All posts tagged: Fintan Magee

Fintan Magee & Guido Van Helten in Tehran : “The Carpet Repairmen”

Fintan Magee & Guido Van Helten in Tehran : “The Carpet Repairmen”

Welcome to January 2 and you may be feeling a little more lethargic as you go through your duties today, looking askance at the empty bottles, stray glitter, the new rip in the rug. Yes, there is some damage to the carpet from all that dancing you and your Aunt Francine and cousin Ozzie were doing as the clock struck twelve!

Guess that is why it is called “cutting the rug”.

Fintan Magee & Guido Van Helten. ‘The Carpet Repairmen”. Tehran, Iran. (photo courtesy of the artists)

No worries, we’re bringing in the ‘The Carpet Repairmen’, a new large scale mural collaboration between Australian Street Artists Guido Van Helten and Fintan Magee that they finished as a commission recently in Tehran, Iran. Meant to mark the 50th anniversary of the Australian Embassy in Iran, the current US president naturally ruined the timing of the celebration of peace and goodwill by putting more sanctions on the country and tension on the event, say the artists.

As one may expect, mural making in Middle Eastern countries has often been reserved for politics anyway; with propagandist messages, murals of martyrs, images recalling war, political leaders. Van Helten and Magee concentrate instead on the valued talents of the carpet makers – a history and work of pride that no one can argue with.

Fintan Magee & Guido Van Helten. ‘The Carpet Repairmen”. Tehran, Iran. (photo courtesy of the artists)

They tell us:

“This mural is based on images of two carpet repairmen working in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar. Persian carpets are famous world wide for their quality and craftsmanship. Then men work 8-10 hours each day rethreading and stitching old and damaged carpets, the repetitive work requires incredible hand skills and speed. This painting pays homage to the dignity of hard work while putting a human face to an important aspect of craft and culture in Persia.

The painting ‘The Carpet Repairmen’ also act’s as a broader metaphor for working life in Iran. Decades of economic sanctions and blockades on imports and have meant that people have to be resourceful in the country. Reusing, repairing and recycling products has become a necessity. Showing the resilience of the Iranian people and how life goes on in this hospitable, welcoming and ancient culture.”

Fintan Magee & Guido Van Helten. ‘The Carpet Repairmen”. Tehran, Iran. (photo courtesy of the artists)

 

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BSA Images Of The Week: 09.30.18 – UPEA Special

BSA Images Of The Week: 09.30.18 – UPEA Special

BSA-Images-Week-Jan2015

This week we have a selection of the UPEART festivals’ two previous editions of murals – which we were lucky to see this week after driving across the country in an old VW Bora. We hit 8 cities and drove along the border with Russia through some of the most picturesque forests and farmlands that you’ll likely see just to collect images of the murals that this Finnish mural festival has produced with close consultation with Fins in these neighborhoods. A logistical challenge to accomplish, we marvel at how this widespread program is achieved – undoubtedly due to the passion of director Jorgos Fanaris and his insatiable curiosity for discovering talents and giving them a platform for expression.

So here is a sample from what we found from UPEART’s two previous iterations before the recently completed UPEART 2018.

So here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Apolo Torres, Artz, Dulk, Espoo, Fintan Magee, Guido Van Helten, Pat Perry, Smug, Teemu Maenpaa, Tellas, and Telmo & Miel.

Top Image: Millo. UPEA 2017. Jyväskylä, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Telmo & Miel. UPEA 2017. Joensuu, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Telmo & Miel. UPEA 2017. Joensuu, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fintan Magee. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fintan Magee. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

SMUG. UPEA 2017. Kotka, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

SMUG. UPEA 2017. Kotka, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

 

Guido van Helten. UPEA 2016. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Guido van Helten. UPEA 2016. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Pat Perry. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Pat Perry. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Teemu Mäenpää. UPEA 2017. Espoo, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Dulk. UPEA 2017. Espoo, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Apolo Torres. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Apolo Torres. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Artez. UPEA 2017. Espoo, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tellas. UPEA 2016. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Street Artists At Munich Museum Present the Portrait, “IMAGO” Curated by Elisabetta Pajer

Street Artists At Munich Museum Present the Portrait, “IMAGO” Curated by Elisabetta Pajer

From cave carvings in Angoulême in western France 27,000 years ago to your daily, perhaps hourly selfie on a cell phone today, our desire to depict the figure is as much a reflection of the artist and their times as it’s sitter.

A new show at MUCA Munich (Museum of Urban Contemporary Art) opening today invites 30 primarily Street Artists to choose a significant reference portrait of any historical time, country of origin, or artistic movement and interpret their inspirations into a portrait.

Whether drawing influences from Vermeer, Courbet, or Lucien Freud, each artist ultimately represents their own life experiences in their choice of subject and the technique of portrayal. Perhaps that is why curator Elisabetta Pajer has asked each of the artists to give us a statement with their work to help put it into context. Pajer tells us that she looks at the collection of works and the statements create a ‘harmonic mosaic’ of these figurative and written testimonies.

“These artists have sought out inspiration from many mediums that portraiture finds itself interpreted within,” says Pajer. “Taking their themes and inspiration from classical paintings, sculpture, film, theater, photographer, interactions, culture, religion, and science. Exhibiting a great understanding of the complexity of self-reflection with art as the catalyst.”

We’re pleased to be able to present some of the artists and their own words here.


Andreas Englund

Andreas Englund. Tripping. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

TRIPPING
Media: Oil on canvas
Size: 116 x 90 cm
 
-Statement
“I chose to tribute my artwork to the ‘‘Portrait of a smoking man’’ by Anders Zorn 1860-1920 – Swedens most internationally acclaimed artist. Born in my home region and very inspirational when it comes to his sketchy technique. By doing my own version of this masterpiece with my superhero, I have learned more about ‘‘the great Zorn’’ and his technique.”

Martha Cooper

Martha Cooper. Futura 1983. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

FUTURA 1983
Media: Archival pigment print
Size: 50,8 x 76,20 cm

 
-Statement
“This is a 1983 photo of Futura, a legendary New York City graffiti writer, with a classic can of Krylon spray paint. Thirty-five years later, Futura is still spray painting and I am still taking photos of graffiti writers.”

