We’re up to our necks in deep frosty wind-whipping winter, and yet the Street Art right now is verbose, detailed, bright eyed, distinct, political, critical, stylish, dense, richly colorful.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week from Miami, and this time featuring Armyan, Captain Eyeline, Cash4, China, City Kitty, COMBO, CP Won, Food Baby Soul, Glare, Jaroe, Jaye Moon, Jazi, Marameo Universe, Plasma Slug, Rodak, Sara Lynne Leo, Smells, UK WC, and Winston Tseng.
The resonance of Brooklyn/New York Street Arist Jean Michel Basquiat continues to amaze us, in his reach, in his relevance to people who he may have never imagined that he would inspire. Today we bring you 0907 in Beijing, who is telling us that he went on many spots throughout the city with his new cardboard composite work – a stencil that captures his feeling about an artist on the other side of the world who lived and died, perhaps before he was born. As an additional cultural mashup, he employs the vocabulary of a secondary Street Art, Shepard Fairey.
And Mickey Mouse for good measure.
“One day I watched a movie called “Basquiat,” he tells us, “and another called is ‘Ridiculous Years’ I had some insight into the age of his life. So I made a poster which borrowed Obey’s style.and I posted these on my city. At that moment I felt I am the radiant child in my city.”
The streets can be a mirror, a diary, a stage to rant, prophesy, profess love.
Today we have Chinese Street Artist 0907 pouring his heart out for all to see. This Saturday will be the 100th day since he met someone very special he tells us. “This is a story about love at first sight,” he says, adding, “She is a student at an art college.”
And what else does a Street Artist do when he’s in love? He makes art to tell the world, like this 50cm square stencil portrait. “I am sure I have fallen in love with her,” he says with stars in his eyes.
Wandering along a footpath under the elevated street in Beijing these days you are likely to find the same sort of graffiti tags, wildstyle burners and stenciled celebrities that you discover in so-called Western city graffiti/Street Art scenes.
Of course the language and tags are likely in Chinese and the honored pop culture figures are more likely to be Chinese film stars, like this new digitized stencil by Street Artist 0907 of Hongshen Jia (贾宏声).
“He is my favorite Chinese film actor and he is a legendary actor in China,” the artist tells us. On the Wikipedia page about the actor it says, “His performances were praised by critics and he developed a rebellious image that made him popular among artistic youth and the “Sixth Generation” of Chinese directors.” Struggling with addiction many times, he took his own life in 2010 and he is also slowly transforming into a kind of folk hero for some.
Chinese Street Artist Elephant 0907 has sent us his latest work that he says addresses child labor in the 1880s. In fact many children were working at factories across the Western World during the Industrial Revolution, resulting in many injuries and death of children, aside from the hazardous and sometimes cruel conditions that they worked under.
It’s an odd piece of history that is remembered in the US because, depending on where you hear it, you might have thought that it was the only cruelty to children taking place at the time. For indentured servants brought to the US and forced to repay their trip through years of labor, the hardships were recorded as well. For slaves and children of slaves whose labor was forced, the story was an ongoing horror.
If only slavery had been abolished and we could speak about it comfortably in the past. There have been documented factories throughout the world that are basically labor camps. Today in 2018, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery.
Although modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term covering practices such as forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. The United Nations says that there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world.
Street Artist 0907 is somewhere in China today with this new multiples stencil of Jean Michel Basquiat as shot by Andy Warhol. If you had a doubt about the global appreciation of these artists on the street, here’s at least one answer.
A few new painted wheat-pastes in the urban rubble from Street Artist ROBBBB in Beijing, China today, including this thoughtful, reflective and paunchy Spiderman who may not be able to scale walls quite as readily as he has in the past.
It almost looks like these superheroes are having various existential dillemas, ready to fly into a rage of frustration or simply break into hot firey tears. The whole infallibility thing is overrated anyway Spidey, we get what you are saying.
