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The contemporary art scene boasts a wealth of interesting creatives, however the best artistry demonstrative and indicative of the last few years can be sourced from the realm of street art. Now generally more accepted, street art is the best way to represent today’s society. It tells something of the hunger for creative space as a re-appropriation of rights. Graffiti and street art are thus becoming revered as artistic styles throughout the world and to be on top of the trend, we check out five great artists to keep in mind.
Born in Senigallia, Italy, and based in Bologna, Blu is known for his unsigned, large-scale paintings. His recognizable hand represents humanoid characters infused with strong social and political tensions that prompted the enforced removal of some of the pieces. From the early works in Bologna using spray paint, Blu extended his technique, making short films as Muto, winner of the Grand Prix Festival ‘Clermont Ferrand’ in 2009. He also made a collaborative animation with the American artist David Ellis and others with famous street artists such as Italian Ericailcane and Portuguese Os Gemeos. Following time spent in Bolivia, Blu is now in Mexico, where he has been invited by Fifty24MX to work on a new piece for the ManifestoMX Street Art Festival.
Gionata Gesi attended the Fine Arts Academy of Florence before moving to Milan to begin his street art career as Ozmo. In the social centre Leoncavallo, defined by the Italian art critic Sgarbi as ‘A contemporary Sistine Chapel’, he painted one of his best known artworks chosen as a book cover for I graffiti del Leoncavallo, published by Skira. Unlike many other street artists, he is in close contact with galleries. In 2007, he was chosen to represent the latest trend in contemporary art in Arte Italiana 1968–2007 Pittura, featured alongside historical artists as De Chirico.
Maybe the most famous artist in popular culture, nobody knows Banksy’s true identity. His anti-conventional and anti-institutional point of view makes his stencils different from everyone else, employing high levels of irony and contentious slogans. His name hit the big-time in 1998, when he organized Walls on Fire. Banksy is also widely known for his genius, introducing to museums the idea of 18th century paintings revived with desecrating elements that speak volumes of the current climate. Due to his incredible success, a recent order has been placed to cover some of Banksy’s most iconic work in Bristol with glass, to protect them from vandals and thieves. Banksy has lately released a new video that shows his new art works in Gaza, Palestine, underlining the importance of taking an active position against the war.
Paulo Arraiano is a Portuguese artist based in the Citadela Art District of Cascais. His art works are organic, with splashes of color visible amongst the city’s grey streets. He uses thick brush strokes to cover part of buildings and attempts to employ every kind of media and re-figure them as paintings. As the artist himself said, he wants to instil the energy of nature in people and create a sense of self-worth. Arraiano also works on canvas, creating a neat and clean contrast that exemplifies the differences between street art and museum works. His most recent pieces are for Gallerie Itinerante, the French gallery responsible for revolutionary exhibit such as Paris 13.
Born Guido Bisagni, 108 took a degree in design at the Politecnico in Milan. Fascinated by Kandisky, Arp and the early 19th century, he became involved with writing, evolving his style to the numbering technique. His art works are minimalist and abstract. 108’s intent is to create openings through which viewers may exit the reality of the every day. Thanks to his paintings, he’s very popular among art galleries, as demonstrated by his many solo exhibits around the world. Trying to find the perfect medium, Guido Bisagni also makes music, an important aspect of his artistic life, participating as a fixed member of Corpoparassita.