Icy + Sot

Icy & Sot. Under The Water Light. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artists)

UNDER THE WATER LIGHT
Media: Stencil spray paint on canvas
Size: 91,5 x 123 cm
 
-Statement
“This portrait is part a series we created reflecting on the relationship between human and nature. Nature plays a big role in human lifespan, but nowadays people have distanced from nature. With this work, we want to show humans closer to nature and pay a tribute to it.”

Swoon

Swoon. Thalassa. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

THALASSA
Media: Screenprint on paper with coffee stain and hand painting with collage mounted on board
Size: 123 × 138 cm
 
-Statement
“The name Thalassa is Greek word for ‘‘ocean’’, a primordial incarnation of the sea that is not often personified. Thalassa is said to have given birth to all tribes of fish in the sea. She is the pull of the sea that comes from inside the salt water in our blood. ‘Thalassa was originally created for New Orleans. It was the months after the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf in 2010, and this body of water that I’d loved since I was a child was in peril. As I drew Thalassa surging up from the water I felt her rising like a wake up call, one reminds us of our inseparability from the sea. When I stand in front of the ocean, the word that always appears first in my mind is “mother”. For me there is no mistaking the sense that the sea is our first mother.’ ”

Borondo

Gonzalo Borondo & Diego Lopez Bueno. Selfie Elvis II. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo © Blind Eye Factory)

GONZALO BORONDO & DIEGO LOPEZ BUENO
SELFIE ELVIS II
Media: Acrylic and plaster on wood – Plasma TV 50’’- Video on loop – 16:9 Digital – Color
Size: 7 panels each – 120 x 70 x 1 cm + 1 TV
 
-Statement
“Inspired by several passport photos found within the Marseilles “Marché aux Puches” (FR), Borondo and Lopez Bueno have designed an installation project with the title “Selfie Elvis II”. Imagination is the basis of the multimedia work with self-portraits of a man recalling the contemporary “selfie”. There are dozens of frames describing human aspects and obsessions. They have been digitally elaborated and assembled in a video by López Bueno. Borondo portrayed Elvis with acrylic on wood and applying gypsum, then scratched with sharp instruments. Faces appeared by subtraction, the absence tells about an ancestral and intangible dimension, wondering about its existence. Is Elvis looking at himself or us in that picture? And what about our images, do they look like us or they are just our dreams? Elvis is not there, Elvis is still there.”

Addison Karl

Addison Karl. Kamassa. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

KAMASSA
Media: Bronze, edition 1 of 10
Size: 30,48 x 20,32 x 15,24 cm
 
 
-Statement
“Portraiture in context to sculpture and form – referencing the masterpieces from both European Classical and Neoclassical time periods. From a culture l mirror of taking inspiration from Gods and Goddess of the ancient world, my sculpture’s subject is focused on a contemporary Chickasaw Elder. Using portraiture as a means of Cultural Preservation but equally re-appropriating classic sensibilities of art history to a Native Cultural narrative. “

 


Various & Gould

Various & Gould. Trigger (Rokhaya Diallo). IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artists)

TRIGGER (ROKHAYA DIALLO)
Media: Acrylic on canvas
Size: 200 x 140 cm
-Statement
“Our portrait of Rokhaya Diallo refers to an iconic work by Nikide Saint Phalle: The artistically revised film still “Daddy” shows the artist pointing a gun directly at the viewer. Even almost 50 years later, her eye and the muzzle of her rifle leave no doubt that she is serious about it. Anyone who sees the work feels immediately like coming into the firing line.
In our painting, the French journalist and film maker Rokhaya Diallo takes the place and – freely recreated – also the pose of Niki de Saint Phalle. Thus, an early feministic, vigorous artist of the twentieth century is followed by a modern, committed internet feminist with no less strong verve than her predecessor. Both women are even the same age at the time of the illustration. Only instead of the rifle, Rokhaya Diallo relies on her very own “weapon”, the hashtag. At first glance, it may seem more harmless than a rifle, but in times of #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo it can be an even more powerful tool.”

 


Fintan Magee

Fintan Magee The Removalist. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

THE REMOVALIST
Media: Canvas and acrylic on wall installation
 
-Statement
“The portrait has been ripped off the canvas and dragged across the ground and projected onto the wall. The artist has destroyed the canvas and made the portrait ephemeral, rendering it worthless and unsellable. The work comments on the commodification of artwork and the uneasy and paradoxical relationship between artist and the financier of his artworks. With street art becoming increasingly commoditized and contributing to gentrification this work doesn’t aim to make any grand statements on how art should or shouldn’t be produced, only highlight the illusionary, absurdist and contradictory image the art industry presents of itself.”

VHILS

VHILS. Matta. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

MATTA
Media: Bas-relief carving on plasterboard mounted on metal structure
Size: 181 x 120,5 x 34 cm
 
-Statement

“Resorting to a bas-relief carving technique, applied here to a free-standing structure of plasterboard, this piece is a homage to the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, which became a major influence on me after I first saw it at an exhibition in Portugal, in 2002. Matta-Clark was one of the first artists to look at the urban space as a space of creation and reflection on the human condition in the contemporary times we live in. Those are the considerations I try to translate in my own work too, reflecting about the human condition in the contemporary times we live in.”


Andrea Wan

Andrea Wan. Being Of Light. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

BEING OF LIGHT
Media: Ink on paper
Size: 50 x 70 cm
 
-Statement

“Fascinated by the lively and dynamic landscape in the paintings of native Canadian Artist Emily Carr, I chose one of her most renown works, Indian Church (1929) as the subject of reinterpretation. Seemingly more accurate than a realistic approach, Carr’s abstraction of nature elements not only communicated to me that nature is vast and subliminal but also ever-changing in form and expression. The white church which stands calmly in the midst of the mystical environment inspired me to personify the subject as a being who is in tune with all that’s around her.”


DALeast

DALeast. FIII. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

FIII
Media: Acrylic on canvas
Size: 100 x 80 cm
 
-Statement
“A still moment of Fiii standing in the windy land, which is existing inside the transitory gathering of the particles of the magical net.”

