Athens, Greece-based artist HOPE is well-known for his use of large-format collaged pieces, both in the streets and in the gallery. Taking the ruins of the classical sculptures of his homeland, HOPE returns these images to decaying buildings, using large stickers applied outdoors. Though he found his fame in the streets of Athens, the mixed-media artist has been transitioning towards exhibiting his works more indoors, both in decrepit public spaces and in white-walled galleries. Describing his style of using and remixing classical and recognizable sculpture, HOPE says, “My works are marked by mythology. They are sculptural images inspired from the past with a new aesthetic rule.”
HOPE continues, “What interests me about street art and public art, in general, is that it can exist as a forum/platform for dialogue. We live and think within the public space. When you place an artwork in the public domain, you’re interacting with the public. This makes you think about the public order. You’re given the opportunity to express your opinion politically and sociologically through a work, the longevity of which is determined according to the public opinion… But the main reason I got involved in street art was the feeling that I was creating an anti-monument, a new kind of creative model which escapes private places. Sometimes, when public art is effective, it can even change the world.” (via artnau and yatzer)
For the last few years, Japanese artist Jun Kitagawa has installed large zippers in public spaces. Sometimes they are painted on the wall, but more often and impressively, they are placed as sculptures in the middle of rooms and in public ponds. There, the ground looks as though it’s opening up and going to swallow you whole. Kitagawa has fashioned larger-than-life zippers, complete with his name on it (akin to the popular manufacturer YKK). Between the giant zipper’s teeth you can see what’s below, like wooden beams or most of the time, a dark void.
Kitagawa’s work plays into the wonder we have of what lies beneath the surface, and is a metaphor for making light of the unknown. The giant zipper reveals what can’t easily be seen, and what we often wish that we could. Even if the zipper is “open,” many times the artist fills it with nothing, saying that the truth or reality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. (Via Colossal)
Fra.Biancoshock insists he is not a street artist, but rather the Milan-based experientialist noticed that his street-level installations and interventions spoke using the same language as Street Art. In regards to the movement of Street Art in regards to his work, the mysterious, identity-protecting Fra. says, “For me, that phrase is a provocation: I have not studied art, I do not frequent artistic circles, or amicidell’amicodelcuginodelfratellodelsuoamico … And I have no particular technical and artistic skills. I just have ideas and I like to strain my mind in trying to propose to the common people through what I call “Unconventional Experiences.” I think mine are “experiences” rather than works of art.”
With ties and intentions closer to Performance and Conceptual Art (for those paying off MFA degrees, think Guy Debord), the man who would become Fra.Biancoshock developed the performative avant-garde school of art he calls Effimerismo (“The Effimerismo is a movement that has the aim of producing works of art that exists in a limited way in the space, but that they persist in an infinite way in time…”) as a means of exploring and categorizing his specific means of street engagement (or as he is known to call them, “speeches”).
Operating in this very-intentionally public mode of communication, Fra.Biancoshock uses the streets as a forum, installing temporary interventions to call attention to themes of poverty, urban blight, modern stress and decay. Present in most works is how Fra deals with serious themes with a disarmingly light-hearted approach. His work has mostly been viewed (often quite temporarily) in Europe, though as Fra. says in his Manifesto-like statement, “Prior to founding the movement, [Fra.biancoshock] has made more than 400 speeches on the streets of Italy , Spain , Portugal, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Malaysia and the State of Singapore, and has no intention of stopping.” (via hi-fructose)
David Mesguich (previously here) is known for his enormous polyurethane and recycled plastic public sculptures, bearing line and shape work that is reminiscent of both geometric or vectorized patterns. The Brussels-based artist’s latest work, PRESSURE 1.0, was installed on an elevated freeway which is known to be the gateway to the French city of Marseilles. The artist explains, “The story of “pressure”—it’s the story of people who are on the fence, in between worlds, those who are both on the inside and on the outside. My inspiration came from two sources: a family history that steeped me in a violent, carceral universe during my youth and more than 10 years of trespassing with graffiti.”
Created with the geometric features of a woman’s face, the statue seems to stare, both blankly and longingly. Meguich describes the placement as “… a non-place where the sculpture could look in the direction of Africa and face the whole city at the same time.” Because the statue was not authorized by French authorities, it was technically illegal, but Megiuch explains that his work is as much an unorthodox ‘gift’ as it is illegal. “Pressure is a non-profit project, it was not made to be sold. As with my previous public space sculpture, LUZ 1.0[a large-scale sculpture created for the Nuit Blanche Festival in Clichy, a suburbs of Paris], it was created as a donation to the city.”
