A duo of wall painters show us their very different approaches to graphic design, illustration, and sign painting in these two new pieces completed last week in Sant Vicenç des Horts, Spain.
Joan Tarragó paints his “Fight Plastic Portal” with
his “fusion of graphic language, ancient symbolism and surf influences,” he
says. The wrapping line-work its pulsating natural energy washes over you in
waves of turquoise and curving black lines. If these patterns look familiar you
may have seen his work on facades and skating courts in places like Miami, New
York, Japan, and Bali.
Ángel Toren elevates the “tag” of traditional graffiti writers as interpreted by theater posters and cinemas by employing optical play, geometric sharpness, crisp layers of color and dimension. The skills are so focused that you forget this is by hand, by can, by brush.
Toren says his work “focuses on the tri-dimensionality of space, depth and perspective as a dance in the composition.” His 2 and 3-D color plays have appeared as abstract and pop-informed graffiti stays true to his roots while pushing the boundaries of the accepted idea of a piece that was first defined by train writers.
The walls are part of an initiative from Contorno Urbano, a
community based public art effort which is beginning a new edition of their 12
+ 1 project in Sant Vinceç del Horts, featuring interventions on Rafael
Casanova’s street walls. The temporary installations ride two months, to be
replaced by a new duo.
A new sharply political campaign championing the freedom of expression has caught fire in Spain in the last few weeks under the hashtag #NoCallaremos, and Street Artists are now adding their talents to the protest. Rather shockingly for a modern European nation, a rapper’s prison sentence for offensive lyrics was upheld in Spanish Supreme Court in February (Billboard) and that decision along with other recent events has sparked a number of creative protests across the art world in cities across the country. Today BSA contributing Street Art photographer Fer Alcalá shares his opinions and new images of the murals in progress with BSA readers.
THE NO CALLAREM PLATFORM
~ by Fer Alcalá
…or how some of Spanish top artists react against censorship and repression of the freedom of speech from the central government…
It’s now known worldwide: the Spanish government is imprisoning hip hop artists like Valtonyc and Pablo Hasel because of their sharp and truthful lyrics as well as sentencing people like you and me because of their critical posts on social media.
As a reaction to these acts against the freedom of speech that are more in tune with a well established dictatorship than with 40 years of democracy, some projects like the No Callarem (we won’t shut up) platform have raised their voices.
One of the direct actions organized by the platform for fighting against Partido Popular’s civil rights oppression was to film a video clip featuring some of the most renowned lyricists on the scene as Frank T, Elphomega, Los Chikos del Maíz, La Ira, Rapsusklei, and César Strawberry, among others, at the old La Modelo prison. The location is an accurate metaphorical scenario when you are seeing that your liberty is being cut off thanks to laws like ‘Ley Mordaza’.
The song ‘Los Borbones son unos ladrones’, which alludes directly to the Spanish monarchy, includes some excerpts from some of the songs created by rappers serving a prison sentence. The video clip for the song, which you can watch at the end of this article, has become viral and almost all media outlets in the country are speaking about this big shout-out in the name of freedom.
I was invited to witness the filming and painting session by local artist Javier de Riba, from Reskate Studio, who invited some fellow artists to paint at La Modelo walls as a part of the whole process. Franco Fasoli JAZ, Twee Muizen, Txemy, Joan Tarragò, Enric Sant, Milvietnams, Werens and Fullet gave a new voice to the walls surrounding that backyard, providing 2D images that perfectly matched the spirit behind the beats and the rhymes.
This is what Javi has to say about his collaboration with the project:
“Our involvement with No Callarem happened thanks to the Catalan rap artist Pau Llonch. He lit the spark for recording a clip against the Valtonyc and Hasel sentences. They wanted to do it at La Modelo no matter what and the No Callarem platform supported the action. We helped to spread the word for putting together a team with different languages together to visually enhance the video clip.
At the beginning, was what meant to be an ‘atrezzo action’ turned into a bunch of pieces that can be visited in the backyard of Gallery 4. In fact that backyard is not open to the public, but you can see it from the watch guard pit. We think that, from a conceptual point of view, it’s very powerful to keep those pieces locked – especially when thinking about how things are going in Spain regarding freedom of speech.”
