with street art
Against the backdrop of Paris Fashion Week which introduced several collaborative projects between high fashion brands and big names from the art world (Dior partnered with KAWS and Takashi Murakami continued collaborating with Virgil Abloh, the new artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection), the French capital was hit for the first time hit by the world’s most elusive street artist—Banksy.
Without previous announcement or warning, Parisians began to discover several new street pieces that quickly materialized in the urban/street art galaxy of the social media universe and were eventually confirmed on Banksy’s official Instagram account.
The first piece was found near the Porte de la Chapelle metro station, where Paris’ refugee centre “La Bulle,” was located until August 2017. A city within a city, it was home to a makeshift camp of some 2,700 refugees and was dismantled an estimated 35 times before 2,000 migrants were bussed to temporary shelters. This was done as part of Emmanuel Macron’s wish to remove the refugees “off the streets, out of the woods,” as stated during his campaign.
With this in mind, Banksy revisited his “Go Flock Yourself” piece from 2008, and created a new version as commentary on the current political situation in France and throughout Europe. Depicting a black girl painting a Victorian wallpaper pattern over a swastika, the artist is commenting on the way politicians are concealing wrongdoing and potentially fascist policies.
The second and third pieces appeared soon thereafter. One depicts a suited man luring a three-legged dog with a bone while hiding a saw behind his back, a metaphor for politicians tricking people with promises that often have a masked, devastating agenda. The other is Banksy’s take on the iconic painting “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” by Jacques-Louis David, a symbol of French power and influence. By covering the rider with his own cape, the artist is commenting on the current misguided way the government is leading the country, blinding people with propaganda and false promises.
The last three pieces introduce Bansky’s signature rats to their genesis—Parisian artist Blek Le Rat and his rat stencils were a great influence on the Bristol-born artist, or as he stated in one of his recent IG posts: “The birthplace of modern stencil art.” Placing them around the city in ways that interact with local graffiti and building facades, it may appear as though they’re having fun blowing things up. But in reality, they are a reminder of a volatile period of civil unrest that took place in May 1968 when the government temporarily ceased to function.
In one piece a rat is propelled by a popping champagne cork. Using this symbol of affluence as their vehicle to overtake obstacles, the rodents are once again Banksy’s metaphor for working class people making significant change when they join together and fight for similar cause.
Of particular note in this Banksy “invasion” was that some of the works were miraculously revised overnight, allowing the artist to highlight one of the biggest advantages of stencil technique–its ability to be applied quickly and precisely. With this in mind, a small rat prepared to blow up a Pompidou Center sign suddenly morphed into a much larger rat with bandanna covered face. It now wields a large X-Acto knife, a common symbol of stencil cutting.
Included here are many of the works that have since emerged in Paris, but you can see several more here.
Update: This article was updated on 6/28/18 to include new images and details.
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Completed over just two days in 1986, a Keith Haring mural in Amsterdam has been revealed once again after nearly thirty years out of sight. The famed artist completed the 40-foot tall-white line painting on an outside wall during his (indoor) exhibit at the Stedelijk Museum. However, it disappeared from view a few years later when the brick facade was weatherboarded to improve climate control; the building was a storage site for the museum’s collections. Over the last ten years, graffiti artist Aileen Middel (a.k.a. Mick La Rock) pushed for the mural—his largest in Europe—to be revealed once again. The restoration of the mural was made possible because the museum changed its storage location and the building is now a Markt Kwartier West grocery store and distribution center. (via Artnet)
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Visual artist and art director Xomatok (previously) has been busy in Lima, Peru, where he’s outfitted several walls, building facades, and random rock piles with his signature full-spectrum color gradients. The vivid interventions are in the district of Lima called Villa el Salvador, Xomatok shares with Colossal. And although the artist is often commissioned to add his color pops to outdoor areas, the pieces seen here are part of his personal work. You can see more from Xomatok on Instagram.
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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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