I’m trying to discuss the contradiction between the ideal and the reality from the point of view of human nature,” says ROBBBB, and that is a worthwhile pursuit. It may make you wonder why we need heroes in the first place and examine what need they are filling.
New images today of a red panda painted by artist Louis Masai in Shanghai. The quilt piece covered animal rises from street level with an endangered bee nearby ready to stitch him together. The image is familiar to anyone familiar with Masai’s work of publicizing species who are endangered around the world.
His first time in Asia, the Londoner says he was impressed with the trucks washing and cleaning the streets twice a day in Shanghai while he was painting. He also says air quality was quite challenging. When he wasn’t painting he did a bit of sightseeing as well.
“There are pockets of city life protected for the tourists and they have great historical value,” says Masai. “They are stunning with the Yu Garden in particular showcasing a fine example of indoor and outdoor living working in perfect harmony.” But much of Masai’s work is about animals threatened by our disharmonious ways.
He says he chose the red panda as a focal point because of its endangered status in China due primarily to deforestation and destruction of its natural habitat. “There are many reasons for their decline; from overpopulating humans, to canine disease. Perhaps the worst impacting factor is deforestation,” he says.
“Pandas mostly eat bamboo and the lack of growth after the flowering season, due to increased deforestation, leaves the pandas with a severe lack of food.”
Beijing based Street Artist ROBBBB continues to bring people to the streets in his city by way of self portraits and art models. The immediacy of the selfie and photo apps has rather eclipsed the traditional methods of figurative presentation and the inclusion of cartoon characters tells you that ROBBBB is fully immersed in youth pop culture where it digital and virtual are easily intertwined with real life.
“I try to show the pain, conflict, struggle, loneliness and anxiety of Chinese young people in a absurd way,” he tells us, but many of these new images look like they depict a Millennial generation that is confident, bold, humorous, adventurous, unreserved. But that’s just on this side of the screen.
Here are three recent wheat-paste campaigns he made for abandoned Beijing buildings called “Narrow Selfie,” “Three Sisters”, and “Mr. Lee”. He gets extra points for placement, often in direct relationship to the man-made elements that are adjacent to his figures and by doing so, incorporating them into the overall composition.
His two-story headless figure drew plenty of stares as he hand painted for two days in a rapidly developing neighborhood full of new construction.
“For me it was a chance to continue my recent exploration regarding Chinese patterns and traditional objects but most importantly to try to paint completely freestyle using only an extension pole,” he tells us. “Surely the influence of some Taoist readings I have been doing lately is quite evident – both in the subject and in the choice of going freestyle with a technique that doesn’t allow a high level of detail.”
Filial piety (Xiao Jing) is one of the virtues of Confucian thought (孝): a love and respect for one’s parents and ancestors. In the West we talk of filial piety in the context of fraternal love, indeed all benevolent actions.
Street Artist ROBBBB in Beijing is contemplating, as most of us do in our 20s, what his connection is to his society and his family and ancestors especially as a representative of the future as well as the past. One aspect that stays more or less the same in every culture is what our bodies look like, even if our clothing and hairstyles are in a continuous evolution. Today our bodies are changing as well thanks to plastic surgery and additive technology.
With this essential self examination ROBBB brings it up to date with his own Street Art campaign called “Selfie foreward”, a series of painted portions of his own body wheat-pasted on the streets. He segments the view of his corpus, giving a closer examination of physical details down to the follicle texture, augmented by an abstractly patterned wrapping across the surface that looks like projected light waves or an ultra-thin metal-alloy plating of decorative skin. Perhaps ROBBBB is seeing himself as a cyborg of organic and biomechatronic body parts.
“This series is about my body,” ROBBBB says, “There is an old saying China that goes “Our bodies-to every hair and bit of skin – are received from our parents.” In any case, he says, with this very original take on the relatively modern selfie, “I’ve been thinking deeply about contradictions and conflicts between youth as a social group and my place in society.”