Dubai and the United Arab Emirates has seen a recent influx of street art and artists. However, those working beyond preordained areas, outside the law and within a true graffati tradition, still surprisingly few. One of the only such street artists is known Arcadia Blank. Though rare and often illegal, the artist’s work has garnered the support of many locals by forgoing trite tagging for short thought provoking maxims. The short text pieces touch on religion, politics, globalization, media, and a range of other matters with an intriguing mix of sarcasm and sincerity. Further, Arcadia often utilizes temporary structures, which not only minimize private property damage but also is especially appropriate to the artwork’s style.
This giant snaking sculpture is the Funnel Tunnel by artist Patrick Renner. The temporary sculpture was commissioned by Art League Houston and sits on the esplanade across from their building. Renner’s Funnel Tunnel stretches for 180 feet, open as a giant funnel at one end and tapering to a sharp point at the other. The structure was created using steel and reclaimed wood. The ALH explains, “the sculpture reflects the creative people and businesses in the Montrose area, and is the first of its kind in Houston.” [via]
Las fall street artists MOMO and El Tono were invited collaborate on a project for the Bien Urbain festival in France. Both artists often work with an abstract painted style. For their collaboration, though, the artists added a third dimension. Using pieces of wood, the artists filled gaps in walls and windows throughout the city. Instead of being unused negative space, the gaps were transformed into a framing device for these abstract compositions. Simple but elegant, the series is illustrative of innovative trends in street on new approaches to interacting with the urban environment.
Europe-Europe is a series of porcelain figurines created by the collective AES+F - a group made up of the artists Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovitch, Evgeny Svyatsky, and Vladimir Fridkes. A first quick glance they may seem like typical decorative figurines. However, it soon becomes clear that something is terribly/wonderfully wrong. The collection, exhibited together in a case, seems like an orgy – people caught in various sexual situations.
Yet, something else makes this series especially interesting: the characters are often thought of disliking or even hating each other in real life situations. A Neo-Nazi strokes the locks of a Hasidic Jewish boy, sweat shop workers pet their capitalist supervisor, a police officer fondles a rioter. While these can easily be read as a playful and optimistic depiction of global unity, a sinister feeling lingers on these figurines. It seems as likely that these hateful feelings are depicted as a sexual tension. Political power struggles are illustrated as sexual power struggles.
Carlo Van de Roer‘s Portrait Machine series is a special kind of portrait photography. De Roer’s portraits are of friends, family, and well known personalities (you may have recognized Miranda July in the first photograph) with a Polaroid Aura Camera. Related to spirit photography, Aura photography uses electromagnetic readings to create the “auras” of colors in the photographs as well as a report explaining the reading. Though the process, readings, and reports are hardly scientific, they reveal much about how much we invest in portraiture. We continually attempt to translate an inner person from outer appearances, particular from a person’s face. The aura photography further reveals to what extent each person can be a mystery to another, even between those familiar to each other.
Spain based street artist Ruben Sanchez has a peculiar artistic style. His work can be found internationally (his latest, the top photograph, created in Dubai). However, his home of Spain can be found in his artwork anywhere its painted. Influences such as Picasso’s Cubism or Miro’s Surrealism are clear in his spray painted mural. He goes on to say of the influences that can be found in his work:
“If you dissect any of my artworks in an operating room you will find graphic design, tribal art, graffiti, cubism, skateboard culture, 90’s and 80’s music, flamenco, social situations and a kaleidoscope among others.”
Artist Alan Bur Johnson natural motifs often. However, this may be his work at its most creepy. Johnson’s Progeny series begins with photographs of winged insects. The photographs are transferred to transparencies and affixed to the wall using insect pins. Progeny allows viewers to inspect the insects up close, afford creatures we’d otherwise dispose of more time, and give some thought to taxonomy, the exercise of classification. Interestingly his statement says in part:
“Whether an image, memory or specimen, each is meticulously dissected, altered and restructured. Referencing physical structures and the pulse of living cycles, his work documents fleeting occurrences, which typically transpire unnoticed.”
The highly detailed paintings of Valerio Carrubba offer an unexpected combination of styles that strangely complement each other. His scenery and figures seem to emerge from a Renaissance and Baroque tradition. Mysterious hands pull and cut at the flesh revealing each subject’s inner anatomy in a nearly cold way very similar to modern anatomy atlases. The scene as a whole, however, bears the definite influence of surrealism. Carrubba works these various styles and aesthetic sensibilities as skillfully as the oil paint. The boundaries are seamless and carefully worked.