IMAGO: A History of Portraits opens today at MUCA Museum of Urban And Contemporary Art. Munich. Curated by Elisabetta Pajer the show runs until November 2018.

IMAGO is a show dedicated to the history of portrait: over 30 artists from five different continents are invited to pay homage and interpret a portrait in their medium of their choice. IMAGO aims to lead visitors through different artistic eras, helping discover the international history and evolution of the portrait.

Artists include:

Jef Aerosol
ASKEW ONE
Borondo
Vesod Brero
Martha Cooper
DALeast
Paola Delfin
Anna Piera Di Silvestre
Andreas Englund
Evoca 1
Ricky Lee Gordon
Hubertus Hamm
Handiedan
Icy&Sot
Addison Karl
Know Hope
Klone Yourself
Fintan Magee
Mario Mankey
Marco Mazzoni
Antony Micallef
Miss Van
Nychos
Sepe
David Shillinglaw
Søren Solkær
Sten Lex
SWOON
TelmoMiel
TWOONE

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Fintan Magee: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

Fintan Magee: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2017 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s an assortment of treats to surprise you with every day – to enjoy and contemplate as we all reflect on the year that has passed and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2018. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to each of you for inspiring us throughout the year.

*******

Brisbane-based realist Fintan Magee has been nailing tall walls around the world this year with technical precision and an extraordinary appreciation for our ordinary lives. We had the privilege of seeing him in action in Scotland, Sweden and Tahiti this year and each time we realized that he’s undaunted by the scale of a job, in love with the process of painting. He is also completely dedicated to speaking to the profound issues of our time including global warming, sea levels rising, our refugee crises worldwide, and natural resource preservation and management. Carrying the water theme, Fintan shares with us one of his favorite pieces of the year in Instanbul.


FINTAN MAGEE

I chose this one because it was a new aesthetic for me and Istanbul was easily my favourite city that I have visited this year. I also wanted to thank Mural Istanbul for being amazing hosts and all the locals who looked after me.

Fintan Magee. Istanbul, Turkey. June, 2017. (photo © Fintan Magee)

 

Fintan Magee

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Murals Across Finland: UPEA ’17 Sweeps More Cities

Murals Across Finland: UPEA ’17 Sweeps More Cities

From the country with the highest standard of living comes a country-wide mural festival called UPEA for 2017! Only in their second year, they are going big here at home.

Messy Desk. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Markus Hänninen)

Okay, the murals are not in every city of this Scandinavian country, but if lead curator and visionary (and former graffiti writer) Jorgos Fanaris realizes his vision, there will be even more than the 40 or so murals the festival has already put up over the last two years in cities like Helsinki, Riihimäki, Kemi, Kotka, Espoo, Turku, and Hyvinkää.

Yes, some of the current international circuit of mural stars are here. So are a stunning selection of Finnish talents and less recognizeable names, making this a conscientious formulation that respects the culture and highlights the global movement simultaneously.

 

Guido Van Helten. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Erho Aalto)

Like many of today’s mural festivals and far from their illegal Street Art/graffitti roots, many of UPEA 17 are mega-murals; multi-story and sophisticated images borrowing from many strains of art history and popular culture – even conceptual art – as much as anything else.

These and other signs of curatorial/organization maturity are not typically hallmarks of two year old festivals, and we could provide a list of rookie mistakes that have plagued others we’ve covered over the last decade. This is probably because UPEA 17 is the result of many years of on-the-ground organizing experience and street culture knowledge – and multiple false starts and obstacles that blocked organizers in the years leading up to last years inaugural outdoor exhibition. People on the ground will tell you that logistics and costs and bureaucracy and local politics are always factors to pull off a festival well. In our experience, so is time.

 

Teemu Mäenpää. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

We were lucky to have an extensive interview with Jorgos Fanaris about this years successes, the challenges along the way, and his roots in the scene.

Brooklyn Street Art: How is UPEA 2017 different from the first edition?
Jorgos Fanaris: Compared to UPEA16, UPEA17 was of course much bigger. More artists and more projects, but also bigger projects. The first edition was more of testing the concept and feeling around what we could do. The second edition was really about making an impact, letting everyone know about UPEA as an event that creates notable art in public spaces, that we are serious and we are here to stay.

Millo. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (Photo © John Blåfield)

Brooklyn Street Art: You had an incredibly wide variety of artists painting: From large scale realist portraiture, to surrealism to cartoons, landscape etc…is there a specific style that resonates better with the public?
Jorgos Fanaris: The amount of talented artists that have already participated in UPEA in the first two years, is humbling to say the least. We are very privileged and honored to have had them.

If I evaluate the response the artworks have received from the public, I think raising a specific style in a position that it somehow communicates more with the audience wouldn’t be right. For example if we think realistic portraiture and classic style of Guido van Helten, its easy for anyone to understand that this is technically really difficult to execute in this scale. This year in Hämeenlinna we did the 56m high silos, which of course by the sheer size is something that makes people go “Whooaaaa, how can he do that? We must go and see”.

 

Dulk. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

The project gathered and still gathers spectators in huge numbers. During the project there were traffic jams in the area on Sundays. On the other hand in Lahti, the artist named Messy Desks did the crazy cartoon style piece that has million things happening. It created a huge buzz and received a lot of response from people. She was getting gifts from people from the area and was taken out for formal dinners after for appreciation and show of gratitude. Kids are ecstatic about it, knocking on the “doors” and “windows” trying to get someone to open.

At the same time, the second wall we did in Lahti with Roberto Ciredz, a surrealistic piece with total harmony, which by no accident is totally different from Messy Desks wall, was voted as people’s favorite of the two in local newspaper. There are so many things that contribute the overall feedback. I think every style and approach has its place and purpose.

Brooklyn Street Art: Murals become part of a neighborhood, part of the storytelling and lifetime benchmark associations and memories people have – as well as part of the fabric and character of a city. How has the festival been received by the people whose daily lives will be impacted with the presence of the murals?
Jorgos Fanaris: The artworks created a lot of excitement and grassroots movement in their own areas and communities. In Kontula Helsinki, the triple walls by Fintan Magee, Apolo Torres and Pat Perry encouraged the residents to do a “night of arts” event for the unveiling of the artworks. They had food, live music, fire performance and other artistic activities. Over 1500 people attended and possibly the event will continue next year.

