Graffti and street artists are often targeted by owners of real estate for their illegal artworks – it’s a tradition. These days those same artists are approached by real estate companies to give their property some urban “edge”, increasing their appeal to younger populations.
In the case of one large corporation in Spain that rents student housing, the appeal has been paying off by giving their properties a ‘hip’ sort of brand, thanks to huge murals by street artists and others. The art is not deliberately political or controversial and usually is aesthetically pleasing to a wide audience.
Recently the Madrid-based collective Boa Mistura artists have left their unique artistic imprint on a 107 square meter surface of interior and exterior walls – using layered colorful typography to allude to the compendium of memories and experiences that can build during your life in one place.
“The murals represent the essence of everything that happens inside a residence: a meeting point, a place of dialogue and refuge,” say the artists say. They say that, with time, your home becomes “a place that is deeply rooted, building stories and memories for life”. In this case, the student living site is at Carlos III University Campus in Getafe.
“I am very happy with how the Mural turned out,” says Marcos Chelo aka Akimbo, of this new mural, his first large format, in Valencia, Spain. A tribute to trans people in general and to Margarida Borrás in particular, this multicolored deity of style is likely more a feature of Akimbo’s modern tastes and imagination than what Borrás wore in the 1450s, where the prized yet persecuted beauty is said to have visited many a home of noble society in Valencia.
Commissioned by the Intramurs festival, Senorita Borràs overlooks the open-air parking lot of the vendors of the nearby Mercat Central de Valencia not far from Plaza del Mercat where public records say she was hanged in 1460. “I represent Margarida interpreting her image from my erotic-festive galactic imaginary,” says Akimbo in his Instagram posting, “turning her into a futuristic Saint, returning her the mystic quality and the honor that Christianity took from us hundreds of years ago.”
According to Ferran Bono in El Pais, the spot has been formally recognized by the city and named for the trans woman, which we translate here: “The priest Melcior Miralles recorded such a tragic outcome in his 15th-century work Crònica i dietari del capellà d’Alfons el Magnànim: ‘In the year 1460, Monday, July 28, in the Valencia market, Margarida was hanged, and she was man, and his name was Miquel Borras, who was the son of a notary from Mallorca and was dressed as a woman, and he was in many houses in Valencia dressed as a woman, which was known, and he was imprisoned and tortured. And because of the said Margarida or Miquel, some were imprisoned and tortured’.
A few years ago, the Valencian researcher and writer Vicente Adelantado investigated the Manuals de Consells of the old juries that ran the city and the municipal archive to prepare his doctoral thesis on the origin of theater in Valencia and found traces of Margarida.”
Every time you hear “artificial intelligence” you think of Becky Thompson from you 9th –grade Earth Science class. Admit it.
But this is an entirely different interpretation of artificial intelligence from SpY.
Madrid public artist appears to be on a winning streak this fall, thanks perhaps to so many detailed plans he laid during lockdown with COVID. This night light show called “DATA”, which he did for the International Festival of Light called LUZMADRID this fall maximizes a slim slice of the urban nighttime view, and he intends it to be an immersive audio-visual experience.
We’re excited to hear about Spain’s first light festival – and we have a little friendly advice: Don’t let the advertisers take it over the curatorial decisions because before you know it they’ll be project toothpaste tubes up this alley. No one will listen to us, but we feel better saying it.
DATA, says SpY, “offers a reflection on the rapid and widespread inclusion of algorithms in numerous aspects of our lives. In this audio-visual work, digital abstraction is used to explore and interpret how predictive tools operated through algorithms and artificial intelligence are highly beneficial in terms of aspects such as communication, research, and medicine, but can also lead us to lose some of our freedoms if they are not used ethically.”
Which was precisely what you would have guessed, right?
SpY tells us that he wanted to explore new tools like holographic fabrics to alter the graphics, saying that they somehow appeared “weightless”. He created a 15-meter high screen made from this fabric and installed it in one of the smaller streets, embuing the experience with something magic, and possibly otherworldly for the audience on the street.
We return for Part 2 of this nearly incandescent display space in the northern woods of Catalonia discovered this month by photographer Lluis Olive Bulbena.
Such an idyllic light and quiet sanctuary for aerosol paintings are on offer for anyone making the effort to investigate. Here you can see the latest trends alongside classic styles of writing for this part of Europe, where lo-fi is as welcome as high-gloss and wild styling.
