In a town with a stultifying 112 murals and only 400 inhabitants, you already know that your work will be judged by experts – since everyone is looking and communing with multiple murals in the course of one day all over their city. This unusual urban occurrence is thanks to the Gar Gar Festival which has invited local and international artists for six years under the curatorship of the duo Binomic, formed by Maria del Mar López and Jordi Solana.
For the MEXPANIA installation, the artists Paola Delfín, Sixe Paredes, Pilar Cárdenas AKA Fusca and Daniel Muñoz all joined ranks to symbolically relocate a mosaic painted on Pino Suárez street in Mexico City – itself a reproduction of an original work made by Juan Correa in the 17th century. Joining languages, histories, and iconography, this unique enterprise could have ended in disaster, yet here presents a unified composition that speaks with poetry and authority.
To appreciate the work completely, we asked curators Arcadi Poch and Édgar Sánchez to describe it for BSA readers.
“The two main characters are Moctezuma and Hernán Cortés, who have been transformed into two symmetrical doors, crowned by two divided suns. The floor of the scene is transformed into a map that collects a series of migratory paths through the history of humanity. Two surrendered horses fall on the map, followed by two eagles, meant to represent the fall of the symbols related to all the warlike and racist conflicts that occurred 500 years ago. The play speaks to the public about the richness of the past to inspire us to build a reunion and hence a future of greater integration.”
The abstract expressionist New York graffiti writer John Andrew Parello AKA JONONE has called Paris his home for a couple of decades. So it only makes sense that his oeuvre is well suited here at le mur du Pavillon Carré de Baudouin – an expansive public work that shows his sophisticated eye for pushing a color palette.
Whether stylized and slippery text-based detonations or pod-like geometric landscapes that jauntily swerve and swoop, JONONE rarely errs in the field of hues. In this new work, he joins a strong roster of talents who have created new city environments in collaboration with ART AZOÏ.
It’s a whole new era! Or error. It’s hard to tell with events and scenes of daily life going in and out of focus, isn’t it?
Post-urban dislocation has been ratified as a modern aesthetic in recent years – late-term capitalism deflating before your eyes, you may say. Or empty consumer culture run amok with no plan for the future. Perhaps these thematic scenarios are personified by the subjects in these canvasses here from Sebas Velasco, who began this fine art career writing graffiti in the early 2000s back home of Spain.
Graffiti writers are used to viewing a city’s marginal areas, and its refreshing to see a talent like his capturing the scenes without maudlin commentary. That makes it brutal, indeed.
Hosted in a temporary event venue at 15 Bateman Street in London, W1D 3AQ, the transience and economic insecurity of the rudderless gig economy is driven home here as well for “A New Error”. These are scenes you once associated with fallen regimes, now they are merely benchmarks along the route to empty ruin. Velasco’s realism is not quite a love poem, but it hints at it.
“The works are inspired by the freedom of travel and the isolation we all shared the past year, with artists adapting their process to painting at home,” says the artist in a press statement. “The iconic structures are juxtaposed with scenes I came across in transit, just getting lost in a country, stumbling across a village or moment in the final hours of daylight. A romantic view of the journey and process, rather than outcome. Others are very small creations, studies I produced while in lockdown.”
Sebas Velasco “A new error” is currently on view in Soho, London at 15 Bateman St. The show closes tomorrow October 20th. For further detail DM @charlotte_pyatt
It’s surprising and revelatory to travel the transom between graffiti, street art, public art, and commercial art – or can be. Since we’ve supported artists at every juncture of their careers, it is enriching to contemplate the variety of projects artists do just to keep engaged with the work that rings true for them.
In the case of German duo Various & Gould, only two days ago we presented a very important multi-week installation and performance examining colonialism and systemic racism. Today we look at a commercial gig that synthesizes their fun-loving visual vocabulary and realizes it in heavy metal.
“500 grams of paper became 500 kg of metal,” Various tells us as they describe their first metal collage that helps an industrial materials company celebrate a benchmark. “The starting point was a paper collage with elements from our Face Time series,” says Gould to help you place the screen-printed eyes and graphic pieces, stylized “Farbstrahlen”, or color rays.
Mounted and secured on the side of a building on the company property, this permanently installed new installation near Niemegk may possibly last longer than many of their other works. “By slightly staggering the levels, the shadow cast within the installation changes, depending on the position of the sun,” they tell us. “Thematically, it is about the sensual perception of color and color processing.”