 

Eero Lampinen. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © Henrik Dagnevall)

In Espoo Matinkylä, where Artez did a great piece, the residents organized an celebration event with huge number of activities, dozens of performances and speakers, about thousand people attending the event. In Kotka, where Smug did the amazing wall right in the city centre, the city made an official unveiling for the wall by closing the street and having a horn orchestra perform. Hundreds of people attended even though it was on a Friday during the work hours.

These are just few examples. We saw a lot of these type of things grow from the artworks we did this year.. We see that street art gets reactions from people who might not be too involved with art in general, like going to the galleries for example. The artworks are a refreshing injection into the community and it’s super exiting for us to see things starting grow from them.

Onur. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © John Blåfield-Valmis)

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you get support from community and city officials for the festival?
Jorgos Fanaris: Yes, we are working with the officials in every city we are in. The support has been great, possibly due to the fact that we have been able to create an event this size with fairly limited organization and funding.

Still the way we execute different projects really varies. Regardless of how much the city is involved, the permits, which are always a big thing in Finland, are handled by their own unit inside the city. In some cases the city assists us in the permit process and it can be very helpful. But also in many cases we handle the whole process completely. From searching locations and handling all the permits and other things all the way to executing the artwork. The range is very wide on different projects. Still, the city is involved and even if we are doing permits and related responsibilities ourselves, it helps that they are officially supporting the project in the background. Everyone has a common goal to make the project happen and in a positive spirit they work towards that goal together.

Onur. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © John Blåfield-Valmis)

Brooklyn Street Art: What drives you to make this festival happen? What is the motivation? The incentive?
Jorgos Fanaris: Upeart is a collective of people from various backgrounds; from graffiti, city development to event organizing and more. I think the motivation varies depending on who you ask. But in general, it’s about interest in the possibilities art has in public spaces. The vision to push for ambitious ideas, pushing limits further and willingness to take chances.

I personally, have a graffiti background from late 80’s to beginning of the new millennium. When I painted myself, I was mainly, especially in the later years, interested in graffiti as a tool in getting reactions from ordinary people by using public space or things that move in that space. At some point, I moved away from actively painting and started working in music projects, doing shows and stuff like that.

During those years, Finland gradually started to dismantle the very strict zero tolerance on graffiti and street art they had imposed in the country for years. Many youth and grassroot organizations worked years relentlessly on it and it started finally to show some results around 2008. At some point, I thought the time would be right to start something like this. Do it seriously and professionally. We actually tried to start an ambitious project like UPEA for few years, but it was difficult. We had of course no money at all and with that also no guarantees about anything.

 

Ricky Lee-Gordon. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Rikupekka Lappalainen)

Then we tried to get a group of people together with the same goal to work on the project. With 3-4 people each contributing a little, combined, it creates an effort big enough to start an interesting thing – on paper at least. It proved to be very difficult. We had actually two tries that failed to make any progress.

We came together with a couple of people, agreed about the goal and how we should work towards it. But when it came down to doing real work for it – nothing much occurred. To me it was really strange. I feel that we wasted a lot of time and energy of course, and it was really frustrating. But eventually, probably after three years or something from the original idea, Upeart started to come together and this time with people who have the drive and are actually willing to work for it. So finally, the organization and the event UPEA was born on the third try.

Brooklyn Street Art: This is a very young festival, only two editions. Did you look at other festivals as an inspiration for UPEA?
Jorgos Fanaris: Yes, of course. You look around other festivals and different things that people do everywhere for ideas. I personally think that there are a lot of new and exciting things happening in several places around the globe. That’s why keeping your eyes open and trying to learn from everything is important. You see things and think, wow that’s so cool, could we do something like that? You add your own ideas in to it and it changes to something else.

Wasp Elder. UPEA Festival  2017. Finland. (photo © Matti Nurmi)

It’s a notable fact that UPEA is so young, like a little baby. We are not there yet and have huge task ahead of us on refining the concept. Already this year we wanted to do several other things besides murals, but we just didn’t have the resources to execute. But its ok, things always need time. The organization needs to grow, the concept needs to be refined and we need to build up our personal networks and several other things. In this process of maturing and finding the way for you, it helps if you see what else is going on around the world.

Brooklyn Street Art: What distinguishes UPEA from other European Street Art Festivals?
Jorgos Fanaris: I guess one obvious thing compared to many others, is that UPEA is a multicity event held all over the country. Finland is a small country, only 5 million people and the biggest city the capitol Helsinki, has only 1 million. When we thought about the concept, we really had to think about what will happen when we do a large number of big artworks and how it progresses when we do this year after year. We thought we would need serious space to execute on the level that we want year after year.

Apolo Torres. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © Anna Vlasoff)

One thing of course also is that we have seriously big projects, especially on the second edition this year.

Considering we had the 56m high silos, triple side by side 8 story buildings, a complete house on all four sides and several single big 6-8 story buildings and so on, the sizes of the projects were huge. However now that we are looking forward at upcoming years, I think UPEA will become more and more original and mature to something very unique. Also one thing is, that several artists have told me, UPEA is one of the best organized events they have participated in. True or not (I think they are nice and say that in every event), I think this a proper note to end an interview!

Telmo & Miel. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Antti Ryynänen)

Telmo & Miel. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Antti Ryynänen)

Rustam Qbic. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Rustam Qbic. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Artez. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Kaukolehto)

Andrea Wan. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Jorma Simonen)

Smug. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tommi Mattila)

Vesod. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Anssi Huovinen)

Vesod. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Anssi Huovinen)

Roberto Ciredz. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Markus Hänninen)

Jussi27. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Anssi Huovinen)

Pat Perry. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Fintan Magee. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Jani Leinonen. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Logos or graffiti tags? Jani Leinonen. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

 

 

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Fintan Magee and “Follow the Leader” in South of Paris

Fintan Magee and “Follow the Leader” in South of Paris

Back to the south of Paris today to see a trio of children on the new wall done in late September by Sydney based muralist Fintan Magee.

