Juan Yksuhc is more oil-on-canvas than aerosol-on-steel, but he’s done the latter with the same fantastical figurative free-wheeling quotidian panache as the former. Rich tones and stretched torsos give way to static snapshots of real life, always rendered in a fevered fervor.
Here in Madrid his paintings are episodic and serially thematic, you may say. Photographer Ricardo Hernandez seeks them, warmed with curiosity at their formal classicism, their nonplussed aplomb and sometimes obvious symbolism. It’s a different kind of lengua de la calle.
Yksuhc in fact is not eager to be unpacked, preferring the graphic manifestation of a historical present to catch you in your moment, ready to walk into the world he’s just painted for you.
For example he tells us that this series “Centropelia” is an allusion to the conflicted realities bound within gentrification; as modern as it is historic with its themes of speculation, expulsion, and the spiraling economic violence of rent.
These days it is the default storyline of a non-British arts journalist to deign that their local street artist is “Tel Aviv’s Banksy”, or “Wanaka’s Banksy”. Here in Madrid, this artist just calls himself Banksy’s cousin, or at least that could be one interpretation of his artistic name.
Primo Banksy is a trained artistic talent and uses his carefully rendered ink and watercolor illustrations to highlight cultural figures in art, politics, literature – like John & Yoko, the girl from the Velázquez’ Las Meninas, or this portrait of Federico García Lorca, the poet, playwright, and theater director.
Meanwhile the street artist known as TVBoy is much closer in style and sentimentality to the Bristol-born street art man of mystery known around the world. The Barcelona based Italian favors the pop side of so-called “urban art” here, his filter treatments of popular figures a sure hit for passersby who relate to the subject.
Our thanks to BSA reader Ricardo Hernandez who shares with
us some recent shots while strolling the streets of Madrid.
New walls from Madrid from only a few weeks ago at the Urvanity Festival, before the city became known as a hub for Coronavirus, went on full lockdown – today closing all of its hotels…
We start off the collection with graffiti writer from Montpellier, France named Franck Noto aka Zest. His gestural abstracts are just the kind of bright swipes of energy that capture a commercial market these days, and here he brings those energies to the street as well.
Noto combines the different energies found in Graffiti and brings them
out through the basic shapes and the primary colors he uses. The bright
colors symbolize the aspect of urban art that immediately catches the
eye of passers-by, even before they give a positive or negative opinion
on what they see. As for the transparency of the forms, it reflects an
accumulation of energies and movements.
Presented by Swinton Gallery at this year’s edition of Urvanity Art Fair in Madrid, Canadian artists Laurence Vallières’ installation turned heads and made people think. Ms. Vallières is well known for her sculptures, mostly of animals in peril made out of hard cardboard. Her outdoor installation at Urvanity had a lot to say with two images that stop people in their tracks.
The center stage in the outdoor area features a murdered triceratops and a triumphant Mickey Mouse astride the hapless animal with blood on his hands, possibly dining on its entrails. Art, of course, can be interpreted in so many ways, and that’s one of its inherent powers. To us, this sculpture represents the centuries of American colonialism around the world and the trail of blood and misery left behind by the conquerors. At the least its a stab at corporate power.
Or does this represent a more generalized corruption in the highest offices – with unashamed displays of nepotism and greed run amok. More literally you may think of those clueless bounty hunters who boast about their kill of the last members of species.
No matter your analysis of the art piece and what it represents to you in particular, this is a powerful socio-political critique given the mainstage at Urvanity Madrid 2020, and many will have an opportunity to see it firsthand.
The body as an object. The body as a sexual object. The body objectified.
Combine these notions with soft sculpture in a public space and you will begin to experience Junja Jankovic’s new work in Madrid as we lead up to Urvanity 2020, the newest campaign of contemporary urban art that focuses on galleries and artists working in the public sphere.
The Croatian fine artist studied in Zagreb and New York and lives “on her home island of Lošinj where she runs a screenprint studio and a gallery in an abandoned sardine factory,” she says in her bio. These soft sculptures mimic the digital reality now interacting with city reality – inviting you to be a part of them.
Joining her are Samuel Salcedo’s hyperrealistic and emotional heads, seemingly rolling around Plaza Juan Goytisolo in a possibly disturbing way. The Barcelona born sculpture commands the space, then holds your attention with subtle ironies and humor. You’ve seen these faces before, but not like this.
A third participant in Urvanity’s public show this year is graffiti writer Abel Iglesias and his scattered abstractions applied to the intense weight of a steel cube. Running between Valencia and Barcelona the young experimenter is unhindered by formalism, offering a trip to 90’s Memphis and inflatable pastel motifs of whimsy and geometry. This perplexing form in dark solitude brings a new gravity to an often floating oeuvre of Iglesias.
Contemporary Urban Art fans, collectors, gallerists are coming together again this year in Madrid for Urvanity, a unique survey of current movements and trends along the Street Art/ graffiti/ urban art continuum, with a focus on canvasses and sculpture.
Again this year comes a strong program of talks with some scintillating professionals who have high profiles in many sectors of this ever-expanding field of art in the public sphere. We hosted last year and the conversations we had were enriching, the people whom we met well versed and passionate.
This story starts in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and ends in Madrid, Spain but its focus is global in nature.