It’s definitely quieter here in Wynwood when there are no art fairs. But there is still so much activity. The daytime neighborhood is pounding with construction and new buildings and restaurants/bars have a steady flow of guests every night, Monday through Sunday. Thump, thump, thump. The daily foot traffic is diminished, perhaps because the sun and heat have chased everyone inside during the day, but this week we saw hundreds of people whizzing by on scooters, and some large interest with a fleet of workers was preparing for a large music event in an empty lot – with tents, food trucks, stages, lights. Now that Art Basel 2021 is officially kicking off at the end of November, no doubt there will be big things happening in Wynwood again.
So of course we went to the beach to see the never-ending blue waves. The storm on the horizon was dark and funnel-like for an hour before it disappeared and the sun coaxed a half rainbow to glimmer and shimmer brightly. The seagulls gathering near your chaise lounge are clearly there with an air of expectation, however – miserly looking over your ziplock bags with sandwiches and potato chips as you carefully peel back the paper towel to steal a bite. They are cute, true, but ever focused on your moves.
Otherwise, the Wynwood district is just chock-a-block with art – permissioned and otherwise. The faces that watch as you walk are entreating, entertaining, flaunting, peering, taunting, speaking their own impenetrable speeches and poems. The neighborhood is still in movement, still liquid, still poised for revelation. The local names are liberally sprinkled with ones you recognized, many international. If the impulse to walk one more block in search of a jewel captures you, follow it because you are invariably rewarded.
Our interview with the street today includes Anthony Lister, Bird Seed Anthony, Dan Kitchener, Disem305, Greg Mike, Gregg Rivero, Hiero Veiga, Melski, MSG Crew, Narco, NM Salgar, RACE, Sipros, and Tabue.
In their ongoing quest for creating public works that meaningfully impact society and provoke examination, Various & Gould bravely trespass the silent agreements and disagree.
During their recent multi-week installation in Berlin, the street art activist duo rips at the roots of Western Colonialism by messing with the permanence of statue materials and decades of history and its retelling.
The results are colorful and sometimes bitter, usually illuminating.
By targeting the 6 meters (19.6 foot) statue of the first German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck they created a paper-cast of the man and “took it symbolically off the pedestal under the eyes of dozens of spectators,” they say.
The de-mythologizing work brings the man and his history down to the level of the everyday person, and through of series of performances and discussions over a 5 week period from August through October, the street artists and their collaborators hope to crack open some of the conspiracies that were wide open for everyone to read about when white guys split up Africa like so many spoils.
“For ‘Monumental Shadows’,” V&G tell us, “a series of seven artistic paper impressions of monuments in Europe is planned.” This particular installment is set “against the historical background of the Berlin ‘Congo Conference’ (1884-85),” which regulated the colonization of trade in Africa by fourteen countries, effectively partitioning the continent in a formalizing of theft and imposition of power. Aside from that, it was great.
Using colorful papier-mache techniques of wrapping the sculpture and bringing the pieces to the ground for performers to interact with and formal discussion panels to happen, Various and Gould intend to recall the false narratives and address the underlying debris of social and structural racism in German society specifically, western society generally.
“Our concern is to break the power of the white narrative on colonialism by proposing a change of perspective,” they say, and their accounts of responses by passersby range from supportive to corrosive; from outright verbal attacks on dark-skinned members of the crew to Boomers stopping by to say that all of this topic was essentially passe and not necessary anymore. “We fought colonialism already in 1968!” said one woman as her husband shouted profanities at the couple.
In a story similar to those of American confederate statues coming down, there also were a fair number of people who stopped by the art project to protest the disrespect to the legacy of the statue and their personal ownership of historical events.
“Two black members of our team were still finishing some last bits of work on the scaffolding while the rest of the team was preparing the lunch break down on the ground,” they say. “Suddenly a woman (white, German, in her seventies) came by and started to shout up into the scaffolding, addressing our two team members: ‘I am outraged! This is my history.’”
“One of our team in the scaffolding answered instantly: ‘This is also our history.’”
This is not the first time that Various and Gould have created large-scale installations involving public monuments and the repositioning of historical perspectives – See our 2017 article “Marx and Engels Statues Re-Skinned & Re-Located” for example.
Perhaps because of the increasing tensions today in Europe and the US and elsewhere due to voracious crony capitalism and corruption creating a fast gulf of opportunity – and increased anxieties due to the coronavirus, V&G say they were a bit more soured than usually by the vitriol directed at them and their art project – including the unusual multiple requests by police to show permits. There were other subtleties of course.
“We noticed in many conversations with outraged citizens, that they would behave far more respectfully towards a white, cis male team member, than for example towards a female and/or person of color,” says Various.
“In general many passers-by kept bothering our team members in a number of ways,” offers Gould. “Very frequently people trivialized the German colonialism and Bismarck’s role in it.”
And for the black members of the team, the experience was also intense at times.
