There are a lot of very clever artists who are always on the lookout for that perfect opportunity to create and display a piece of work… whether it be a crack in the road or a tree situated in just the right place to become part of the art.
It’s these instances that I enjoy the most. Someone taking something as mundane and boring as a crack in the pavement and turning it into something beautiful.
Something that wakes the passerby from their everyday slumber. Something that makes people pay attention to their surroundings… and appreciate them.
This type of art also pushes the boundaries of what can be perceived as art. In everyday life a crack in the pavement wouldn’t get so much as a second look, but some artists can take something like this and transform it into something interesting, exciting, and even fun!
Here are a few artists and their work that I think are really great at turning the normal boring surroundings into something way more interesting…
Suso33 describes his work as ‘public space art‘. Suso33 is a really interesting artist; he has a background in graffiti but eventually found that he “needed something more… to give another twist with which can satisfy the creative needs seething inside”.
I like this piece because he’s taken a somewhat weathered, crumbling building and added colour and the chance for the passerby to see it in a different light.
I love this one too because of how dark, gritty and provoking it is. The charcoal effect against the soft pastel stone makes the work POP. The passerby asks themselves: Why these faces? Why this idea? And why here?
His recent works – the creation of ‘faces’ – are now widely recognised but his expression doesn’t stop there. The rest of his work is just as boundary-pushing – read this great interview with MTN-World and watch the vids (all in Spanish, so Google translate if you can’t read it) – you can tell he’s full of restless creative energy.
It’s pretty amazing to watch him spraying with two hands at once, and also using the fumigator and other high-pressure tools to throw the paint at the wall from a distance.
Hula is known for his pieces that interact with water, particularly tides and moving water.
This one stands out firstly because of the location – a rusty, sunken boat being one of the coolest places I can think of – and secondly, the woman he’s painted. She appears to be drowning yet her face is calm…
Personally I think this boat is eye-catching even without the art, but I see a lot of beauty in broken-down, weathered and abandoned urban spaces. With the addition of the art on the side, it might make people look longer… challenge their ideas of what art can be and where it can be found.
After having looked through his work, what I really love about all the woman he paints is how ‘normal’ they look – as if he’s just picked people off the street. And I mean that in the most complimentary way. It’s almost like he’s taken someone’s girlfriend and made her natural beauty part of the beauty of the urban space (intentional or not, I don’t know, but I love it).
This is a guy who is constantly pushing the boundaries – check out his recent work on ice!
Oakoak is pretty famous for his witty little pieces that interact with the public space in ways that entertain the passerby. In fact, he’s made it his signature style.
I love this piece because it’s simple, yet I don’t see that many pieces that use a picture frame’s glass inner as the medium upon which to place the work. It’s also interesting because it’s ‘temporary’ – this piece only exists as long as the person is holding up the glass.
It’s cool though that OakOak saw this grass verge and thought it reminded him of old Nintendo games – and then had to make sure he got the perspective right when painting on the characters so it actually fit the zig zags in the grass.
See, the more you think about it, the more you realise it must’ve taken quite a bit of forethought to get this piece to work, even though it looks really simple!
OakOak is definitely one of those artists that is always looking out for opportunities to turn the mundane into something way more exciting.
Phlegm’s project ‘The Woods’ (situated in Epping Forest, UK) involved him camping in the forest for a month and completing a small installation or art piece every day, within the boundaries of the forest. Some of the work was pre-made but most of it was made whilst in the forest – and then placed within it for creative effect.
Phlegm’s sketchy but realistic-looking characters are instantly recognisable; most of which are painted on walls and within more urban settings.
Placing them within the trees brings the forest to life in a way that is really different to how it’s usually viewed. Most people can find beauty in nature, but the addition of Phlegm’s work makes it playful and exciting. It’s like the forest has become part of a storybook.
Phlegm’s work always reminds me of A Nightmare Before Christmas… it’s cool to see his characters and illustrations come to life within the context of nature rather than a city or street, in a way that makes them look 3D. It feels like an animated stop-motion movie becoming part of reality.
I’m including Roadsworth because of the diversity and genius of his work.
Although I like artists that are known for a signature theme or style, Roadsworth doesn’t really have one.
Instead, he seems to have an expansive portfolio of creative, boundary-pushing experimentation within the urban or public space. He uses walls, benches, floors… whatever he can find!
Some of his pieces are inspired by other artists or styles, some are just playful, some are experimental… But all of them are eye-catching and make an average street, wall, or path look far more interesting!
Roadsworth was actually arrested and charged with 53 counts of public mischief in 2004, however he was let go after he received much public support. Since then he has created work for exhibitions, arts festivals and events… and it doesn’t look like he’ll be stopping anytime soon.
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