Historically there is a lot of debate on whether street art is to be qualified to hold a worthy high praise tag such as art. The craft of creative work has always carried a complicated definition. Without it, we would’ve never had a device for questioning the narrative of implied regulatory norms, social justice, global warfare & topics of present importance.
Yes, to the freedom of expression, it is an absolute shame that graffiti entrepreneurs are the ones who are being called criminals & or vandals as they cross the boundary of property ownership, they are the ones being called in for earning an intricate relationship in the realm of creative work.
Historically there is a lot of debate on whether street art is to be qualified to hold a worthy high praise tag such as art. The craft of creative work has always carried a complicated definition. Without it, we would’ve never had a device for questioning the narrative of implied regulatory norms, social justice, global warfare & topics of present importance. With it, we receive a field that is boxed & ostracised for being brutally honest, raw, authentic, yet undermining itself in revolution & power of change-transformation.
In regards to exposure, street art specifically brings these themes up the notch, since it is unapologetic to the spaces & places it occupies. It doesn’t ask for permission or if it does – very rarely, because the art of this sort doesn’t have a place of limit or explicit explanation, it will knock on your door, tag you in the post, stop you on the street for simply being there & us, being on the side of the audience being prompted to reflect, as in the case we don’t we do hold expectations that are disrespectful & neglectful by abandoning the essence of individuality, citizens such all of us are inherently. There are borders within: is this a national pride, is this a global-rescue-calling, is this a value of historical matter? On top of which – they all intersect, interact & interrupt each other.
Can we try to define art? Let’s try. Art is the expression or application of human creative skill & imagination, typically in a visual form, recorded, painted, or sculptured, producing work to be appreciated primarily for its beauty or emotional power, but also triggering for its theme & diversity of interpretation. True artists always have a different angle to view through, agree on disagreements & ask rudimental statements for their validity & place of being.
Yes, to the freedom of expression, it is an absolute shame that graffiti entrepreneurs are the ones who are being called criminals & or vandals as they cross the boundary of property ownership, they are the ones being called in for earning an intricate relationship in the realm of creative work. What harm can & do they do? Is it all about an issue of respect & acceptance? But it takes two to notice the opportunity to accept the situation differently. It takes the other side to see the invitation in the mural on their neighborhood wall, but not as a threat of their privacy. It’s about the basics of confinement.
What are the examples of street art acceptance?
Urban art specialist, Mary McCarthy, believes that street art is a tool for change. She states that street art speaks as a form of spiritual survival and starts at a place of rebellion. “It was often the only tool of the poverty stricken, the disenfranchised, to communicate their stories, their sense of place”, says McCarthy. The Urban specialist explains that when you have little to nothing, being able to “claim” something as yours, gives you ownership of your community, or place. Street art is a mark of identity and serves as a medium for the future. McCarthy believes that the Street Art Movement has gone beyond all art movements to date. “Stylistically, politically, and socially it has inspired, challenged and changed people’s lives positively across the world” (“Street Art as A Tool for Change”), implies McCarthy. She notes that artists are now using their environments as canvases and that street artists create their works “from walls to railings, from wood to metal, from buildings to vehicles”. McCarthy describes this act as unprecedented. Like other supporters of street art, she agrees that it has a diverse effect. With the streets as a medium, individuals can express & broadcast their voices. In agreeance with McCarthy, this type of communication has an influence on rhetoric and opinion; throughout the community to the people. The Urban specialist uses many examples to show how influential street art can be. One example given is Shepherd Fairey’s “Hope” image, which was reproduced across the world by pro-Obama supporters.
What is the origin of street art as we know of it today?
Just after the French Revolution came to an end, graffiti in the United States began to pop up on railroad boxcars. Heading into the 20th century, particularly in the midst of the Great Depression, graffitied boxcars grew in numbers as drifters, who often wrote on the sides of the cars, rode the railroads from coast to coast. In the 20s and 30s, gangs that used graffiti were on the rise in southwestern cities in US like Los Angeles. During World War II, soldiers found comradery through a graffiti-esque tag that read ‘KILROY WAS HERE!’ and was commonly accompanied by a drawing of a long-nosed man peering over a wall.