Billy Fowo, who worked as part of the team on the scaffolding and on the paper-casting is part of Colonial Neighbours / SAVVY Contemporary, posted this on his Instagram @karl_fowo at the end of the second week:
“Though very personal, I think the presence of people like me who don’t look ”German” to their eyes, in this process, made the pill even more bitter to swallow. But what do the words ‘my history’’ constantly sang as a chorus by this second group really mean? Bismarck & Co in organizing the 1884-85 Berlin conference – didn’t they unfortunately/ unconsciously make us ALL part of ”that history!” Of course, this is not a question! If it were one then the answer is obviously YES! We are ALL part of ”that history”. We ALL build histories! We are today more than ever in dire times, and it is vital that in rewriting and writing the pages of our histories, we completely destroy the narrative of the single story and start including multiple perspectives.”
Thus the power of monuments, and art in the public sphere. Various & Gould again do the hard work of helping us examine those who we revere, and the messages we integrate into our institutions and our daily life. Equitable society needs these questioners and questions about the ‘monumental shadows” cast over others.
“We have to deal with people who feel entitled to exclude other people from participation, from conversation, from civil rights, from society, from history,” they say.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. MANTRA in the Wynwood Jungle
BSA Special Feature: MANTRA in the Wynwood Jungle
For this installment of BSA Film Friday week we offer you our own home-made video observing French street artist and naturalist Youri Cansell AKA MANTRA as he painted in situ among the plants and animals in Miami. Tuesday night’s conversation with our editor in chief Steve Harrington and the artist on the grounds of Wynwood Walls revealed the exacting nature of the artist’s contemplative study of the very pillars of our Earth-anchored existence.
More clinical than didactic in his descriptions, his study of this species and their endangered circumstances is nonetheless passionate. Speaking against a video backdrop of Mantra painting enormous murals around the world, his sharp eye is surpassed only by his reverent appreciation for beauty, executed in precision and warmth.
Here in the temporarily verdant environment created in the gallery by curator and artist Peter Tunney, MANTRA appears to be painting in the forest preserve, surrounded by the lush and the leafy, anchored by a full-wall photo by friend Ryan Lynch of an Equadorian reserve.
A graffiti writer as a teen, an ardent and self-professed amateur entomologist and preservationist in his thirties, Mantra took it as a near-mystical sign when he spotted an actual caterpillar eating leaves on a plant next to him. He has been painting in near solitude while visitors quietly mill around behind him and he looked down to see the unique markings of this visitor, identifying it as a Monarch butterfly en route. Now the artist says that he is ever-clearer of his future projects – as we are of his future successes.
Mantra “Metamorphōsis” is open to the general public at Goldman Global Arts Gallery. Wynwood, Miami.
Here in Cork, as in an increasing portion of the western world, housing is gradually turning into a privilege, instead of a right. For the Ardu Street Art Festival in this city of 190,000, the second largest in Ireland, street artist Asbestos posed himself with a box on his head to symbolize our need for a roof.
“As a country we are currently in an existential crisis over housing,” he tells us. “There’s a fear and uncertainly about finding a safe space, and the system seems to be stacked in favor of the landlords.”
A short roster of artists are here this year for the festival – and hometown talent Conor Harrington is currently working on his first mural for the city. The other participants this year include Friz and Shane O’Malley. Of course, being in your hometown doesn’t mean much if you don’t actually have a home.
“Home isn’t simply about where you were born, it’s where you feel you belong, where you feel safe, where you’re welcomed, where you can come back to and feel accepted, loved and part of a community,” says Asbestos as he discusses rents and mortgages. He tells us that it took over a week to paint this new mural, and during that time he had many conversations with people on the street who feel the economic anxiety and insecurity that is pushing more people closer to the door – here and elsewhere.
“It was wonderful to speak to so many curious Corkonians about the mural. The support has been amazing from the public and my friends and family here, Cork definitely felt like my home for a week.”
Just after seeing Billie Eilish or Young Thug at the “Life is Beautiful Festival” in September you could wander over through vintage Las Vegas to check out the new fluorescent diptych by street artist Spidertag. It’s an installation that happily recalls a heyday most visitors didn’t experience, but are drawn to.
The Spaniard has brought his glowing vocabulary here in a way that is evocative of that which once distinguished the nighttime streetscape of Sin City. “Electrified eye candy” is how curator Charlotte Dutoit of Justkids describes it, and in fact, the simplicity of shapes appears romantically nostalgic in a modern time that seems cluttered with visual complexity.
The modern twist is that Spider Tag made his installation interactive, allowing visitors to alter the colors if they want. His installation joins the success of street artist Felipe Pantone’s first-ever-solar powered neon mural here a few years ago – and looking at the poster letter style of this year’s poster – It’s an aesthetic that many are enamored with.
