with street art
Baltimore-based artists Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn, known as Jessie and Katey, started creating murals because of the sheer accessibility of public art. The pair have always created work with a big visual impact, but as their designs grew they began to consider the possibility of working on the ground in addition to large-scale walls. Their site-specific floor works combine inspirations from both textiles and board games to create interactive walkways that encourage play and exploration. Jessie and Katey explain to Colossal that “the compositions are inspired by the viewer and how they might travel through the work. It’s really fun watching little kids interact with the floor murals—they always know what to do.”
The math behind both textile design and quilting is an aspect that the pair must consider when painting their large-scale works, and have started to inform how the pair begins each piece’s early designs. “We approach our large-scale work a bit like screen printers, even though we don’t screen print,” the pair explains. “Our process of execution is very methodical and we tend to think in planes or layers. This is probably a result of having to develop concepts and adapt them to larger spaces in a short amount of time. It’s interesting that painting murals has informed how we paint murals.”
This summer Jessie and Katey are working with the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation in Baltimore to create a site-specific mural for the Foundation’s new community space. The artists will also be painting a piece in Sacramento in collaboration with Wide Open Walls and later this fall will be working on an immersive installation incorporating recycled materials at Baltimore’s Goucher College, a rare opportunity for the pair to work in three dimensions. You can view more of Jessie and Katey’s work on their website and Instagram.
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For the last 13 years, guerrilla miniaturist Slinkachu (previously) has been creating barely noticeable scenes to be discovered by unsuspecting passersby. The London-based artist uses tiny model people whose minuscule size creates humorous and thought-provoking scenarios. Slinkachu often comments on current events and social dynamics in his work. An installation at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent features a purse placed nonchalantly on a gallery bench, which turns out to be a meta-gallery. Inside the purse, small figures admire glorified tokens of consumer consumer culture like framed credit cards and lipstick sculptures.
Slinkachu’s work is on view through June 22, 2019 in a two-person show with Jaune at Thinkspace in Culver City, California. You can see more from Slinkachu on Instagram, where the artist often shares videos that help contextualize the scale of his installations.
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When Huang Yung-Fu learned that the village where he had lived for decades was slated for demolition, the Taiwan resident decided to showcase the continued vibrancy of his home. Huang was the last remaining resident of the community that had once housed 1,200 households, mostly Chinese Nationalist veterans like Huang, who had been defeated by Mao Zedong’s Communist regime. By the mid-2000’s, real estate developers had bought out many residents to be able to raze the area, with Huang as the last holdout. Left on his own, the elderly veteran, who also has a strong creative streak, started painting every available surface of his surroundings. Walls, rooflines, and pathways became canvases for multi-colored Chinese characters and figurative motifs.
Since beginning the open-ended project about ten years ago, Huang’s community has become known as Rainbow Village and he, the Rainbow Grandpa. In 2010 a local university student came across Huang’s vibrant paintings and helped raise awareness for the Rainbow Village. Over a million tourists visit each year and the Taiwanese government has since pledged to keep the village intact. (via My Modern Met)
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Over the past month, the art world’s attention has been focused on the Venice Biennale, one of the most notable international shows on the planet. Many artists who are not in the invitation-only exhibition come to Venice to share their work in unaffiliated gallery shows and take advantage of the Biennale-boosted foot traffic. One such artist chose a more unorthodox setup for his Venice sideshow. Banksy (previously) joined the hordes of street vendors selling paintings to pedestrian tourists with a salon-style setup that merged several paintings together. Titled “Venice in Oil,” the multi-panel work depicts a gas-guzzling cruise ship towering over the ancient city as gondoliers in traditional dress row by.
Last week, many media outlets speculated that a stenciled artwork on a canal wall, depicting a migrant child holding up an S.O.S. flare was created by Banksy. But the British artist verifies his own work by sharing it on Instagram and his website, where the piece has yet to appear. The video below offers an on-the-ground view of the artist’s guerrilla street stall.
