I Spray For You Next time I go painting you are welcome to tag along!

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.

This is a centuries-old practice. Classic workshop scenes show a bustling place where apprentices learn to become oil painters and accommodate their master by making powder paint or preparing panels. Once they had mastered the profession, there was no better way of showing it than by making a self-portrait which naturally included a palette, brushes and an easel. The artist and his materials captured in a single picture.  

Workplace (imaginary) of Jan van Eyck, Jan van der Straet (circa 1600)
Self-portraits of Judith Leyster (circa 1630), Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert (1617), Vincent van Gogh (1887-1888) and René Magritte (‘La Clairvoyance’, 1936)

Contrary to what is commonplace in painting, (realistic) self-portraits in street art are a rarity. After all, a lot of street artists attach great importance to staying anonymous. That isn’t to say, however, that as a result we have to make do with a boring old piece of tin. If the spray can isn’t depicted as a cheerful little fellow himself, the object is simply placed in the hands of ‘someone’ with a mouth-cap or a hood, or entrusted to E.T., Yoda, Braveheart, Jesus or Rembrandt. Or, for that matter, the Scandalist, a bloke who looks like a gangster who is armed. And so he is, albeit not with a gun but with two spray cans, a red one and a blue one. And that’s only for the better. Ultimately, every sensible person will likely approve of the slogan ‘make art, not war’. I spray for you!

Warsaw
Lyon
Oslo
London
Basel
Paris
Berlin
Brussels
Brussels
The Hague
Tilburg
Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Heerlen
Stavanger
Rotterdam
Amsterdam
Brussels
Drammen
Basel
Bergen, Norway
Basel
Madrid
New York
Amsterdam
Brussels
Bergen, Norway
Vienna
Oslo
Amsterdam
Rotterdam
Strasbourg
Brussels
Stavanger
Marseille
Nîmes
Amsterdam
London
Stockholm
Amsterdam
Brussels
Cologne
Stavanger
Utrecht
Mechlin
Amsterdam
Cologne
Ede
Marseille
Bergen, Norway
Amsterdam
Lyon
Berlin
Amsterdam
Brussels
Amsterdam
Oslo
Eindhoven
Amsterdam
Cologne
Bergen, Norway
Amsterdam
Wrocław
Amsterdam
Brussels
Paris
Freiburg im Breisgau
Amsterdam
Montpellier
Oslo
Marseille
Amsterdam
Antwerp
Amsterdam
Stavanger
Brussels
Montpellier
Amsterdam
Utrecht
Marseille
Montpellier
Antwerp
Amsterdam
Paris
Stavanger
Amsterdam
Bergen, Norway
Brussels
Leiden
Flekkefjord
Amsterdam
Heerlen
Amsterdam
Oslo
Stavanger
Nîmes
Brussels
Bergen, Norway
Amsterdam
Brussels
Cartagena
Oslo
Amsterdam
Marseille
Brussels
London
Amsterdam
Stavanger
Lyon
Sandvika
Oslo
Antwerp
Amsterdam
Brussels
Mons
Grenoble
Stavanger
Amsterdam