Urban Art: The Art for the People Essay
Urban Art: The Art for the People
If one would take a stroll down the metro, he/she would notice the appearance of the streets and have a one-word comment: Graffiti. Graffiti or street art is a notorious form of urban art found on the walls of public property, and is often regarded as vandalism by the onlookers. No matter where this art form is found, it is generally unaccepted by majority of the people. What people fail to realize is that this urban art is a branch of contemporary art, and this public art in particular gives color to the city walls.
This art form is no different than traditional art, for street art is a very modern form of art and does have an audience of enthusiasts. Sometimes street art even makes it way into galleries where people herd to glimpse at work by internationally known urban artists. Look at Banksy: he is a well-known British urban artist notorious for his social, political, and cultural issue themed stencil art installed all over the globe, and his prints go for incredible prices during online auctions that many people anticipate.
More often than not, urban art is defaced by other street artists or, if the art is found locally, covered by the MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) art. According to Jareen Imam of CNN. com, the nature of street art is “spontaneous, public, fleeting. ” An urban artist will stumble upon a white wall and place his design on it, and over time it will be covered by other work from other artists. Eventually, this canvas will be repainted and another artist will find this wall and place his own work. It becomes a cycle.
Street art is designed in such a way that it can be renewed timelessly; this is the true essence of street art: freedom. Although urban art is more socially accepted as vandalism than art, the local government units should support the urban artists and their endeavors. What the government does not see is the potential of these urban artists and their artworks. Some urban artworks are designed to portray social issues that more people should be aware of, however these go unnoticed despite the fact that they are located in public areas and these artworks are labeled as “drawings on the wall.
” Other artists simply have the passion to decorate their cities when they go out on the streets and paint their murals, in hopes of satisfying their dreams to give color to the dull city walls. Yet, their efforts are ignored and not appreciated by many. Instead of regarding it as a form of vandalism, urban art should be accepted for the social issues they advocate and should be supported by the local government units. URBAN ART IS A REPRESENTATION OF A STREET ARTISTS’ INTERESTS There are evidences of urban artists being considered “art geniuses” for putting their thoughts on display.
Artworks of these urban artists reflect their inspirations and highlight their art techniques. There is an array of street art techniques other than spray paint and stenciling, such as engraving, street sculpture installing, or sometimes even mosaic tiling. On urban art techniques and inspirations. It was common for posters to be placed on the streets and for them to be layered one on top of the other. An artist named Vhils used this to his advantage and created images and texts by cutting the layered papers. Later, he utilized walls of abandoned properties and sculpted his art there.
Instead of the usual spray painted graffiti, the image was engraved into the public canvas itself. Vhils’ technique worked with the recurring theme of his work, which was to present the figures in his street art as ghosts (Manco 267). This kind is different from the usual styles since it uses layered papers and even an old wall. This is rare to find since most street art is done with cans of spray paint; however it is a curiosity as to knowing whether it is aesthetics that make urban art ugly, since the most commonly found street works are done with banal techniques.
However, urban art is not just an exhibition of technique, but also a manifestation of the artist’s inspiration. For the street artist Tinho, he believes that emotions and personal feelings are what brings his works to life. His work concerns the use of children figures, which alludes to the innocence, hope, and to the “inner child” of the viewer (Manco 233). A multi-talented artist, Dran is one who speaks through the use of art to express his opinions. He was inspired by the comic book artists he was exposed to growing up.
At the age of eight, he met a classmate who knew how to draw, and Dran seeing his work, decided to try for himself (95-96). More artists discover their passion for art through illustrations they see in everyday household items, and for Dran, it was comic books. Some street artists use themes and figures that are close to them because they are easy to relate to. The closer the artist is to the theme they work around them, more emotions will be expressed through their works. The more comfortable the artist is with their designs, the more obvious the messages or emotions are in the image.
These ideas from the artists become easier to see and the viewer will have an easier time sympathizing with the emotions the artist was trying to convey. On the public canvas. The canvas where the work will be displayed is the most important part of street art. It can be a wall, a vehicle, or anything as long as it is seen by the public eye and is essential to its composition (McCormick et al. 23). There is a quote from urban artist Banksy from his book Wall and Piece, “a wall has always been the best place to publish your work” (8).
