with street art
Artist Xomatok (previously) translates the vibrant, geometric motifs of handwoven Andean blankets, or llicllas, into large-scale works that mark the pathways through the hilly Alisos de Amauta neighborhood in Lima, Peru. Painted during the course of two months as part of the Municipality of Lima’s Pinta Lima Bicentenario, the 13 interventions were a collaborative undertaking by the artist and local residents, who transformed the public staircases that wind through the district into multi-level canvases. The resulting patterns are kaleidoscopic and highlight a spectrum of bright colors and symmetries often associated with the traditional textiles. In a note to Colossal, Xomatok says community members will add to the project as a way to continue celebrating their cultural history, and you can take an aerial tour of the finished pieces on the artist’s Instagram.
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Rosehips, horned poppies, and an African carline thistle grow from the debris and ruined buildings in Beirut following a mural series by Faith XLVII. The South African artist (previously) traveled to the Lebanese city this September as part of Underline—the ongoing project is helmed by the art collective Persona in collaboration with the Hamra-based NGO Art of Change, which is focused on using public works for protest and to spark change—to paint a collection of curative flowers that appear to sprout from the rubble.
Contrasting their dainty forms to the rugged landscape, the metaphorical works in Medicinal Flowers of Lebanon lead “us along the brittle sites of Beirut, tracing past and present scars etched into the city,” the artist says. “Each flower urges us in a sense, towards healing as they grow out of the concrete.” The chosen botanics are remedies for common ailments, like using chicory to treat gallstones or slathering clematis paste on skin infections, and they rely on the strength of their natural properties to cure wounds that are both visible and not.
Faith’s visit to Beirut came amidst a period of crisis following the devastating port explosion on August 4, 2020, that left the country without a fully operative government for 13 months and accelerated its economic collapse. “The people of Lebanon have had many dire challenges over the decades, and the expectation for them to be resilient is exhausting,” the artist says, explaining further:
Even in a time with four hours of electricity a day and waiting for hours for petrol that might run out before you make it to the front of the line, where your life savings are suddenly worth nothing, even in this time, there are still some rays of hope. There are many people and organizations working to improve the conditions of others. So when we are abused abandoned by the custodians of justice and governance, it is the people themselves who pick up the debris and assist each other in healing. That is what the series Medicinal Flowers of Lebanon speaks to.
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Using geometric motifs and vibrant hues that contrast their brick and concrete backdrops, multi-disciplinary artist Georgie Nakima paints oversized portraits that use color to convey “divinity, resilience, strength, and beauty.” The Charlotte-based artist, who works as Garden of Journey, gravitates toward bright reds and blues to form stripes, facial features, and various plants and animals in a manner that connects the central subjects to their environments. “The color is totally freestyle, and I really like to start with a base color or gradient,” she tells Colossal. “Especially in urban societies, it’s not always inspiring when you’re surrounded by gray and brown buildings.”
A studio artist primarily, Nakima creates smaller works on paper in addition to her more monumental projects, all of which are tied to ideas of Afrofuturism and countering media narratives with positive messages. Her practice has evolved in recent years from strict hyperrealism to a more abstract style that uses patches of color and patterns. “It’s still proportionately realistic, but there’s more depth,” she says, sharing that she focuses equally on her subjects and their surroundings. “My murals are really playing to the ecosystem. I am a portrait artist. However, I don’t seek for my work to be focused on humans existence. (I want to) put some of the focus off of the human ego and think holistically about who we are on this planet.”
Nakima is currently working on a piece at Mechanics and Farmers Bank, Charlotte’s first Black-owned financial institution, and you can see more of her outdoor projects, portraits on paper, and basketball court transformations on Instagram.
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Brazilian artists Douglas de Castro and Renato Reno (previously) are the duo behind Bicicleta Sem Freio, who paint large-scale murals that surround their subjects with a chaotic mix of cartoon characters, squiggly splashes, and brightly colored plants and animals. Their streetside pieces, which can be found in cities like New Dehli, Jerusalem, and Fortaleza, Brazil, balance local culture and references to popular imagery and tropical landscapes. “Our work is influenced by the ‘80s and ‘90s global and Brazilian pop culture,” they tell Colossal. “We both enjoyed watching cartoons and television shows when we were younger, and we are also deeply inspired by nature. ”
Rendered in vibrant blocks of color, Bicicleta Sem Freio’s murals depict a range of subject matter from the native plants of New Dehli to a project honoring people with disabilities in La Solana, Spain. Prior to working on a piece, the pair immerse themselves in the contemporary and historical aspects of the community to draw in mainstream and unconventional references. “We also engage with the locals and ask them about the type of music they listen to and what are the typical animals from the region. This information is crucial for us and ultimately informs our final design… It’s a weird and fun mix,” they share.
De Castro and Reno are currently in São Paulo working on a piece for NaLata Festival before heading to the U.S. next month. You can find limited-edition prints on JustKids, and follow the artists’ upcoming projects on Instagram.
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Thanks to Gerardo Gomez-Martinez (aka Hacer), the public plazas on Broadway in New York City’s Garment District are now a zoo of origami-style animals. The Mexican-American artist installed a series of powder-coated steel sculptures that loom over dining areas and walkways as part of Transformations. Commissioned by The Garment District Alliance, the project consists of seven creatures that vary in size, including a yellow dog, a magenta elephant, a green bear cub, and two turquoise rabbits and coyotes, one of which extends 14 feet from nose to tail.
If you’re in Manhattan, stop by the plazas between 36th and 39th streets before November 23 to see the bold animals in person. (thnx, Laura!)
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A spate of public art is flooding the streets of Basildon in Essex, England as part of a new initiative that falls at the intersection of social and environmental justice. Throughout the summer, curators Doug Gillen and Charlotte Pyatt, who are operating together as Re:FRAMED, tasked eight artists with creating large-scale murals and smaller painted works as part of Our Towns: Climate. The resulting pieces reconsider some of today’s most pressing issues through the lens of local art and include a glitched technicolor horse by Aches, INSA’s floral windows, and Michele Curtis’s bright message of support.
Established by the government to house relocated Londoners following World War II, Basildon is marked by its Brutalist architecture and a lengthy history of braving devastation. “This sentiment forms the heart of the Our Towns programme, engaging culture to consider new solutions to old problems in addressing our relationship with public space and each other,” a statement says.
Our Towns will kick off in-person programming on September 11 with workshops, tours, and live artmaking, and you can follow its progress on Re:FRAMED’s Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.