Perhaps more so than any other form of art, street art has the capacity to engage with the neighborhood its found in. The work of artist Ernest Zacharevic, also known simply as ZACH, takes this to a literal extent. ZACH’s murals are often found interacting with features of the building or objects nearby. A bike leaning against the wall becomes a vehicle for a spray painted child or dock posts become giant pencils. ZACH highlights the life of the city in a way by actually making it come alive. The walls seem poised to interact with passersby, and encourage engagement.
The street artist Basik has a singular style. Though often sparse in color, his murals don’t lack in detail. The compositions seem extensively planned. No component is set without intention as if its precise creation were some sort of ritual. Basik’s extreme attention to line is rare in the aerosol can wielding medium. He says of his work:
“I found human and animal bodies, especially hands and weird face expressions, very captivating. I started a research about lines, shapes and solid aspects of the colours. Subjects painted are often idealized and slightly surreal. Strokes become bones, while paint’s matter turns into flesh. I love to make my works on useless and broken items. Painting becomes more intense and dramatic whilst the support gets a whole new dimension and dignity.”
The photographic murals of Mike Hewson don’t exactly decorate the buildings they inhabit. Rather, the murals create surreal optical illusions, highlighting the buildings by nearly making them disappear. Hewson, creatively uses perspective to erase walls or even entire structures. In some of his work this reveals the buildings inside – its purpose being put to use. Other times, his work interacts with the building in order to recall an empty space or a space’s potential. Hewson’s murals hints not only at structures that we’d often take for granted, but our often overlooked relationships with them.
The Argentinian street artist known simply as Elian works with a clean and seemingly effortless style rare in street art. While his large abstract murals would be at home on a magazine page, they work to a powerful effect inhabiting entire sides of buildings. Often using colors reminiscent of a graphic designers CMYK color palette, Elian maximizes the simplicity of each mural. A buildings bland blank wall becomes a space for an exercise in composition and color.
Street Artist Joe Boruchow is an expert at manipulating positive and negative space. His work intertwines stark black and white graphic cut outs, often cleverly playing each off the other. Boruchow’s street art compositions are made up of simple but powerful images, wheat paste posters in public spaces. He interacts with his work, much like a stencil or etching, indeed, frequently creating corresponding cut paper pieces of his posters. While adeptly balancing positive and negative space in each poster, Boruchow also give careful attention to the postivie and negative space of the city. His posters can be found filling empty areas of doorways, windows, and walls.
Artists David Ellis and Blu blended two art forms that rarely meet: street art and animation. Throughout the video the mural takes over an entire building unfolding through a stop motion style. At times the art playfully utilizes aspects of the structure’s architecture – a style Blu has expertly developed in his work (for example, check out the first piece in this post.) The artists tirelessly paint and repaint images to further the animated sequence. Amazing images are quickly covered over to make way for the next image. The labor necessary was certainly staggering as is the self-control necessary to paint over pieces that were just complete.
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.
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.