000 respiratory infections. For two years Zacharevic researched these issues effecting Indonesia’s population, meeting with NGOs, locals, and wildlife sites to educate himself on the organizations fighting against the practices and attempting to heal from their destruction.
After researching the area and its local organizations, like the Orangutan Information Centre, the Lithuanian artist invited several fellow creatives to respond to the native landscape and the palm oil crisis through art installations. Since February, international artists have created murals, sculptures, and other works throughout Sumatra. Pieces include an orangutan mural painted by VHILS, Isaac Cordal’s miniature hazmat suit installation, and Zacharevic’s plantation intervention in which he inserted the message SOS into the landscape’s trees.
“I wanted to communicate the magnitude of the problem to a wider audience, as well as provide creative outlook, hope, and inspiration to local communities and conservationists,” says Zacharevic in a press release about the work. “From the ground, you would not suspect anything more than just another palm oil plantation, the aerial view however reveals an SOS distress signal. ‘Save our Souls’ is a message communicated to those at a distance, a reminder of the connectedness we share with nature. As more of the forests are lost, we lose a little bit of ourselves in the process.”
So far Splash and Burn has worked with Anders Gjennestad aka Strøk, Axel Void, Bibichun, Gabriel Pitcher, Isaac Cordal, Mark Jenkins, and Pixel Pancho. The ongoing initiative is curated by Zacharevic and coordinated by Charlotte Pyatt. To follow upcoming installations or support the project’s efforts visit the Sumatran Orangutan Society website or Splash and Burn’s Instagram.
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Artist Levalet (previously) headlined this year’s Roads Street Art Festival, which brought together street mosaics, basketball, DJs, and more in Orleans, France this past April. For the festival, Levalet (a.k.a. Charles Leval) created several new craft paper and India ink works which include a large-scale chamleon, hazmat suit-clad mailmen, and car crammed onto the side of a glass elevator shaft.
Levalet continues his tradition of producing life-size or larger than life works, while also injecting humor into these urban additions. In another new work for Orleans, a man rests on top of an electrical box while filming himself with an old-school camera. “Cinema” is painted behind the lounging man, which adds a humorous bent to the black and white subject’s selfie-obsessed film.
The artist has an upcoming solo exhibition titled “The Big Gaité,” that opens at Maison Triolet Aragon in Saint Arnoult-en-Yvelines, France on May 26. You can follow more of Levalet’s public installations on his website and Facebook. (via StreetArtNews)
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For the past several months, a collective of artists in Dublin known as Subset has been coming up against the letter of the law, as the Dublin City Council (DCC) issues orders requiring Subset to paint over their colorful murals with swaths of monochromatic paint. Blindboy Boatclub, an Irish comedian and hip hop artist who was the subject of a Subset mural, points out the conundrum in an interview with JOE:
Subset have been brightening up dull spaces all over Dublin. People were engaging… taking selfies, having craic [fun conversation]. That’s what art is supposed to be, socially engaged. A genuinely engaging spectacle for real people, not just hidden away in a gallery for those with an art education. Dublin council have disappointed me. How is it OK to paint a wall one dull color of paint? But it’s illegal to paint the same space with multiple colors.
The sweep of mural removals began in late 2017, despite previous successful collaborations between DCC and Subset, as cited in the Irish Times. Although the murals are created on private property and with explicit permission from property owners, under current law the artists are still required to apply for permits for each painting. These permitting fees are calculated by square meter, and can cost thousands of euros.
As explained by RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) Ireland’s national public-service media organization, “The permission available to the artists at present is fixed and rigid whereas they require a more fluid process allowing them to apply for spaces on an ongoing basis and vary their artwork in response to changing events. As it stands, the collective must apply separately for each mural. The amount of time, bureaucracy and expense required to do this detracts from the spontaneity and impact of their art, so they don’t apply.” In contrast, the more up-to-date and efficient licensing processes in Irish cities like Limerick and Waterford have been beneficial for both artists and the city governments.
In response, members of the Subset collective have teamed up with other artists to paint new murals throughout Dublin, with a goal of adding twenty five new works. Some are vibrantly colored, drawing attention to the role that such large-scale public artworks play in enlivening urban environments. Others feature grey palettes in solidarity with the #greyareaproject hashtag, which is being used to unite the pro-mural movement, and you can see examples of both below.
Residents are also using the hashtag on social media to document pre-existing murals, as evidence of the city’s rich mural scene. You can follow the conversation on Subset’s Twitter and Instagram and via #greyareaproject on both platforms.
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Media artist Refik Anadol’s work Melting Memories combines data paintings, light projections, and augmented data sculptures to visibly demonstrate how the brain recalls memories. The installation was created with a custom 16 x 20 foot LED media wall and CNC milled rigid foam, and was shown earlier in 2018 at Pilevneli Gallery in Istanbul. In the work, seething swirls move across the work’s surface, resembling cresting ocean waves, blossoming flowers, and shifting sand.
To generate the data, Anadol conducted experiments at the Neuroscape Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco. An artist statement describes the technical process: “Anadol gathers data on the neural mechanisms of cognitive control from an EEG (electroencephalogram) that measures changes in brain wave activity and provides evidence of how the brain functions over time. These data sets constitute the building blocks for the unique algorithms that the artist needs for the multi-dimensional visual structures on display.”
Anadol is a media artist and director who specializes in site-specific public art that explores the intersection of physical and digital reality. Born in Istanbul, the artist is now based in Los Angeles, where he is a visiting researcher and lecturer at UCLA’s Department of Design Media Arts. You can see more of his work on his website, as well as on Instagram, Vimeo, and Behance.
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Editor's Picks: Street Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.