Narrowing this down to just three was quite difficult. There are so many amazing artists out there who produce mind-blowing large- and small-scale murals – I encourage you to do a search for yourself to see what I mean. As a new goal, when I go to a new City, I am going to do an art-walk because, even though I knew that street art exists I don’t think I understood the extent until exploring this theme this month.
The first artist I’d like to highlight, Peeta, is a graffiti artist (or spraycan artist) who works within the parameters of the building he is treating as his canvas. He uses bold geometry, perspective and illusions to, as he says, “redesign the volumes of any kind of surface involved, thus causing… a ‘temporary interruption of normality’” (Peeta, 2015). I admire his ability to align with the architecture, whether through the same colour scheme or use of the building features (windows, doors, arches, etc.) to create his anamorphic works.
The next artist appeals to my Art History sensibilities, and I love the colourful overlay on the ancient. PichiAvo is a duo from Spain have taken the most recognizable classical art and combined it with the urban graffiti scene. This is so interesting as we hold the classical white marble sculpture with such high regard and consider it to be “pure” art, while society looks down upon the chaotic colourful street tagging that is graffiti. The irony being that many of the ancient sculptures, as shown by scientific evidence, were in fact ‘garishly’ painted in bright colours. In opposition to Peeta’s work, the art here purposefully contrasts the surrounding context, and is striking and vibrant against white walls and deteriorating settings. I feel like an entire paper could be written on the symbolism this represents in our urban fabric.
The final artist I’d like to highlight is the artist Vhils. He had to be included, because his methods are so vastly different from his counterparts. Vhils works as a reductionist using negative space to create his large-scale portraits. Instead of adding layers to buildings through paint or other methods, he takes away layers from buildings. Some may argue this is destructive, but if you consider many old buildings and just how many layers of paint and grime that they are coated in I doubt that the base building is ever actually harmed. He has this to say about his work “It’s almost an archaeologist’s work… I paint with layers. I try to reflect on them by exposing them… when you carve on a wall it really reflects the story of the city. If the history is recent, the wall is flat, it doesn’t have many layers, and this has a meaning too” (Carvalho, 2015).
Most information was sourced from the artists’ websites. Pictures are linked to sources.
Carvalho, Raquel. Urban artist Vhils in Hong Kong carving out the unconventional amid chaos of the city, November 20, 2015. https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education-community/article/1881630/urban-artist-vhils-hong-kong-carving-out
Di Rita, Manuel. About Peeta, 2015. https://www.peeta.net/about/