As the 1980s turned into the 1990s and the 2000s, the popular graffiti art of Keith Haring and Basquiat developed into a new artistic movement: street art. While many artists still employ spray can, street art has also come along with a new arsenal of hybrid artistic approaches such as printmaking, drawing, collage, and stickers. A comparison between the environment or “canvas” of the graffiti artists from the 1970s and 1980s and the street artists of the last two decades recognizes that while both use walls of private property, the street artists have taken after their name and literally moved their art off of the walls and onto the street.
Street art is one of the most hybrid forms of artistic expression in our modern world because its purpose is to draw upon what the viewers know and manipulate the physicality of the subject to make their point. The artists of the movement have “combined punk and hip-hop attitude with learned skills and knowledge of recent art movements” (Irvine). While perhaps the artist with the most notoriety of this movement, Bansky has embraced all of the aesthetic and theological elements of the art and provides an excellent example of how the genre has not only spread from the walls to the streets but how it has become a socially acceptable form of art despite its illegality.
The main goal of street art was born out of the need to “control…visibility itself” (Irvine, 3). What the artists, such as Bansky, are doing today is changing the manner in which we see “private” space – it is the anti-commercial, the anti-advertising. In this manner, it has strong similarities with pop art and the Warholian movement of the 1960s. Many street artists either present recognizable images from popular culture or distort them. For Bansky, the placement or environment in which he creates his artwork is just as important as what he creates.
Through this journey of transformation, we are finally getting to see that street art & graffiti are worlds that intersect, yet only for the sake of each other’s evolution. So, the present stigma can only remain around the belief of yesterday’s day with graffiti being a mindless pursuit of wild expression, yet street art carries much more delicate value in its language.
To end on the history, who are the inspirations of today’s street art scene besides Bansky:
Vhils. Portuguese-born Alexandre Farto aka Vhils is an amazing, super-talented street artist. Using tools like a power drill, chisel, and different types of paint, Vhils literally scratches off the surface of buildings to create his masterpieces.
His explosive viral video, in which small explosives set off a chain reaction, carving the image into the wall, helped catapult him to international success. In 2014, he was one of 11 artists invited by the band U2 to create music videos for their album Films of Innocence.
Roa. It would be fair to say that Roa’s artistry is on top of the game What really separates him from the rest of the field is the way he adds different layers into a piece, giving his viewers multiple perspectives of the biology behind his animal subjects. It's almost like he has an x-ray vision.
C215. French street artist Christian Guemy aka C215 travels around the world beautifying the streets. He usually paints local faces because, in his words, “faces reflect the personality” of a city. Another continuing theme through his stencil art is portraits of his daughter Nina, who we've seen evolve from a little girl to a young woman.
Through the years his work has become a symbol of stencil art. He exhibits his work widely in France and abroad, also portraying local heroes to support social causes.
Mentalgassi. You have to stand at the perfect angle to see this piece by Mentalgassi. Spotted in Berlin, these pieces are sometimes planted in places you'd probably never look – like on the sidebars of metal fences. In the past, he’s paired with Amnesty International, using this technique to bring attention to social causes.
Hyuro. Hyuro is an Argentinian-born street artist that is currently based out of Valencia, Spain. Her works are full of movement, like animations that unfold directly on the wall. She often deals in themes of motherhood and her work from a female perspective is refreshing on the male -dominated scene. Simply stunning!
SpY. Hailing from Madrid, SpY is a famous urban artist that uses many different mediums. His work consists of playful reappropriation of urban elements, that he replicates or transforms, and then installs on the streets. SpY's pieces are meant to shake up the equilibrium of an urban dweller. His work is full of irony and a positive sense of humor, seeking to inspire a smile and a thought.
Let us hope & praise for street art expression to be an echelon of growing commodity that is valued internationally & supported locally.