Walls have multiple purposes. They can keep people in and out, and be used for placing hooks where the picture frames will be hung or used as a canvas. Take a look at a blank canvas and compare it to a wall: a wall may be made of concrete, but once it is painted with a primer, it can be utilized as a place to paint and express one’s feelings. There is not much difference between a canvas and a wall; the former may be smaller, but both can still be painted on and placed on exhibit.
The big difference is that walls, specifically on the street, are the better place to put art for everyone, and anyone can see it without admission fee. The canvas of the artwork is essential to urban art because it has an effect on its composition. Think of it as using mixed media: each element has an effect on the work as a whole. For instance, one can use a subway as a street art canvas to emphasize social issues concerning transportation injustices. The existence of social issue-centered street art. Though graffiti is considered ugly by majority, it is an honest and powerful art form.
Because this can be found on walls in public areas, graffiti is available for all to see with no price. It has been utilized to win the voice and minds of the people and has the capacity to create rebellions. (Banksy 2). There is also another quote from Banksy’s book “Wall and Piece” regarding the significance of urban art and reiterating the fact that graffiti is a very impartial form: Despite what they say [sic] graffiti is not the lowest form of art. Although you might have to creep about at night and lie to your mum [sic] it’s actually one of the more honest art forms available.
There is no elitism or hype, it exhibits on the best walls a town has to offer and nobody is put off by the price of admission (8). Banksy, a well known personality almost all over the world for his socially relevant and sometimes outrageous public stints, has a description of graffiti which can be agreed upon for this art comes from the liberal-minded. According to Sara Cochran of the Phoenix Art Museum, graffiti is a form of art that has existed long before it was even given its name. This form of art is an expression of the creator and relies on his or her individuality (Imam).
Graffiti has been accepted as a form of art from the ancient ages, since graffiti has been located in caves that were said to be occupied by cavemen. Most people question the relevance of graffiti, and a curator of the Phoenix Art Museum came forth and stated that graffiti, however crude it may be perceived, is an expression of the creator and his or her individuality. There are different types of graffiti seen on the streets: those that are simply just vulgar words scrawled across the wall in spray paint, and those that are given time and effort into, as seen by how it is.
Think of it this way: there is the creator and there is the pen utilized to release emotions. The creator is the urban artist and the pen is the medium. Banksy stated that though it may cause a rebellious attitude, he describes graffiti as a truthful art form. This makes sense because this form of art is done in places for all the people to see, and for one to get the word out about social, political, or cultural issues, the easiest way to pass the message is to place it on display. Street art also has different uses and possibly identities besides vandalism.
It is an art that can move many because the design is painted fresh from the street artist’s mind, and will be seen by the masses and have them thinking. Through this thinking, they will then begin to inquire about whatever issue the street art they saw was addressing and this may spark a revolution in the viewer’s mind. Sara Cochran, curator at the Phoenix Art Museum, points out that this art form can be used as a tool to inform society about certain issues. Since urban art is often seen in public, artists use these accessible places as canvases for their artwork, which have underlying messages.
An example would be Konstantin Dimopoulos’ work that gives importance to global deforestation. There is importance in urban art seeing as it is put on display and would be seen by many. It may just seem like some sort of aesthetic job to cover a plain looking wall, however there are some forms of graffiti that are done to relay messages around. There are so many social issues in the world that no one takes time to notice them, and street artists take the liberty of creating murals that give emphasis to the issue.
By doing so, and since urban art is public, a multitude of people get to see it and become aware of the social issues. Urban art is powerful. However, urban art is not utilized just to make the community aware of social, political, or cultural issues. Urban artists have the power to spark revolutions with messages they convey through their art. In a book entitled “MAYDAY” dedicated to urban artist Shepard Fairey, Antonino D’Ambrosio wrote about how this movement came to be.
MAYDAY was a movement initiated by Shepard Fairey, which is more commonly known as the OBEY movement. He began this move to exploit the political and cultural issues in America. Through this, the youth began to pay attention to Fairey’s designs and acted upon it (33). Fairey designed MAYDAY as propaganda. He took the challenge Martin Luther King left, which was to create a person-oriented society from a thing-oriented society. It then began as a revolution which targeted political and cultural issues, and soon became a part of history (34).
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