People have always felt the urge to inscribe their names on natural and man-made objects in public space, particularly when visiting special places abroad. This phenomenon indeed dates back all the way to prehistory.
It would be an understatement to assert that street art, which emerges in all (in)conceivable sorts and sizes, is multifaceted. Indeed, painted surfaces of huge proportions are alternated with interventions on a human scale. Abundant use of colours and materials is side by side with aesthetic minimalism. Imaginative images are interspersed with realistic depictions while visual jokes are juxtaposed with serious messages.
Cobbled streets, white wooden houses, a cathedral of modest proportions dating back to 1150, impressive views over the water and a colossal bridge that links the islands together. It’s Stavanger in a nutshell.
Forget about the predictable and tedious advertising posters at bus shelters and on billboards. Instead, scan less prominent places in public space and notice that it is there that much more beautiful, exciting and important things are advertised. Artists, illustrators, photographers, musicians, bloggers, activists, small clothing lines and others promote themselves through sticker art – the most common form of street art.
Art in museums is carefully preserved and, if necessary, restored in order to be kept indefinately. Street art, on the other hand, is finite by its very nature. Fleetingness is in fact one of its defining features.
When street art emerged at the end of the previous century, it was revolutionary in the sense that it concerns art that is not intended to end up in a white cube – typically a place where an admission fee is charged, where you have to keep your distance to the works exhibited, where attendants keep an eye on you and where taking pictures may not be allowed.
It’s hard to find a draughtsman, painter, sculptor or street artist who hasn’t followed the example of artists from earlier periods. More often than not, works of art have been (partly) inspired by other works of art, it’s safe to say. In all its diversity, street art has not only been influenced by many other art movements, but is also full of references to art.
The heart; in Christian symbolism it generally refers to Jesus, in some areas it’s being associated with intelligence and wisdom, while virtually everywhere in the world it’s also, if not primarily, known as the symbol of love. All over the globe, the heart is one of the most commonly used emblems. From a very young age, children are well-acquainted with the significance of the stylised outlines and the bright red colour.
Of het nu gaat om spotprenten, imitaties of toespelingen op tv, in het theater of in de literatuur, van oudsher wordt maar al te graag de draak gestoken met politici en wereldleiders. In de street art is dit niet anders; kunstenaars schromen niet om op ludieke wijze te laten blijken …
A delightful chaos comprised of arbitrary pictures and words that even after repeated viewings allows you to spot new things. What can this be other than a collage? Throughout the centuries, collage-like application techniques appear at different moments and in different locations, but it was only after 1900 – in conjunction with the rise of modernism and courtesy of the pioneers George Braque and Pablo Picasso – that this art form made a real breakthrough.
As is evident from the numerous images of spray cans, marker pens and paint rollers that can be found on the streets, you cannot but conclude that graffiti and street artists are very keen to call attention to the material that enables them to display their artistic skills. Art about making art, or in other words; meta art.
Many graffiti and street artists have elevated a self-invented cartoonesque figure to become a trademark. KBTR and Oxalien are two glaring examples. The hot-tempered dwarf with his red pointed hat and the inflated bubble of pink chewing gum with horns and sharp teeth, have spread across large parts of the Netherlands like a virus.
‘‘Get outta here, a page full of cat pictures? How dare you come up with that and how do you think you'll get away with it?’’ Well yes, that's what I've been asking myself too... On a World Wide Web that is ceaselessly inundated with honey-sweet and quasi-comical cat content, this contribution can just as well be omitted, right? Or cannot at all be missed? Who shall say?