Fintan Magee. For Wall Street Art in Savigny-le-Temple, France. September 2017. (photo © Mathgoth Gallery – Paris)

“He asked 3 young people to come with winter clothes and he took photos,” says Gautier Jourdain, who organized the wall for his Wall Street Art festival, as well as the solo art show for Fintan at his Galerie Mathgoth.

“Follow the Leader” appears to be a commentary on the current obsessive behavior of humans toward their phones, even the little ones. Placed on a wall in the center of the city very near the railway station, the 22 x 18 meter mural in Savigny-le-Temple is sure to capture the attention of commuters…if they look up from their phones long enough.

 

Fintan Magee. For Wall Street Art in Savigny-le-Temple, France. September 2017. (photo © Mathgoth Gallery – Paris)

Fintan Magee. For Wall Street Art in Savigny-le-Temple, France. September 2017. (photo © Mathgoth Gallery – Paris)

Fintan Magee. For Wall Street Art in Savigny-le-Temple, France. September 2017. (photo © Mathgoth Gallery – Paris)

Fintan Magee. For Wall Street Art in Savigny-le-Temple, France. September 2017. (photo © Mathgoth Gallery – Paris)

Fintan Magee. For Wall Street Art in Savigny-le-Temple, France. September 2017. (photo © Mathgoth Gallery – Paris)

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BSA Images Of The Week: 10.22.17

BSA Images Of The Week: 10.22.17

BSA-Images-Week-Jan2015

Absent worries that the banks and oligarchs are poised to crash our economy into the ground and that the privatized profiteering war machine wants Trump to start WWIII its been a fantastic and sunny and crisp warm week in New York.  Of course the city is a little more somber since the Yankees missed their chance at the World Series last night. In the spirit of sportspersonship we wish the best to the Astros.

Aside from new street art pieces going up on the street JPO had an opening at Wall Works in the Bronx, Bezt was at Spoke Art, Royce Bannon and Matt Siren had Ember City, Philipe Pantone was at GR Gallery, Dusty Rebel is launching his “Street Cuts” App Monday, and we’re just getting a look at the new show we’re co-curating for VINZ Feel Free in a couple of weeks.

Speaking of Pantone, the two walls he did this week were strong and optically dizzying/thrilling as you would expect – while the subtley more sophisticated walls were inside for Planned Iridescence near by at the GR Gallery on Bowery. The big wall done with The L.I.S.A. Project presented several technical and material difficulties which the artist eventually solved but not without having to spend a whole lot more of time on it than originally estimated: a remarkable feat, even if the wall itself isn’t a large one compared to many others he’s executed around the world. Sure enough it got the New York welcome from a graffiti artist who took the liberty to vandalize it under the cover of darkness and on the very same night of the opening party for his show.

We have grown accustomed to see the artworks by Street Artists and muralists in public vandalized, disrespected and gone over. We don’t know what justification or reasons a graffiti writer has when tagging a well executed wall and the so-called “rules” on the street depend on who’s telling them. It is interesting that the color fits right into the palette, almost as if the tagger found an unspent can that had been left on the sidewalk nearby.

Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Arrex Skulls, Bunny M, City Kitty, D7606, Dain, Felipe Pantone, Fintan Magee, Gods in Love, Megzany, RUN, Stikman, Stray Ones, and Thrashbird.

Top image: Felipe Pantone in collaboration with The L.I.S.A. Project NYC in Little Italy, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Felipe Pantone in collaboration with The L.I.S.A. Project NYC in Little Italy, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Felipe Pantone in collaboration with The L.I.S.A. Project NYC in Little Italy, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Andrew Tarlow (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Dain in collaboration with The L.I. S.A. Project NYC in Little Italy, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Strayones (photo © Jaime Rojo)

bunny M (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Gods In Love in Cerignola, Italy. (photo © Gods In Love)

The Street Artist who goes by the name Gods in Love did this mural in the San Samuele district of Cerignola, Italy last month. He says that this part of the city is called “Fort Apache” by the locals – an indirect reference to the 1981 movie (and 1976 book) about a crime-ridden neighborhood in the Bronx during the 1960s-70s. The Native American tribe named The Apache that preceded the European’s arrival who lived/live in the mid-western part of this continent were known for being fierce warriors – thus the connotation with a violent proud, yet financially destitute, neighborhood in The Bronx, New York.

“A totem is a natural or supernatural entity that has a particular symbolic meaning for a person or tribe, and to whom it feels bound throughout life,” explains the artist. The term derives from the word ototeman used by the Native American people Ojibway. My choice of working on this figure arises from the need to create an image that can be symbolic of belonging to a neighborhood to a group, a symbol of belonging to the protection of the offspring and therefore of the future, a need for legality and correctness to fight or understand, integrating and accepting it, the illness stemmed from the discomfort of life in a changing neighborhood, willing to redeem. Mine is a metaphor, a symbol in which the neighborhood can fully recognize.”

Thrashbird (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

RUN in Anacona, Italy. (photo © RUN)

City Kitty in collaboration with D7606 and Arrex Skulls. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Megzany (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fintan Magee in Raiatea, French Polynesia for ONO’U Tahiti 2017. (photo © Jean Ozonder)

Untitled. Busker in the NYC Subway. October 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BSA Images Of The Week: 09.10.17 “No Limit” Borås Special

BSA Images Of The Week: 09.10.17 “No Limit” Borås Special

BSA-Images-Week-Jan2015

Welcome to Sunday! This week we have a special edition of BSA Images of the Week; Dedicated to “No Limit” in Boras 2017.

Begun on the initiative of Street Artist Shai Dahan, the No Limit festival in Borås Sweden is a nice respite in a quiet, somewhat conservative town of pleasant people where all the shops close by six and the streets are empty by ten. With the initiative and vision of Dahan, three editions of “No Limit” have brought a varied roster of more than 30 Street Artists and muralists and installation artists into the downtown area and thrilled the tour groups and looky-loos who follow the trail discovering new artworks.

Playing toward the center and knowingly delighting the audience, the full collection also boasts a few great eclectic names and actual forward-looking leaders on the Street Art/ Contemporary Art continuum. Thanks to Dahan’s sharp eye and knowledge of who to bring, it is a well-rounded collection that compliments the city and yet represents the independent-thinking iconoclastic nature of today’s art on the streets.

Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Anonymouse, Bordalo II, Christina Angelina, Fintan Magee, Gemma O’Brien, Hot Tea, JM Rizzi, Lakwena, Lonac, Nespoon, and Telmo & Miel.

Top image:  Bordalo II. No Limit Boras 2017. Boras, Sweden. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bordalo II.Detail. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fintan Magee. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fintan Magee. Detail. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fintan Magee. Detail. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Hot Tea. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Telmo Miel. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Telmo Miel. Detail. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Telmo Miel. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

JM Rizzi. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

JM Rizzi. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lonac. Detail. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lonac. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

NeSpoon at work on her wall. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

NeSpoon. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Gemma O’Brien. Detail. No Limit Boras 2017. Boras, Sweden. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Gemma O’Brien. No Limit Boras 2017. Boras, Sweden. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Anonymouse. No Limit Boras 2017. Boras, Sweden. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Anonymouse. No Limit Boras 2017. Boras, Sweden. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Anonymouse. No Limit Boras 2017. Boras, Sweden. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Anonymouse. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Anonymouse. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Anonymouse. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Christina Angelina. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Fintan Magee, Lonac in Process at No Limit/Borås: Dispatch 1

Fintan Magee, Lonac in Process at No Limit/Borås: Dispatch 1

This week BSA is in Borås, a municipality in south-western Sweden for the 3rd edition of No Limit, a mural arts festival that brings Street Artists from around the world to create new works on walls of the city, in the process enlivening public space and creating new ways for this historic textile merchant town to engage passersby with their city.


“No Limit” 2017 is just getting underway here in Borås. Fintan Magee is the first out of the gate with a large wall overlooking the Viskan river which winds it’s way through this southwestern town in Sweden. Artists have been arriving in Goteborg from around the world and getting a ride 40 minute ride to Boras by car with a friendly volunteer who offers to transport these honored international visitors.

Lonac. Work in progress. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We immediately hit the clean streets with some serious jetlag and without luggage (it will follow later no doubt) to see the walls with artist and organizer Shai Dahan, who started the “No Limit” mural arts festival in 2014 to bring his friends in the Street Art world to this friendly and welcoming city known more for its textile industry than its graffiti scene.

First we headed to a demonstration of Afghani immigrants who were gathered in the main square here to give speeches and display handmade signs protesting a proposal to send these relatively new emigres back to Afghanistan because some in the government contend that the country is safe enough for them to return.

Lonac. Work in progress. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A couple of the guys standing in the assembly told us that most Afghani’s would disagree with that assessment and felt that returning to their original country would be dangerous to them. We took some photos of the signs and made our way to see Fintan’s work-in-progress wall of a local Swedish woman set atop winter branches, elevated into the sky. He had already stopped painting for the day so we set out to find Lonac.

The artist Lonac, from Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia that is more than 10 times the size of Borås, was just finishing up his work for the day on a huge portrait of a guy whom we didn’t recognize, so we talked to him about it. A fine artist whose realism sometimes slides into surrealism, the sharp-witted aerosol musician tells us that his new painting is a tribute to the graffiti writers whose work gave birth to much of the modern Street Art scene, including this guy in this new painting.

Fintan Magee. Work in progress. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“He is a graffiti writer from Zagreb. Sometimes we also paint together,” Lonac says, “So for this wall I chose to paint him because mostly I paint people who I know. I like to use them for stories I want to tell, whether it is pictures or paintings or murals it makes sense for me to paint someone that I know. I started doing it about three years ago. It is a big challenge to paint somebody who is real, not from your head, because eventually that person will see it. So I work more and more to make the painting realistic, to create the personality of the person who I want to paint.”

BSA: You are putting a lot of pressure on yourself by doing that – painting a contemporary.
Lonac: Yes, but no, no, I like it. This way I feel that the wall doesn’t only have to do with me. It has to do with somebody else. That’s what I’m trying to do.

Fintan Magee. Work in progress. No Limit/Borås 2017. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: So when you think of him, what do you think of?
Lonac: He is one of the main guys in the graffiti scene in Zagreb. When I started painting I wasn’t so close to those guys and now since I have been painting more and more I am becoming more understanding of this other part of our culture. Until now I mostly only did paintings. So its mostly about honoring other people who are also doing some type of art and acknowledging that they are also painting, even though I am not close to that kind of painting.

BSA: What would you tell people here in Boras about graffiti that they do not know?
Lonac: I don’t know if they know a lot about graffiti here because there is not much bombing or tags. I would say that there are a lot of people doing many types of graffiti and there are some who take from the history of graffiti and are making it into some type of art. So I would say before judging it they have to know something about it to understand it.

Afghanistan emigres protesting in Borås, Sweden, September 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Afghanistan emigres protesting in Borås, Sweden, September 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Artist Unknown knows the way to someone’s heart. Borås, Sweden 09-2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nuart Aberdeen 2017: Full Roster of Artists Confirmed

Nuart Aberdeen 2017: Full Roster of Artists Confirmed

And then there were 11.

With yesterday’s official announcement that Norwegian artist Martin Whatson and Belgian artist Jaune will be participating this April at NUART / Aberdeen the full line up of artists has been announced. It’s 11 international artists from 10 different countries, sort of like a New York melting pot in Scotland over Easter Weekend. Nuart Aberdeen 2017, it’s on, and we’ll be there with you.

Here are some highlights of each artist courtesy the folks at Nuart.

“Leading the line up for Nuart Aberdeen is Scottish-born artist and Venice Biennale participant Robert Montgomery, whose text-based artworks come in the form of light installations, murals and temporary paste-ups.

Image courtesy of Nuart

Julien de Casabianca is founder of the global participatory art initiative Outings project, which embellishes the streets with portraits plucked from classical paintings. He’ll be raiding the archives and liberating characters from the prestigious collection of Aberdeen Art Gallery.

From BSA:

Julien De Casabianca, Angry Gods, and Hacking Disaster in Kathmandu

Image courtesy of Nuart

“Jasmin Siddiqui and Falk Lehmann AKA HERAKUT will be making the trip to Scotland. Widely regarded as leading lights of the global street art movement, we can’t wait to see what these two get up to in The Granite City!”

