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Brooklyn Street Art

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On The Road With Nanook, Ever, Sten & Lex Through Italy and France

Posted on September 10, 2012

What did you do this summer? We’re starting off the week with a colorful and detailed travelog  from Rosanna Bach, who really gives BSA readers a sense of the experience for Street Artists who go to distant places to create their art on walls for fun and festivals. Thanks to Rosanna as photographer and contributor, here you have an opportunity to spend some time in Italy traveling with Ever, Nanook, Sten & Lex as they go from Rome to Foligno, Italy. She documents their participation for the second edition of Attack Festival and captures the artists working under the scorching sun and in intimate, quiet settings. In this BSA exclusive Rosanna also put in words her summer experiences as she leaves Foligno for Paris where she documented EVER as he participated in Le Mur.

Roma to Foligno. We de-board the train and are about to exit the station when Ever waves me back. Sten is scuttling back and forth in the train like a trapped hamster. We thought he was stuck in there looking for an open door so we wave him over to the open door but he does not get out. He is struck with confusion as different orders fly from different directions. Meanwhile, the passengers are hanging over the windows to see what all the fuss is about.

Mission accomplished; Laptop is retrieved.

Barely begun, this trip already seems promising.

Ever. Roma to Foligno. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Foligno, Italy. This was once called the “Centre of the World” because the Pope had supposedly kept his treasury here in the 15th century. It is certainly a beautiful place, although considerably more modest than its name implies. This is where we would spend the next five days and would be introduced to the “Hurdi Gurdi”. It is also a place where it seems that the solution to every problem was, “Lets go have a coffee”.

Sten & Lex, Nanook, and Ever had been painting together at the Open Walls Festival in Baltimore just a few months back. Three very different artists, from three corners of the world, were here meeting again in the “Centre of the World” for the second ever “Attack Festival”.  Upon arrival we learn that we have arrived early. Two months early!

In September Foligno’s Attack Festival will be graced by the likes of; 108, Andrea Abbatangelo, Achille, Airone,  Bol 23,  Danilo Bucchi, Stefano Canto,  Mario Consiglio, Diamond TTS, Alberto Di Fabio, Ericailcane, Hitnes, Hogre,  JB Rock, Kindergarten,Lucamaleonte, Martina Merlini&Tellas, Roman Minin, Moneyless, Ozmo, Alice Pasquini, Cristiano Petrucci, David Pompili, David Eron Salvadei, Ale Senso, Sten&Lex.

Main Square, Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Nanook, Ever and Sten & Lex check out their new walls. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Sten & Lex. The two Italians have been working together for more then 10 years and are considered kind of the “Mama and Papa of stencil” in Italy where their current style consists of “stencil posters”; large scale wheat pasted portraits that they hand-cut intricate patterns onto. They usually use portraits of strangers, however this piece was of a friend’s brother who had taken his own life.  They will return in September for round two.

Sten & Lex, Foligno, Italy. (photo © Federica Tega)

Sten & Lex, Foligno, Italy. (photo © Federica Tega)

Nanook.  Fairly new to the street art scene (painting large scale for a year or so), he has left his studio that he used to share with “Gaia” back in Baltimore for new adventures in the old-world. He has been recording on paper his plan as he goes (from Berlin to Budapest and now Italy) “I feel so privileged to even be able to paint in this town, with all this history and the beautiful buildings”, he writes.

A calm and humble figure, he is constantly knocking out new sketches, whether using black ink or espresso in his black notebook, leaving no time for siestas. His hunger to learn is energizing; “I would just love to work and learn from an old master like they have here in Italy”.

As his style evolves playing by with realism, abstract lines and shapes, it will be very interesting to see how this young artist grows. In this piece he incorporated the shape of Umbria, the region in which Foligno lies. Now he is a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires. Lets see what happens…

Nanook “Siesta Time”. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Nanook. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Argentine artist Ever creates the most political work out of the three.

It must be a challenge to try and explain yourself in a foreign language that; you are not actually a devoted worshipper of Mao Tse Tung but that you are in fact talking about human contradiction, how in times of crisis people always seem to be convinced that the opposite is the solution. For example, as a result of the current decline of the capitalist system, many are swaying towards the left side of the political spectrum. “We are looking outward into one room. But why don’t we go to another room to find new solutions?” asks Ever.

Ever. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Ever. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Paint bucket. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Nanook, Ever. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

As passers stopped to comment, Nanook looks frazzled and Ever lets them ramble on for minutes without a clue what they are talking about. “Si si bene bene grazie, bon journi!” he’d reply to them and they’d be on their way.

The language barrier doesn’t seem to faze this one character though. He is here to stay with his beloved Hurdi Gurdi. “We make artistic exchange!” he cries.

The Hurdi Gurdi. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Nanook, Ever. Foligno, Italy. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Once the 3 x 5 meter mural was finished I was expecting some sort of a scream of joy or something like that, but Ever just said: “I am always dissatisfied with a wall when I finish it. I never like it at first.”

We go from a scorching roadside in Foligno to “Le Mur” beside a trendy café in Montmartre, Paris. One of the few legal walls in Paris – it is a billboard-style space that a new artist is invited to paint every two weeks. “It is really hard to paint here in Paris, especially big walls,” Ever explains.

Paris. The place where Ever has spent the last 2 months, and where he lived for a while back in 2010. Paris was the turning point for him; he began to inject politics into his art. “Paris is a political place for me”.

Ever. Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Ever. “Free Tibet” Detail. Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

After just one night the wall was tagged and “Free Tibet” stickers had been stuck on the soldiers’ suits. “No, no this is good, this is France, it’s a good thing when the people react. We leave them on. This is like a conversation with the people.”

Ever. “Free Tibet”. Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

A lady who must have been about 80 years old appeared on day one, and whipped out a huge DSLR camera from her purse. She returned there everyday since. She even brought photographs she had taken of the process and took the time to hand write the date and place on each photograph.

Ever. “Free Tibet” Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Ever. “Free Tibet” Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Why are you guys doing this?!” An agitated pedestrian asked me hastily. Once I explained that concept to him he replied, reassured; “Oh I see, it’s meant to be provocative.”

Ever. “Free Tibet”. Le Mur. Paris (photo © Rosanna Bach)

From what I understand, after listening to countless conversations about street art, these artists are really looking for long term investors for their work, not just fast money. They’re resisting becoming a passing phase only to be dropped like a hot potato after this street art wave dies down. Fame seems to be irrelevant – but if it is a by-product then so be it. “I don’t like business, I just want to paint”, Ever says.

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Many thanks to Rosanna Bach for her diligence, passion and her talents.

http://rosannabach.tumblr.com/

http://openwallsbaltimore.com/

http://associazioneattack.wordpress.com/

http://eversiempre.com/

http://stenlex.net/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nanookart

http://lemur.asso.fr/

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