with street art
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.
Share this story
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.
Share this story
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.
Share this story
Color-Blocked Animals and Geometric Shapes Transform Neglected Home in Installation by Okuda San Miguel
Spanish street artist Okuda San Miguel is bringing vibrancy once again to a formerly untended area of Fort Smith, Arkansas. His recent project, “The Rainbow Embassy,” was curated by global creative house Justkids for the Unexpected, an effort to revitalize dilapidated areas in Arkansas through a series of immersive arts initiatives. For the installation, Okuda painted a neglected house that occupied a lot adjacent to Darby Junior High School with a series of multi-colored geometric shapes and lines. The structure even has two faces resembling animals painted on its sides.
“This project gave me the possibility to expand on my previous work, adding in more architectonic dimension and completing my vision of mythical animals,” Okuda says. He wants his work to bring “a touch of imagination and play into the daily lives of the neighboring community and students and Darby Junior High, as they will get to enjoy the installation and watch as it evolves through the seasons.”
Okuda is known for his metamorphic projects, including his work on churches in Morocco and Spain and on a 19th-century French castle. If you’re in Fort Smith, head downtown to check out the permanent installation. Otherwise, find more of the artist’s vibrant transformations on Instagram.
Share this story
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.
Share this story
A T-Rex is inhabiting the streets of Paris. Artist Julien Nonnon has given life to extinct creatures in his latest work, “Prehistoric Safari,” by using video-mapping technology to project images of the dinosaurs in the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a long-established Parisian amusement park. Nonnon says the digital art form, which is at the intersection of photography, video, architecture and scenography, has allowed him to produce 17 3D-projections of species that occupied the Cretaceous period. A T-Rex flaunting its yellow eyes and a triceratops brandishing green horns appear at nightfall on building sides in holographic form.
The artist tells Colossal that this project is centered on pop culture and “was inspired by the adventure books of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and Michael Crichton, as well as Steven Spielberg’s movies.” In addition to the 3D-projections, Nonnon also directed a mini film titled “Dino Escape,” which depicts a dinosaur invasion of Paris’s streets and includes an interactive quest for audience members to retrieve a T-Rex egg and bring it to present day.
Share this story
There’s a traffic jam on Miami Beach thanks to Leandro Erlich (previously). Erlich’s installation, titled “Order of Importance,” is an effort to put conversations surrounding climate change front and center. Commissioned by the city of Miami Beach and curated by Ximena Caminos and Brandi Reddick, the installation features 66 life-sized cars and trucks erected on the beach at Lincoln Road. Made of sand, the vehicles blend in with the surrounding beach and highlight the temporary nature of their construction. They will be allowed to deteriorate until the exhibition closes December 15.
“The climate crisis has become an objective problem that requires immediate solutions,” Erlich says. “As an artist, I am in a constant struggle to make people aware of this reality, in particular, the idea that we cannot shrink away from our responsibilities to protect the planet.”
Caminos added that the exhibit, “like an image from a contemporary Pompeii or a future relic, also alludes to our fragile position in the large universal canvas. It interacts with the climate crisis facing the world, particularly the rising sea level.”
Erlich, who resides in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, is known for combining architecture, sculpture, and theater to create surreal works that alter traditional conceptions of natural environments. “Order of Importance” is his largest installation to date. You can find more of his work on Instagram and his site.
View this post on Instagram
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Architecture
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.