According to writer Sara Barnes at My Modern Met, “Despite its illegal placement, the sculpture remained untouched for two weeks. After a bad storm, however, the sculpture fell to the ground and was seriously damaged. The weather lasted a week, and everyday a new part of it was broken until nothing remained” (via mymodernmet)
The work of Dillon Boy (né James Dillon Wright) emerged from a street art and graffiti background, combining pop culture, branding, advertising, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to take these sources further than they were intended. This evolution (or devolution) is evident in his series DIRTYLAND, where the artist takes the ever-popular childhood icons of Disney’s princesses and removes their context, and clothes.
In works which collage smut magazine backgrounds with spraypaint stencils, drips and graffiti scrawls, these princesses become transformed representations of our combined high and lowbrow society, and take aim at the falsely marketed ideas of perfection and innocence. In an exclusive talk with Beautiful/Decay, Dillon talks about the series. “Most of my audience were kids when these princesses ruled their world, so now that they are all adults (and sexually active) they are all ready to hang paintings of naked Disney chicks all over the house. [laughs]. No for real though, I believe it’s my job as an artist to question the very things around me and to continuously break down the traditional and more conventional ways of making art. It is my intention to raise or lower your eyebrows in one way or another.”
This reappropriation of pop culture icons is nothing new, but seems to be happening at a rapidly increasing pace (Beautiful/Decay has recently featured several such reimaginings of pop culture symbols), indicating that artists are remaining relevant to many audiences by constantly questioning what we collectively see daily. Dillon Boy (surprisingly?) notes that he has not seen much in the way of criticism of his DIRTYLAND series, and that is his job as an artist to take things one step further. “Well, one thing is for sure, we live in a sexually charged culture. Walk outside and you will quickly find a billboard or an ad in a publication showcasing a woman as a sex object. Sex sells remember. I simply used the pure, untainted characters of Walt Disney to convey that message. But that’s obvious, I’m not doing anything that hasn’t been done before… but I’m ready to do it again!”
Alicia Martín (formerly featured here - as well as in our Best of 2012) has kept busy this year, expanding on her signature style of cascading book installations that we first saw in Biografías. Each installation begins as a wire and aluminum structure, to which hundreds and thousands of books are attached, creating the illusion of waterfalls of pages and spines wrapping around objects, wrapping around themselves, and pouring from windows and underneath walls.
In works such as Singularidad, the Madrid, Spain-based artist focuses her waves of books into a more circular shape, resembling a vortex rather than a waterfall. Playing with the idea of a black-hole, or naked singularity, the collective swathe of books consumes itself, rather than bursting forward. In Contemporaneos, Martín plays with the idea of the books being the background, the support, or what’s behind the object, pouring out of (or cracking through) a wall – engaging in a dialogue with more indoor, site-specific contemporary installation. However, Martín continues to re-imagine her waterfalls, with newer pieces expanding on previous work’s pouring from buildings, as well as running down streets, through windows and around trees, with pages blowing in the wind at each amazing installation. (via mymodernmet)
Perhaps one of the best street-art interventions of the year comes at the very end. Daniel Siering and Mario Shu developed a unique strategy for their site-specific public project in Potsdam, Germany. By wrapping a tree and covering the wrapping with incredibly detailed spray-paint, the duo manages to perfectly capture a stunning sinhle-point perspective which gives the illusion that the tree is bisected, with the top half mysteriously floating above the fields and horizon in the background.
As this is a developing story, there are precious few pictures to properly show the project (including proper links to the artist, or previous works) but check out this video (which as of now has less than 300 hits) to see the simple yet effective trompe l’oeil the two artists created, and hope that the two release more pictures, and more fantastic public projects, in 2014. (via streetartutopia)
Mark Jenkins’ sculptures occupy the uncanny valley. His work, in which he recreates the human body, places “people” into odd and often disturbing situations. Some of them are as fantastic as they are strange. One of the most interesting parts of Jenkins’ work is the way they are installed. His people are on the streets. They are life sized and dressed in conventional clothing, so they look as though they belong in the landscape. In reality, they don’t. His sculptures are standing in trash cans, on the edge of buildings, face first into a public fountain, and more.
Seeing Jenkins’ work amongst people is partially what makes it so successful. Seeing the reactions of others to these sculptures is both amusing and at times discerning. People walk by them as if they are nothing, as if they are completely normal. Sure, they stare at them, but they are never captured intervening on their behalf. Some, of course, aren’t believable. Others, like a woman stuck in a trashcan or laying on the top of the billboard would elicit some reaction. But, instead, she remains in the can.
The subversive nature of Jenkins’ installations is satisfying, especially if you are in on the joke and know it’s all fake. You could watch people for hours as they pass by, try and interact with the sculptures, and ultimately fail. The artist is taking the art outside the gallery and entering a world that combines art lovers and non-art lovers alike. (Via Hi Fructose)