Dazed and confused, how much of our population is apparently anesthetized; directed through daily decisions by a delicious blend of disinformation and propaganda? Everyone will insist they are not, but look closely. Occasionally there are glimmers of civic engagement, even democratic movements that pop up – before they are gently maligned and subtly marginalized as if simply a matter of consumer “choice”.
‘Byte the Candy’ is the new work in Madrid by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada; a portrait of a woman is contoured as if a computer chip inlaid with circuitry, no more than a central processing unit.
“In 1984, Niel Postman gave a talk about how we are ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death,’” says Rodriguez-Gerada of his inspiration for this new piece he did in conjunction with the Urvanity art fair. “He criticized how the news we see on television is entertainment,” he says, “there only to maintain our attention in order to sell advertisement time instead of trying to make us think.”
Notable also is the earthen color range the artist selected as if merging his precise realism on large-scale murals with his other field of public expression, land art. Even the uniformity of spacing and graduated shading suggests industrial farming methods… but his greater point is the melting together of ethical conscience and the judgment-free manipulation of the subconscious.
“Today, we are living something beyond what Niel Postman was warning us about – social media platforms, with a system of algorithms that have no conscience or mercy,” says Rodriguez-Gerada. “These algorithms work incessantly to keep our constant attention to see advertising and propaganda, and in that way become more efficient with the use of personal data, achieving the ability to target advertising that coincides exactly with the profile of interests of each user.”
Madrid’s Art Week – who would believe that it could actually happen? And to prove it, we have the 5th Anniversary of Urvanity defiantly strutting from one end of the COAM headquarter to the other. Taking its original inspiration from graffiti, post-graffiti, surrealism, pop, and that broadly applied “Urban Contemporary” tag, Sergio and the Urvanity team have persevered this year again.
Where others have failed, Urvanity has succeeded and grown and even matured – with more than 25 national galleries and others from as far away as New York, Brussels, and Bogotá. This is not about fanboys and big unsubstantiated claims, Urvanity drives for quality, and it shows.
The talks this year revolved around high-caliber artists, gallerists, architects, and curators of projects that have made new pathways and invariably give you insight and inspiration in equal measure. BSA has been proud to sponsor this thinking-persons fair, along with the artists and creators; we even hosted their talks a couple of years ago and loved the folks we met there.
Here are a few images of fine art works evolving from the street practice of a number of artists whose names you may recognize.
To see the complete list of galleries and the artists exhibited with the available works click HERE
Frankfurt-based ultra-talent Case Maclaim is with the Urvanity Art Fair this week, and he has created a new mural in Madrid’s old, historical city center. His work is being shown by Brussells Ruby Gallery, along with that of street artists EverSiempre and Wasted Rita. Still, he just wanted to go big with a tribute to children’s imagination.
“I gave the viewer a new character of a yet unknown fairy tale,” Maclaim says of the confident kid wearing a mermaid costume. “I have high hopes that it will encourage especially the young audience to come up with their very own story.”
On another wall, tall and thin, on calle Fuencarral 47, artist Helen Bur painted a figure as a tribute to her mother and to the recently departed Street Artist Hyuro. She says she pays homage to these two women – ‘Humilty, strength, elegance & poetry of the subtle.”
Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is working in a Spanish wheat field. Would you like to lend a hand?
We travel today to the rural setting of Estopiñán del Castillo, a small town in Aragón, Spain to see this new piece of land art made by artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada with friends from Fundación Crisálida, a workplace that values the participation of individuals with intellectual disabilities.
An artwork that is designed to grown and evolve over time, this first of three phases features the green of Spring time during April, at play with the earthtones of soil and compost. When it is in its final phase in October, this artwork will have fully completed its intended natural and aesthetic cycle.
Rodríguez-Gerada says this wheatfield installation is entitled “Nourishing Self-Esteem”, a reference to the interconnectivity of people and the interwoven nature of building community.
“With their hands, the folks at Fundación Crisálida bake bread on a daily basis for their town and the towns nearby. Bread transcends cultures and geography, to unify in its simplicity, a fundamental physical and emotional sustenance,” says his press release. The two hands are meant to symbolize those of an adults and child. The artist says that uniting one to another creates family, community, bolsters feelings of self-worth, and ultimately strengthens everyone involved.
We’re looking forward to seeing how this project and artwork grows.
Video by Luis Campo Vidal / La Cupula Audiovisual
Fundación Crisálida with Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada, and Iris, Aleix, Martí, Cristina, Álex, David, Jacinto, Carina, Caroline, Jennifer, Esmeralda, Ana, Milla, Alén and many locals, create this work that will continue to change for the next six months with three interventions.
