Man against man. Man against God. Man against himself. Man against gratuitously opinionated and parochial graff heads, Street Art fanboys, and self-appointed explainers of the “rules” of the street.
These are a few of the recurring themes in “TOYS” by the Italian free-thinking brutalists and long-pole bucket painters named Canemorto in their exhibition with Superfluo at Section80. Street Artists with a purer vision than many in this murky milieu, Canemorto buck conventions and honor the rules of graffiti, street art, and contemporary art at their own peril, often feeling triangulated and abused by the undertaking.
Here in their simplistic and horrid toy diorama of Evil Vs Evil Vs Deluded Vs Good; the opinions and assorted powers are all unleashed on an even playing field, ready to bash each other over the head, skew one another with postmodern bayonets and sundry weaponry.
“In my opinion, nobody can remake these paintings. They’re not reasoned. It’s an instinctive style,” says the art restorer Camillo Tarozzi in their accompanying dramatized and musical video, when discussing what appears to be the taking of walls by Canemorto in public/private space.
The debates about the rightness of this art being taken, preserved, displayed in a different context has been brought to the fore recently by their countryman Blu in Bologna in response to his street walls now on exhibit in a museum.
But the weight of historical practices of preservation wrestling with the forces of ephemerous ‘street cred’ is like matching a tyrannosaurus with a Transformer; which is why the “TOYS” diorama in the community show space of an advertising/production company encapsulates some of their internal dilemmas so perfectly. Seeing the artists themselves as packaged products hanging on the wall commodifies them in a way that is knowingly sarcastic, thrilling, and drowned in irony. Collect all three!
In their films and in their practice Canemorto are chanting like shamans casting spells to keep away the evil spirits of commercialism and general lameness. Sitting on the couch or climbing over fences the masked trio repeatedly invoke the autonomy and authenticity of “the street” while other versions of success beckon to them, cloaked in something shinier, elusive, enticing.
As in their previously released long-form street art film they are seeking direction from an ever-watchful periodically-appearing somewhat sadistic spirit guide. As they navigate the route one wonders if this leader has their best interests in mind, and even how he qualified for his position.
Similarly, after nearly a decade of monstrous works on the street, many nights of ducking and painting, and the endless studying of the culture that they are acting within, the title “TOYS” is clearly offered with a sense of humor and does not apply to Canemorto.
There is something about the billboard takeover that still feels like a world of possibilities untapped. Billboard Liberation Front showed how to subvert with style, and urban pranksters like Ron English showed how to integrate soft social critique in the détournement dance, but in many cases the visual language has remained within the advertising rubric.
Canemorto shows that it’s possibly even more arresting to repurpose a commercial space with blunt hand-rendered artistic imperfection, converting the space into an actual painters canvas.
We have grown completely accustomed to the slick billboards alongside highways luring us with $69 motels and attorneys who promise to make you rich if you just put on a neck brace and dial 1-800-WESUE4U. When they are thoughtfully subverted/inverted/perverted you may run the risk of missing the new message entirely, so inured we have become to the medium and its methods.
Italy’s Canemorto troupe thinks that a large raw Picassoesque portrait painted on it, however maniacal and disturbed it may be, is an improvement. It is also possible that this visual jolt will cause you to steer your car into a ditch. Still, a wild-eyed portrait is possibly more edifying than seeing a real estate tycoon comb-over or a warning about the Judgement Day that came and left you here with the sinners.
Canemorto shared some images here of roadside madness they recorded last summer including three new pieces off a highway near Milan. They admit that the pieces themselves “are not our best”, but the personal hand, the brute rawness of the images, make them stand out in this impersonal no-mans land and offer perhaps a counterbalance to a different sort of brutishness that sends roaring truck and car traffic to saw jaggedly through the natural beauty we inherited.
Gutteral grunts of smeared color across lumpen or attenuated limbs akimbo, eye balls bulging and staring with body language and gestures happily inclusive, the Canemorto trio are grotesquely entertaining many a wall across Italy these days. Neneboy, Zenop, and Azz the One are three Italian Street Artists “who paint together as a single person” using the name that means “dead dog”.