With the earth at the center of the eye, Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada tells us that the first of two murals he painted for the recent COP 25 conferences is called “Forest Focus.” As the world has been watching the largest forests of Australia burning this month, he clearly knows what we’re all facing.
“With an image of the world as the iris,” he says, “This mural has an artistic focal point that symbolizes the values set forth at the COP25 conference being held in Madrid.”
The Cuban-born Street Artist, now based in Barcelona, was partnering with a public art program/platform called GreenPoint EARTH during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, or COP 25 to create two new street art pieces.
Well known for his “Terrestrial Series” of artworks spread over masses of land that are visible by planes flying overhead, Rodriguez-Gerada blends social and ecological themes seamlessly with sometimes profound results.
His second mural of the series is a portrait of Hilda Pérez, a person indigenous to Peru and theVice President of the National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Women of Peru (ONAMIAP). The team says she was chosen to represent indigenous people because their voices are frequently marginalized in discussions about ecology and climate change, despite occupying 25-50 percent of the Earth’s land.
“We need to think of every tool in our toolkit because time is ultimately running out,” said Greenpoint Innovations founder Stephen Donofrio at a panel discussion with the artist at the Action Hub Event during the COP25.
He was speaking about the pivotal role that Street Art has been able to fill in education, as well as his own interest in partnering with artists and other collaborators to raise awareness for a myriad of environmental issues. “That’s why it’s really important that Chile/Madrid COP25 has this really strong message that it’s time for action.”
more plans to involve Street Artists around the world “to inspire climate action with
positive messages about the interconnected themes of nature, people, and
climate,” Donofrio says he believes that the
power of communication that Street Artists wield can be focused to make real,
“The connectivity is really important
in these projects to establish that we are dealing with globally challenging issues
that boil down to a really local consequence.”
As part of the offerings on the street this year in Madrid, the Urvanity fair featured four artists creating new murals in the nearby environs to the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Madrid (COAM) campus.
Today we have some shots of the new works by Artez, Marat Morik, Poni, and Pro176, who each were working on their pieces while the Madrid crowds milled by in what really felt like the first sunny days of spring. Here are some process shots and final shots of the walls.
Serbian Artez brings his realistic illustration style says he is talking “About
this Town” with this mural placed in the central shopping district. “Instead of
carrying shopping bags,” he says on his FB page, “the girl is depicted as
holding a pile of books important for the history and culture of the city along
with a plant with a small birdhouse that is inviting all the ‘birds’ to come
and feel like home!”
Parisian graff writer Pro176 busted out a tall slim slice of back-alley
wall with his collaged pop comic style that may trigger memories of
childhood adventures with superheroes and comedic capers. You may have
to hunt for it but it feels like a reward once you discover this hidden
powerhouse by an aerosol painting pro.
The Mexican artist Poni brings this balance of feminine and
statuesque alive on this tall slab of wall that rises high above the street.
With a nod to sisterhood and Matisse cutouts, her solid shapes buttress the
history of womens work and liberates as well.
Former graffiti writer Marat Morik from Russia now uses his illustration style work to evoke the dramatic, darker elements of the street and fiction novels perhaps. Here his portrait of poet Anna Akhmatova, who looks like she’s been caught unaware amidst a deepening plotline shrouded in collaged symbolism, text and textural elements.
Patti Smith begins the roll call for BSA Images of the Week in this portrait by Huetek. The punk term is loosely tossed around today, but it only applies to a certain number of people truthfully. In so many ways she is one. But she is also an author, poet, activist, and champion of the people – who she says have the power.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Adam Fu, Bella Phame, BK Foxx, Bobo, Deih XLF, Exist, Huetek, Isaac Cordal, Koralie, Koz Dos, Sixe Paredes, Smells, SoSa, UFO 907, Velvet, WW Crudo, and Zoer.
Unearthed by Artsy this week, the paper is ricocheting across social media with shock and dismay uttered by some artists who lament the hollowness of the modern graffiti/ Street Art/ Urban Art world, purporting to be distinct and above it all, yet posing in countless photos on their social pages with myriad peers and professionals and potential clients cheek-to-cheek.
It may be time that some hardcore Graffiti and Street Artists can shed some of the charades about how the globe turns, even if you are a graduate of the “School of Hard Knocks”. This movement we are witnessing toward self-promotion and marketing has always been true: This research paper doesn’t even use modern artists as a model for study – the subjects were part of the 20th Century abstract art movement and most died years ago.
You’ll recall that a central tenant of graffiti is that writers spread their names on every wall in different neighborhoods and cities to get “Fame”. As the authors of the paper Banerjee Mitali and Paul L. Ingram say, “CEOs, activists, scientists and innovators all benefit from fame. Meanwhile, the struggle for fame is becoming ever more intense and complex in a digital economy.” Download the paper here.
Yes, networking helps your career. In other breaking news, puppies are cute, the Pope is Catholic, and boys like short skirts.
This week our Images of the Week are coming to you directly from our latest visits to Madrid, Bilbao, and Bayonne. We’re excited to share what we found with BSA readers.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Anna Taratiel, Artez, Aryz, C215, Dan Witz, Eltono, Invader, Monkeybird, MSW, Stinkfish, and Suso33.