A site-specific immersive exhibition by the artist at Museum of Contemporary Art Esteban Vicente From April 8 to September 26, 2021
Style and genre, and era have never been particularly magnetic topics for Borondo; his heart is too poetic for such limitation. Instead, he continues to bring an ambiance, a sense of place – after he has studied it.
The former graffiti writer may have been political after leaving his childhood town of Segovia, Spain. Still, his senses and sensibilities were fed by this World Heritage Site’s atmosphere and its historical arches, turrets, towers, churches, cathedrals, monasteries, and convents – and possibly the enormous Roman aqueduct.
Now returning here to mount his own exhibition in Esteban Vicente Museum of Contemporary Art, his aesthetics and reverence for holy places are also tempered with his age, this age – a fusion now tempered by maturity, but only just so. Creating most of his work on-site, the searching is the story, and the journey is as important as the destination.
Consulting, convening, channeling his formal studies, his street practice, wanderlust, and an ever-present rebellious streak, Borondo still knows how to alchemize the environment. And this place has hosted many; a former city palace of King Enrique IV of Castile, a home of nobles, then a hospice, a school of arts, and a museum. In what time are we living right now? Borondo will not trouble us with such matters.
Gonzalo Borondo. “Hereditas”. Museum of Contemporary Art Esteban Vicente. Segovia, Spain. From April 8 to September 26, 2021. Curated by José María Parreño
It is notable when an organized gang of aerosol-wielding vandals protests your protest against censorship with censorship.
It’s also odious.
Everyone knows that it is normal for graffiti writers and street artists to expect that their ephemeral work may be buffed by a municipality or crossed out by a rival painter. This is a different matter entirely.
This is our 2nd time to bring you this story from a paint jam in Barcelona’s Plaza de las Tres Chimeneas where a collection of artists gathered to paint works addressing what they see as an unjust attack on the freedom of a citizen to express opinions in lyrics and writings. Taken together, these works are a passionate rejection of censorship and a colorful act of free speech by a community.
It made international news last month when Pablo Hasel, a Spanish rapper/singer/artist/musician from this city, was imprisoned under a Supreme Court ruling, which found his lyrics about King Emeritus Juan Carlos De Borbon to be offensive.
Artist Roc Blackblock was surrounded by a tight semi-circle of scrutinizing journalists and citizens as he painted. This was his second mural since his first had been immediately censored and ordered removed at the action in mid-February by an NCNeta brigade who a Barcelona Urban Guard escorted. He didn’t appear to mind the pressure.
Because there have been demonstrations in various cities and because modern media drools over scenes of destruction and violence, it’s easy to forget the many peaceful artists who paint their opinions, says documentary photographer Fernando Alcalá, who shares his work here.
“I think it’s important to keep speaking about the artistic actions when, after days of riots and looting, the media has forgotten about freedom of speech, and they just talk about burnt trash cans,” he says.
We’re happy that he captured these before they were destroyed by ‘Union de Brigadas,’ who recorded their censorious actions proudly and shared them on Twitter and YouTube.
I think it’s important to keep speaking about the artistic actions when, after days of riots and looting, the media has forgotten about freedom of speech and they just talk about burnt trash cans.”
News reports are telling a story about an uptick in domestic violence because families are confined in closed quarters for long periods of time during the COVID-19 lock-downs across the world. A tendency toward abusive behavior is further complicated by economic insecurity, lack of food, and generalized fear. There is help available, please see below for resources.
Anti-Violence Project: Specialized resources for LGBTQIA+ and HIV-positive survivors; 24/7 hotline at 212-714-1141
Crisis Text Line: 24/7 text chat line for individuals in crisis in the United States and Canada; text HOME to 741741
Recover from Financial Abuse
“Unfortunately, financial abuse occurs in 99% of all domestic abuse cases, and the effects can negatively impact survivors for years after they escape,” says Nina Humphry at Bankrate. Below is an article that focuses on “rebuilding finances after escaping an abusive relationship, providing tips on budgeting, building credit, and getting back into the workforce.”
Political cartoons and murals sometimes overlap but rarely as impressively and with such frightening a warning as this new one from Juanjo Surace in Barcelona.
The skill and quality and powerful depiction all come together here from across the Atlantic Ocean, perhaps a clarion summation of how those outside the U.S. now see us and the current occupant of the White House.
The artist is professionally a painter, sculptor, and animation professor. He says he is self taught and that his deepest love for his craft is expressed when spray it on the street.