Update: The morning of May 24, 2019, Banksy claimed the rumored migrant child stencil in addition to his streetside setup.
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Pejac (previously) recently spent some time inside one of the oldest continuously running prisons in Spain. The prison, El Dueso, is a hulking structure built on the ruins of Napoleon’s fortress. True to his efforts to create and place his work in unusual settings and initiate conversations about unpopular subjects, the Gold Mine project resulted in three interventions that the artist realized in collaboration with inmates. “A prison itself is a place wrapped in harsh reality,” Pejac explained. The artist continues, “At the same time, I feel that it has a great surrealist charge. It is as if you only need to scratch a little on its walls to discover the poetry hidden inside.”
Making a connection between the sterile isolation inside and the lush nature surrounding the facility, the biggest and arguably most striking piece is an immense tree, a metaphor of ultimate, unspoiled freedom. The Shape of Days serves as a monument to the most cherished virtue: perseverance. It is entirely built from countless hash marks that reference an age-old method of keeping track of time away from the real world. Making an analogy between the tree leaves as the symbol of growth and marks as the symbol of extreme restraint, the majestic image captures the passage of time while providing hope.
Placed in a sterile, newly built corridor that connects the cells and outdoor areas, Hollow Walls is a poetic illusion of sliding doors made from the blank concrete walls. Through minimal artistic intervention, the artist added a sense of depth and perspective, creating a distraction for those walking along these walls daily. Once again using one of his most recurring images, a soaring bird, Pejac created an atmosphere of reachable yet fictional freedom.
The final piece, Hidden Value, also uses an element that artist has introduced in his previous work: a peeled off corner of an existing object suggesting an alternative reality. Working with people whose everyday life is stripped of life’s basic pleasures, Pejac wanted to provide some sense of luxury to the basic and highly restricted routine of the inmates. Using real 22-carat gold leaf and a trompe l’oeil technique he’s used before, he created an illusion of the basketball board revealing a large gold plate under its familiar surface. Challenged by taking everyday items and creating an alternative reality around them, the artist explored the previously mentioned idea of scratching under the surface and discovering that “sometimes, it is gold that does not shine.”
Explore more of Pejac’s thought-provoking work, ranging from site-specific installations to gallery pieces, on Instagram.
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For the Peinture Fraiche Festival, Chilean street artist INTI recently painted a large-scale mural on a building in Lyon, France. Titled “SOLEIL” (Blinded by the Light), the piece features a sun-shaped bouquet of flowers framing, obstructing, and fusing with the face of a cosmic figure that stands several stories tall.
The wall art uses INTI’s signature violet and orange-gold hues to draw the eye to the top of the building. Varied shades of orange give the flowers depth as they become the figure’s face and shirt. The purple of her neck provides a glimpse of space littered with plastics and other objects, and a closer look past the scissors and down the streaking grey tones of the arms reveals a bird clutched in one of the hands of the mysterious giant.
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Jan Kaláb (also sometimes known as POINT or CAKES) works on vast outdoor spaces to add pulsating concentric circles of color. The Czech artist grew up in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, where graffiti and street art were non-existent. In the 1990’s, Kaláb paved a path for the graffiti community by founding a crew as the Cold War ended and Western influences came to the Czech Republic.
Kaláb has worked around the world crafting abstract shapes, especially circles, “as an obsessive vocabulary for infinite variations around depth, time, and motion. Playing with circles [brings] organic imperfection and swing into his work” according to a statement on the artist’s website. Kaláboften works on adjacent or curved surfaces to heighten the play between structure and perception in his vibrant murals.
Kaláb also has a robust body of work that is shown in galleries, with his first solo exhibition in 2008. The artist’s most recent show “SHAPE & TONE” just ended at Fabien Castanier Gallery in Miami. You can see more from Kaláb on Instagram and Facebook. (via Visual Fodder)
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Editor's Picks: Architecture
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