From BSA:

Herakut In Paris With A Message for the Kids About Magic

Image courtesy of Nuart

“Portugese visual artist and illustrator Add Fuel is known for producing optical illusions with painstaking attention to detail, Add Fuel’s interventions hint at the history and heritage that lies beneath our cities. We couldn’t think of anyone better to dig below the surface of The Granite City!”

Image courtesy of Nuart

 Transferring his participatory art project, Mission Directives, from Stavanger to Aberdeen this Spring is Bergen-based artist Nipper. Through utopian ideals of sharing, creativity and citizen-led communication in public space, Mission Directives questions who has the power and authority to communicate messages and create meaning in our shared spaces.”

Image courtesy of Nuart

“Born in 1985 in Lismore, Australia but of Scottish descent, Fintan Magee is considered one of the world’s leading figurative street artists. Following his blockbuster ‘rorschach’ inspired mural for Nuart Festival 2016 we can’t wait to see what Fintan has up his sleeve for Nuart Aberdeen!

From BSA:

Fintan Magee in Rome and Rising Tides Around Your Knees

Image courtesy of Nuart

“M-City is an artist and lecturer at the Academy of Art in Szczecin, Poland. A long-time collaborator of Nuart, M-City is best-known for his large-scale, industrial-themed murals, which involve piecing together hundreds of carefully cut stencils to create a coherent imagined cityscape. Always a joy to work with and guaranteed never to disappoint, we can’t wait to let him loose on Aberdeen’s walls!”

From BSA:

M-City Meets the Commercial Buff in Mexico City

Image courtesy of Nuart

“Alice Pasquini is a multimedia artist from Rome whose affectionate street art explores the brighter side of human relationships. Encompassing murals, paintings, and illustrations which tell stories about various acts of kindness and love, Pasquini leads a new breed of female street artist bringing some much-needed femininity to our public spaces.”

From BSA:

Australian Italian Museum Honors Immigration With Alice Pasquini Mural on Façade

Image courtesy of Nuart

Leading our penultimate artist announcement is Spanish sculptor and interventionist Isaac Cordal, whose small-scale installations capture the humour and absurdity of human existence. At just 25cm tall and hidden in multiple locations throughout the city, little by little Cordal’s characters transform the urban environment in its natural habitat.”

From BSA:

Nuart Day 1: Isaac Cordal Installs His Preoccupied Little Businessmen

Social Isolation, Isaac Cordal, and Neighbors (Sasiedzi) in Łódź

Massive Installation by Isaac Cordal in Nantes “Follow The Leaders”

JAUNE

Celebrating the unsung heroes of our everyday lives is Jaune, a stencil artist and urban interventionist from Brussels. Sanitation workers (Jaune’s ex-profession) are the protagonists in his humorous installations and paintings, which playfully draw on the paradox between the visible and the invisible in our cities. Jaune’s participation comes courtesy of our good friends at The Crystal Ship festival in Ostend, Belgium.

Martin Whatson

Image courtesy of Nuart

Completing this year’s artist line-up is a Nuart favourite and one of Norway’s leading stencil artists, Martin Whatson. Cleverly combining the aesthetics of abstract graffiti and stencil art, Martin Whatson’s distinctive urban scenes have brought him worldwide acclaim and an international band of fans and followers. We are greatly looking forward to seeing how he responds to the unique environment of Aberdeen!

 

For more info go to:

Website: http://www.nuartaberdeen.co.uk/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/nuartaberdeen

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nuartaberdeen

 

 

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BSA Film Friday: 02.10.17

BSA Film Friday: 02.10.17

bsa-film-friday-JAN-2015

Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening :
1. Kahbahbloom: The Art and Story Telling of Ed Emberley
2. Fintan Magee / The Exile
3. Amuse.126.Big Walls
4. EWOK – MSK


bsa-film-friday-special-feature

BSA Special Feature: Kahbahbloom: The Art and Storytelling of Ed Emberley by Todd Mazer

“How he sustained himself artistically was by being restless and trying all these new styles and new ways and not getting stuck in the same thing,” says Caleb Neelon about the children’s book illustrator Ed Emberley with 60 years of storytelling through art– and really it is a lesson well learned by most artists.

On the other hand, it often is helpful if you have one style that you are known for, particularly when you are trying to cut through the clutter and capture people’s attention. Perhaps the best lesson is to be restless and to embrace change.

Special props to Todd Mazer for intuitive use of editing, sharp observation, and unobtrusive storytelling of his own; making this video resonate with viewers.

 

Fintan Magee / The Exile

“Inspired by the youth inside the Azraq refugee camp artist Fintan Magee transported the image of one young Syran girl to East Amman,” says the descriptor at the bottom of the screen. This brief glimpse gives you an idea of the scale of displacement of people in this country.

 

Amuse.126.Big Walls

“Large scale mural work is very powerful and captivating to its audience. To allow me to come in and to paint a predominantly graffiti-based approach and to literally plaster my name onto a side of a building is amazing,” says Chicago based Amuse.

EWOK – MSK

Ewok shows his considerable illustration skills in this commercial for an art supply manufacturer.

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Miami Basel/Wynwood 2016 Wrap: Parade of Eye-Popping Beauty at a Portentous Time

Miami Basel/Wynwood 2016 Wrap: Parade of Eye-Popping Beauty at a Portentous Time

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An embarrassment of riches in so many ways, the Wynwood Street Art and mural scene is outrageously sexy, flashy, ugly, posey, pretty, proliferate and quizzically content-free. The annual outdoor urban art visual carnival that accompanies Art Basel in Miami is full of hi/low expectation and spectacle, and it confidently delivers on both.

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1010. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Long-limbed and shimmery sleek women are often working the sidewalks like runways, the men are carefully posing/not posing/posing with open shirts and genial braggadocio, and there are thousands, more likely millions of selfies taken in front of painted walls.

International art fans are mixing with skater kids and hip hop heads and egg-headed social scientists and teenage marching bands and they are all gawking and interacting with loquacious mamacitas and bearded lumbersexuals; this is not your average clambake.