Half biologist, half street artist, all gentleman. The French painter Youri Cansell AKA Mantra opens his very first US solo show tonight at Goldman Global Arts (GGA) in Miami. In preparation for “Metamorphōsis,” the artist has been painting non-stop all summer at a temporary studio in Cancun.
The 15 or so canvasses are gathered comfortably against a fresh seafoam green interior, nestled among large leafy installations by curator Peter Tunney, who finds a fine balance in his quest for creating a complementary environmental context in the space. Anchored at one end of the gallery by a full-wall spread photographic print (by Ryan Lynch), guests gain some sense of scale for the places Mantra has traveled in search of this species – in this case, an Ecuadorian forest preserve that the artist has traveled many times to in search of the blue morpho butterfly.
He found one and he has the pictures and paintings to prove it – two as the pristine collector’s presentation in shadow boxes, one in his new direction of presenting the Lepidopteran world – in their natural habitats of wood and leaves.
The precisely detailed, hued, textured, and shimmering beauties are evocative of autumn art-show glamour – all clad in satin and furs and bubbling golden champagne. Fashion may clearly not be Mantra’s intent here, but how can you not see these gorgeous beauties this way – a soiree of international stunners arriving single and with crew in tow; against this wall is his Costa Rican Collection – hanging directly across the room from his Mexican Ensemble.
Precursors to the butterfly, three moths are repping as well and in stunning detail. One’s massive wing-span is as large as yours – fingertip to fingertip – its textures and patterning subtle and luxurious tone-on-tone beige. Precise and accurate, any entomologist who sees this show will approve of Mantra’s depictions, and most likely they’ll marvel as well.
A departure from the pop-inspired, graphical, or wild-styled, Mantra’s studious realism is a far cry from what street art fans may associate with ‘the scene’. However, his teenage escapades on French city streets with aerosol-can-in-hand under cover of the night are exactly what brought him to this point. His professional ‘tag’ is to bear witness to realities of the natural world, and that can earn you just as much street cred in some circles as all species are increasingly under temporary and permanent threat.
We plan to ask him more tonight when BSA interviews Mantra here live for his official US debut.
Hope you can fly in.
Mantra: “Metamorphōsis”. Open to the public at Goldman Global Arts Gallery. Wynwood, Miami. Click HERE for details.
A new cultural eruption in the heart of Pompei, Italy, the first edition of the Pompei Street Festival in September included frescoes and free music and many opportunities for people to experience contemporary life in this city famous for its buried and revealed history.
Portuguese street artist Mrkas here ties the two together with his mural inspired by a sculpture in Pompei’s archeological park, the site of the ancient Roman city Pompeii buried by the lava of Mount Vesuvius in 79 BC. The elevated street depiction elevates the blindfolded faces in the Centaurus basement; inspired by the works of Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj.
Southeast of historic Naples and its forms smoothly draped or otherwise, MrKas appropriately brings his virtuosic application of color and light to add dimensional realism to the new wrapped faces. It’s natural for him, a fan of 3D and hyperrealism – and here in Pompei, his new work is positioned properly between classical antiquity and the current fashion of art in the streets.
“Gurl, I Just Came For the Sunburn” is the cleverly worded T-shirt design we just conjured, but didn’t see in any of the many stores selling “Miami”-emblazoned memorabilia this weekend. New Yorkers are from a colder climate where sexy college girls are already wearing tight turtleneck sweaters and leggings and handsome boys are sporting corduroy and blazers. Not here in Miami Beach or Wynwood, where less is more, and naked is a matter of opinion.
It’s Carnivale weekend so the streets and hotels are bursting with Brazilian and Trinidadian and otherwise Caribbean influences, including phenomenal costumes, dancing, trap music, and raucous peels of laughter. After some time on Miami Beach surrounded by bathing beauties and dodging freelance vendors selling Pina Coladas, margaritas, marijuana edibles, and other drugs from their backpacks, we caught an energetic and sexy floor show featuring earth-shaking amounts of bouncing beauty and a lip-synching rendition of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Girls in the Hood” that served so much twerking abandon that the fishnet stockings industry ran out of inventory by 3 am Sunday.
Here on the streets this quick sample of shots gives you an idea of the messages and palettes now greeting visitors all over this neighborhood of Wynwood– with some faces lifted from posters so you see how you’re supposed to be stylin’. Call it a survey of local color to ease you into the Miamian week BSA will be sharing with our readers. Bienvenidos!
Our interview with the street today includes Askew One, Atomik, Binho, Claudia La Bianca, Krayzie Bone, Guillermo Zanches, Irene Lopez Leon, Marina Capdevilla, Milu Correch, MSG Crew, Osorno, Pixel Pancho, and Rodo.