Not exactly mannerists like Il Parmigianino, you can still see the painting DNA of a rich cultural heritage inform their freewheeling hand even as they elongate and distort and recolor, letting the street encourage spontaneity, as it often will. Like a dead dog along the roadside, you may feel a little put off, but you also feel compelled to inspect it nonetheless. And perhaps take a picture. In a way, that could be the intention.
Here we look at recent pieces from Milano at night, a work made in Lodi in collaboration with EmaJons and Cripsta, and a work made in Saronno. A special shout out to photographer El Pacino for the excellent black and white night shots.
La Galleria Studio D’Ars è lieta di presentare al pubblico milanese il lavoro di Etnik, artista e writer conosciuto a livello internazionale.
Etnik è lo pseudonimo dietro al quale si cela la figura poliedrica di Alessandro Battisti, dagli anni ‘90 uno degli artisti più attivi e completi del writing in Italia, a cui Etnik apporterà insoliti e personali contributi, scaturiti dalle proprie esperienze, nel campo dell’illustrazione e della scenotecnica. La sua passione per questa disciplina lo porta oggi a realizzare tag bi e tridimensionali con uno stile proprio e riconoscibile, offrendogli l’opportunità di partecipare a grandi eventi pubblici e di collaborare coi migliori writers della scena internazionale. Lo studio del lettering non si limita alla pura ricerca estetica delle lettere ma, dopo vent’anni passati a dipingere spazi urbani di periferia e a cercarne di nuovi, l’artista lo coinvolge nella riflessione sul concetto di “città”, che ne scorge un nuovo punto di vista, fino a farne soggetto principale della sua ricerca pittorica. Il lettering diviene la base su cui Etnik imposta l’intero impianto concettuale e compositivo della sua nuova e personale ricerca artistica, che nel 2003 vede la luce sotto il nome di “Città prospettiche”. La trasformazione delle lettere, che compongono il suo nome in masse geometriche, apparentemente irriconoscibili, sono lo spunto su cui costruire moduli architettonici riconducibili a stereotipi di insediamento urbano, che s’intersecano violentemente su piani opposti e punti di vista spiazzanti per rappresentare un cemento sempre più costrittivo e un equilibrio sempre più precario nella vita quotidiana di ognuno di noi. La serie diviene soggetto e oggetto di studio, che trova nella trasposizione scultorea e su muro maggior spettacolarità e arditezza, mentre su tela e tavola riesce a toccare livelli di sintesi geometrica estrema, in cui l’identificazione delle costruzioni è quasi impossibile se non grazie a un uso descrittivo del colore e di una gamma cromatica brillante e di contrasto.
Street Artist and Fine Artist Isaac Cordal’s new installation in Milan for Venduto 3 meditates upon the theme of the failure of our leaders to do what they are supposed to do: Lead. If the people in the streets this year from Cairo to Rome to Athens to Paris to LA to New York are indication, leadership is in crisis around the globe.
Among the paradigms that are shifting, first world cultures are also watching some evaporate. With his droll knack for set design, Cordal continues to place his business man sculptures in the man-made environment to create scenes that tweak perception. In these new images, the myth of the paternal employer continues to crumble and Cordal’s miniature loyal “organization man” plods forward unthinkingly with shoulders slumped even as he descends into the rubble.
Street Artist Angel Cruciani Commemorates 150 Years of Italian Unity
This month Italy commemorates 150 years of unification. In March 1861 Turin became the first capital of Italy after the political and social movement known as il Risorgimentobrought together most of the city-states from the Italian Peninsula. Rome was not part of this unification as it was still controlled by the Pope as part of the Papal States. In 1871 Rome became the third and last capital city of Italy.
To mark this occasion Italian artist Angel Cruciani has been busy stenciling numerous cities across Italy with a stylized and nationalistic portrait of Jesus, essentially unifying Church and State. Taking it’s cue from narrow facial lines in The Shroud of Turin, the stencil campaign brings the “Jesus Street” project all over Italy’s plazas and main streets.