Sometimes it is just weird; flourescence mixed with plaid, shot-callers and violins, strollers and stillettos, an undertone of aggression and sexual tension, salt-of-the-earth with self-admiring clubbers, perfect skin and aerosol painted hands, a whiff of weed and a sense of wonder waiting to be discovered.

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Audrey Kawasaki at The Hotel. Goldman Global Arts. South Beach. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

While there was a parade of 40 or so citizens and activists carrying signs and handing out flyers down the street to protest the oil pipelines taking sacred lands from native tribes and polluting natural water supplies, the thousands of art fans flooding the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami would have been hard pressed to find any Street Art talking about those topics.

Ironically the political shockwaves this year in Miami seemed to emanate from behind doors at the fair with Sam Durant’s “End White Supremacy” piece that many interpreted as a direct response to the election of a president whose followers include radical organizations that champion white supremacy. Alas, the piece was made in 2008, and although its hand-style emulates the hit and run scrawl of some graffiti on the street, it was a thoughtfully executed piece constructed as an illuminated sign.

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David Choe. Goldman Global Arts. Wynwood Walls. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With one very notable exception, the enormous and frightful mural featuring Donald Trump as Heath Ledger’s Joker wielding a knife at the neck of the Statue of Liberty with the screaming headline “Come On… What the Hell Do You Have to Lose?” by 12 artists for The Bushwick Collective/Mana Urban Arts Project, the professionalization of Street Artists and their murals may be steering the paintings in Wynwood away from in-your-face activism.

Granted, no one is thinking that commercially branded ventures that actually pay artists to paint will encourage the outright expression of social or political opinions – that may challenge or frighten potential customers and investors. Hotel lobbies need murals, sport cars need decorative painting, beer cans need labels. A number of liquor and lifestyle companies have invited artists here over the last few years and paid them to make their special events and products visually appealing, but little else.

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David Choe portrait of Martha Cooper and her cat Mélia. Goldman Global Arts. Wynwood Walls. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The newly refurbished Hard Rock stadium a few miles north of Miami features huge mural installations by international Street Artists that are curated by Goldman Global Arts, a division of Goldman Properties, the same real estate organization that has brought artists from around the world to the Wynwood Walls compound and featured their fine art canvasses in gallery expositions since the late 2000s. The pieces are opus works in an unusual setting and now sports fans are going to be up close and personal with some of the bigger names in Street Art right now.

It would be hypocritical for anyone to expect that these artists should accept commercial work and yet disrespect guidelines about the content. Similarly, expecting artists not to seek commercial opportunities for fear of “selling out” is arrogant and unrealistic and often the convenient provenance of privileged youth who dabble in “slumming” as a rebellious lifestyle. Later they are bankers.

brooklyn-street-art-david-choe-jaime-rojo-wynwood-walls-miami-art-basel-2016-web-2

David Choe. Goldman Global Arts. Wynwood Walls. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Even so, where’s the anger right now? Why didn’t you see a lot of furious diatribes, challenges to power, and mockery of small-minded thinking on the street in Wynwood – and what would it take for Street Art to embrace its power to affect social and political change?

Just posing the question here now, again – as the topics of impending fascism, the increasing acts of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, corruption, oligarchy, state-corporatism, and a systematic eroding of respect for our institutions – all came up in conversations at bars, art openings, panel discussions, and roof parties.

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Okuda. Goldman Global Arts. Wynwood Walls. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The murals you see here are often technically superb and their themes, while muted, may address some of the larger themes affecting society, but one wonders if there is an internalized censorship that we have accepted.

These images are admittedly of a modest percentage of the hundreds of legal murals and illegally dashed-off pieces we saw this week, but that’s only because we have edited for our individual aesthetics, not because of content. Also admittedly, as people in the arts, we are exhausted from the recent election and all it portends, and we were happy for some glorious eye candy to salve the psychic wounds – so maybe we were selectively seeing what we wanted to.

Probably not too much though.

For an art practice with some serious and proud roots in activism, the walls in Miami are curiously quiet. But they definitely look amazing.

brooklyn-street-art-pixel-pancho-jaime-rojo-wynwood-walls-miami-art-basel-2016-web

Pixel Pancho. Goldman Global Arts. Wynwood Walls. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-findac-jaime-rojo-wynwood-walls-miami-art-basel-2016-web

Findac. Goldman Global Arts. Wynwood Walls. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Faith 47. Goldman Global Arts. Wynwood Walls. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Felipe Pantone. Goldman Global Arts. Wynwood Walls. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Martin Whatson. The Raw Project. Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School. Wynwood / Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mr. June. The Raw Project. Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School. Wynwood /Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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INO. The Raw Project. Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School. Wynwood /Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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INO. The Raw Project. Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School. Wynwood /Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © INO)

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Shepard Fairey. Mana Urban Arts Projects. Wynwood /Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Vhils. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Pichi & Avo. Detail. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Pichi & Avo. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Tristan Eaton. Detail. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The London Police. Detail. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Hueman. Detail. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jen Stark. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Fintan Magee. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Fintan Magee. Detail. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Fintan Magee. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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AVAF. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Case Maclaim. Goldman Global Arts. Hard Rock Stadium. Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Bordalo II. Uninhibited Festival 2016. Wynwood /Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Peeta. Wynwood /Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Knarf. Work in progress. Wynwood /Art Basel Miami 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


 Our week’s coverage on BSA:

Wynwood Awakes: BSA x UN BERLIN ART BASEL 2016: Dispatch 1

Police Arrest in Miami: BSA x UN BERLIN ART BASEL 2016: Dispatch 2

You’ll Need Good Shoes: BSA x UN BERLIN ART BASEL 2016: Dispatch 3

Clubhouse Chemistry in a Warehouse : BSA x UN BERLIN ART BASEL 2016: Dispatch 4

Paint, Protest, Party : BSA x UN BERLIN ART BASEL 2016: Dispatch 5

Urban Contemporary Inside the Fair : BSA x UN BERLIN ART BASEL 2016: Dispatch 6


This article is the result of a collaborative partnership with BSA and Urban Nation (UN).


This article is also published on The Huffington Post.

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