Street Artist Multiplies Obama, Depardieu, and Rhiannon
New urban interventions from Gwelm in Paris speak to the power of a portrait in the image drenched twenty-teens, and surprisingly, the conceptual sculptures know how to break through to the most catatonic among us.
Gwelm. Rihanna. Paris, France. January 2014. (photo © Gwelm)
Entitled “Portraits 2.1” the collection of echoing images are placed in the public sphere for passersby to encounter and possibly be perplexed by. Gwelm says the new pieces begin with “the realization of the power of the image in the news and the collective unconscious, as propagated manifold by the Internet and social networks.”
Certainly the impact of some of these images is unchallenged, with the naked hungry child and dogs sniffing at the cadaver of a former Libyan president Muammar Kadhafi being perhaps the strongest. Others require more discernment or interpretation. Each choice is magnified by its repetition – a sort of electronic visual error that you associate with the screen and digital world, not this physical one. The series multiplication and superimposing of tens or even hundreds of the same image brings them to alternate life, subverting their meanings and warping them in the minds eye.
Gwelm appropriates Shepard Fairey into this portrait of Obama. Paris, France. January 2014. (photo © Gwelm)
Are they mocking indictments of human avarice, celebrity, hypocrisy? Commentaries on social conditions, advocacy of ideology, or just a clever reuse of imagery intended to prick your anterior lobe? Like a sophisticated artist and showman, Gwelm doesn’t always give you the easy answer, allowing you to decide. Describing his method of selection, Gwelm says, “Faced with the multitude of ‘ready-to-think’ images, the synergy of images diverts the mind and gives rise to questions about what we are supposed to see.”
Our digital life is full of disjointed imagery, but it is unusual when it takes this form in public space. We’ll give Gwelm points for pushing us into an uncomfortable place that implicates our involvement with these intelligent visual provocations. It’s not easy to do that these days.
Gwelm. Depardieu. Paris, France. January 2014. (photo © Gwelm)
Gwelm. Famine. Paris, France. January 2014. (photo © Gwelm)
Passersby must be startled to see dogs sniffing at the body of Muammar Kadhafi in this temporary sculpture by Street Artist Gwelm in Paris. Paris, France. January 2014. (photo © Gwelm)
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