Additionally it’s worth mentioning Reskate’s initiative about shouting against the suffocating atmosphere that we are experiencing here for some time: ‘Our idea is that every artist post one piece / illustration / painting / picture (old or new) supporting our initiative promoting freedom of speech in order to criticize the lack of democracy within the Spanish government.
Visual artists from Madrid, Zaragoza, Almería, Oviedo, Valencia, Vila-real, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valladolid, Tenerife…are supporting this initiative. Some of them are: Malakkai, Escif, Paula Bonet, Aryz, Ricardo Cavolo, Enric Sant, Twee Muizen, Franco Fasoli, Hyuro, Javier Jaén, Boa Mistura, Conrad Roset, Jordi Borràs, Danjer, Cinta Vidal, David de las Heras, Juan Díaz-Faes, Chamo San, and Marina Capdevila, among others.
La Semana por la Libertad de Expresión (Freedom of Speech Week) is happening now, with different activities taking place all over the country. The funds raised from these activities will go to a resistance fund for the platform in order to defend all those people chased and brought to justice because of censorship and repression. You can check the whole program of the week HERE.
So, yes: we have a fight going on. Comedians, actors and actresses, musicians, journalists, visual artists, the guy / girl next door who is active in social media… It’s kind of a Russian Roulette game where, if you are critical with the established system and you are using 3rd grade humor as a weapon, you can end in jail. And all of it is happening in a country whose government is accused of being the most corrupt on the whole continent.
I have a very well informed friend who has been kind of disappointed with the absence of critical vision and combative behaviors from most of the big names in the local street art / graffiti scene. Thanks to initiatives such as No Callarem and the impulse of people like Javi de Riba, she is reconciling herself with this small, but powerful little world whose images have the strength for making important things happen.
Finally, I’d like to recommend that you check the publications under the hashtag #nocallaremos that are out, as there will be some fine and unique art being produced for the occasion in the upcoming days.
As it’s being said in Los Borbones son unos Ladrones:
– rap music is not a crime
– we need scratches, we need paintings
– I don’t dream about Versace, I dream about barricades
– …because of the poetry that still sleeps in the ditches…
Big props to Javi de Riba, Xavier Urbano and all the artists behind the No Callarem movement.
New York’s Street Art/graffiti/public/urban art scene is poppin’ baby – new shows, new spaces opening up or rumored to be, a new fleet of artists going out to the street doing sanctioned and unsanctioned work, and new debates about what it all means to the scene and who should rush to take credit for each phase or element of it. Answer: all of us, none of us.
Also a renewed and flawed discussion has erupted again, as it periodically does, around the need to have a “critique” around street art. We know that critical observation can be useful for those who are unsure about forming their own opinions, it’s just that we advocate widening that circle of who gets to offer the critique to include, um, everybody.
We also usually trust people on the street to make their own judgements about an art piece and its value or importance in that context. The inner world and material world of art is vastly larger than we can usually imagine and our rush to measure it often hilariously misses the point or the intention of the artist, so let’s take this impulse to judge it with some humility.
In the case of graffiti and Street Art, we all have seen examples over the last half-century where educational or cultural institutions implicitly or explicitly dismiss work on the street until it has been validated by market forces. The caustic undertone of this habitual and snide dismissal can be tied directly to classism, racism, or fear of the unknown. This is a generalization of course, so take it as such, but the neo-liberal cycle of “critical thought” has been too often reserved for the dominant culture or class, and that paradigm is really of no service to any of us anymore.
The folks who put missives on the street do so with a wide variety of motivations, needs, desires, and expectations. They are perfectly happy to have their work judged by the average passerby, and in New Yawk there is never a shortage of opinions, regardless of what school you went to. In the case of art in the streets, those are the opinions that still matter the most.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Ainac, AwerOne, Bluedog 10003, Joan Tarrago, Judith Supine, Kalen Hollomon, Maki Carvalho, Pastel, REVS, Wolftits, and ZAH