hyde & seek working on a new art piece

Hyde & Seek

In a small town in Bowden, Australia, a collaborative street art team is growing at an alarming rate. They’re known for not sitting still, media-wise, and coming up with striking new works from materials as varied as coloured cups, toy soldiers, and yes, even chewing gum.

Like many street artists today, Hyde & Seek are eschewing public identities to just let their work speak entirely on their behalf. Well, that’s not entirely true. Hyde & Seek has a large online presence: Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter are all filled with their work, including plenty of cross-postings and their own extensive Facebook photo collection. The pair, we assume it’s a pair because of their wording in posts, have documented a bit of their process, but they also just love close-ups to show off the technical side of their work.

chew barrymore chewing gum artwork by hyde & seek

Mixed media may be the best descriptor of Hyde & Seek’s work. It started with Chew Barrymore, which gained a sort of viral status in the online street art community, and went from there. Chew Barrymore was a portrait of the actress made entirely from, well, chewing gum. It’s a bit of a marvel, not just for its chosen medium, but because the portrait wears their most immediate influence on their sleeve: Andy Warhol. The bright colours combined with washed-out aesthetics falls right into Warhol’s chosen palettes for the many portraits he did over the years. Of course, I think Hyde & Seek decided not to do the repetition probably to avoid sore jaws!

hyde & seek fence artwork in adelaide

After their strong debut, Hyde & Seek have shown up in a number of places in what we imagine to be their hometown. The most recent being an affinity for fences. Two pieces have shown up in the past few months. The first, a woman blowing the petals of a flower, made entirely from coloured cups shoved into a chain link fence. They pushed the idea a little further with their most recent project: a series of coloured swatches also lodged into a chainlink fence. The result is a beautiful eye in a detailed background. Both expand the canvas on which street art can happen. Chainlink fences are most famous for their transparency and ability to collect trash, not as a place for striking, and opaque, artwork.

hyde & seek street artists toy soldier piece

Perhaps my personal favourite Hyde & Seek piece is their piece using tiny toy soldiers. You know, the green ones in Toy Story with the fixed bases? The team gathered a bunch of these and made a painting of a man break dancing. Dance, as Brazilian Capoeira teaches us, is often linked to resistance and fighting, even as it remains an intrinsically passive mode of resistance. The juxtaposition of the break dancer and the soldiers from which he is created highlight the relationship between war and dance.

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Of course, Hyde & Seek’s most “sharable” pieces are their Stop signs, which paste additional words onto stop signs for some humour or calls to stop growing hipster beards. Snarky, decontextualized, and smirk-worthy, these signs have been showing up all over. Now hopefully people aren’t stealing them, which can sometimes be an issue for defamed street signs, which is never good for drivers.

Hyde & Seek are on their way up despite keeping their identities very quiet. Be sure to keep an eye out for their next imaginary use of some completely new and underused materials.

Sargy Mann

Sargy Mann: A Blind Painter Who’s Changing the Way We All See Painting

There are many examples of people with disabilities who showed extraordinary talent. Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, both extremely gifted musicians who were also blind are just a couple of examples. And while we often think that sight is required for many activities, we see time and time again that people with visual impairments can create stellar art, whether it’s music or, yes, painting. Despite their limitations, many artists with various disabilities are able to bring a unique perspective to the world around us.

One such artist is Sargy Mann, an English painter who paints now even after losing his sight 25 years ago. Originally trained under professional painters Frank Auerbach and Euan Uglow, Mann’s education in painting was in realism. Unlike other styles, which call for representations of dreams, interiority, or something else, realism is about your own, very personal, way of viewing the world. And while cataracts took Mann’s sight at the age of 36, his way of seeing the world only got more unique, more nuanced, and more challenging.

“My world had become greyer and hotter,” Mann said in an interview with The Guardian. “I was a human spectroscope such that I could see that a sodium streetlamp was monochrome because it only had an orange halo.” His gradually dimming sight was not a burden to his art. Instead, it was awakening him to an entirely different way of seeing. And as the years have gone on, and his own sight steadily deteriorated, his unique vision of realism begins to emphasize memory, interiority, the world as remembered and seen through eyes unlike the bulk of society. Mann’s disability has instead challenged his former tutors’ lessons in ways that create a new way of seeing, both for the artist and the audience.

And while some may point to Mann’s disability as a selling feature to his art, those critics have clearly not seen the beautiful colours, the vivid images, and the extreme talent that is evident in every single one of Mann’s paintings. And it’s not like he really needs to worry about detractors, he has enough fans and inquisitive art fiends standing in line to pay four and five figure sums for his work. The price, for some, is a steal.

What Sargy Mann’s artwork proves is that painting, just like music or dance or any other sort of creative enterprise, is pushed forward and defined by the people who see differently. Whether it’s Beethoven’s deafness never stopping him from creating some of the world’s most amazing music, or from a blind John Milton dictating Paradise Lost, all of these brilliant minds came at the world differently. Sometimes that comes from disability, sometimes life experience, or even mental illness. But in every instance, those who dare to see differently, who overcome despite limitations, are the ones who create the new standard for others to aspire.

animated mural art aerial photograph

INSA and a Small Army of Painters Made the World’s Biggest GIF

Even with street art, we often think of painting as capturing some sort of singular moment or idea. It stands still. It can reference something coming or look backwards to something that happened, it can be erased or added to, but it always stays still. This, along with many, many other assumptions, is something INSA thinks the world can do differently.

The artist, who prefers to keep his identity secret, believes that the internet has changed art, and that this gives artists an incredible opportunity to change the way traditional notions of painting are expressed. For INSA, it started with the GIF (check out Gif-iti), those almost slideshow type pictures we see online. They’ve been used for everything from silly animations to seemingly sustaining Buzzfeed, but they all rely on a variety of still images that are given the illusion of movement. Y’know, like animation.

INSA saw this idea and decided to apply the idea of the gif to street art, starting with creating gifs from his own paintings. Usually, he would paint a wall, take a picture, paint over the wall and paint another picture, and do this until he had enough pictures to create a gif. From there, he uploads it online for people to see. These all show off INSA’s obvious talents and breadth of style, but he wanted to do something bigger. Much, much bigger. Like, seen from space bigger.

So INSA headed down to one of the world’s best street art countries, Brazil, to make a gif that you can see from space. With detailed ideas about what he wanted, he employed a small army to paint a large, open concrete pad with four different images, one a day for when a satellite came over and took a picture. The result is the world’s first gif seen from a satellite.

The experiment resulted in 576 man hours and 57,515 square miles of painted surface, all in just four days, to create his biggest art project yet. The gif itself is of pink and yellow hearts, inverting in colour each day and moving slightly over to create the movement. It’s perfect for the setting: taking in Brazil’s love of bold colour schemes while sending a message of love out to the world, and the heavens.

True to his love of anonymity, INSA’s face and eyes are blocked from the camera, and he spends the video giving credit to those people that put in the long hours and hard work to make his vision possible. And once it’s out on the internet, he’s happy to continue to take a back seat. “I think the possibility of interpretation is limited when people think of the singular creator.” Like so much on the internet today, INSA prefers to leave the real discussions to the comments section.