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pichiavo painting mural

Artist Group: Pichiavo

Who said that classical art is dead? Who said that classical artwork would never be complemented by graffiti? If there any of you who never thought the classics and graffiti complemented each other, the Pichiavo pair will prove you wrong.

They are the ‘art cocktail masters’ infusing graffiti, classic art, while in-cooperating in sculptures, social text, and space. They are idealistic artists who believe in the complete freedom to express an idea.

These two street artists have a versatile style that is not common today. Whether on paper on canvas you will note the colour, detailed sculptures and texts that are meant to complement the piece being made. They are not like many modern artists who love to give direct messages on their artwork. Their approach gives you a lethargic almost surreal sneak peek into the past. It like the gods and goddesses come alive in their artwork.

Pichi and Avo met in the streets of Valencia Spain both of them engaging in graffiti activities. From the time they met, it was like they synchronized their lives and their artwork. They complement each other’s style like Ying and Yang.

From 2007 the pair has become like brothers. They spend so much time creating art that sometimes it is hard for their fans to tell them apart. They are inspired by the golden age of classical art and the dynamic nature of modern art.

At first, their initial focus was on graffiti based techniques. Later on, they made a decision to make art that reflected both their interest and personality. Since they were already enthralled by Greek mythology and classical art, it was easy to find a style that suited both of them.

pichi avo mural

Pichiavo has pure natural talent which is a big boost if you are trying to make notable art. The other thing that has supported their quest for unique art is the formal education that they have received. In combination, they have formal certification in fine arts and design.

Their work is not politically or religiously inspired and thus have gotten the opportunity to work in many countries. They are true to themselves and tend to shy away from artistic egocentrism. Artistic egocentrism is responsible for personal rows between artists among other qualms. Everyone wants to be the best and have ownership of the centerpiece.

Since they were not trying to go the traditional route, they came to the agreement to paint as equals. Whether they are working on a wall or a canvas they always try to have all the right settings.

pichi avo mural

During an interview with Bombing Science they stated “In terms of walls, we like to know where is the wall and see the environment, ones we have that we play a lot, normally with concepts related to mythology as part of the classical art in base on that, we do a lot of research our self-traveling searching for sculptures and we use that for our work, ones we have the idea of the character we do a sketch where we work more with colors, graffiti… but ones we go to the wall all that is just a reference as we normally freestyle all the background, so at the end, we have freestyle work and more planned work.”

With this kind of detailed work, they have traveled the world to share their art. From Germany, the UK, Belgium, Greece and many other countries. They are yet to work in the US but they have had successful gallery shows in the country.

pichi avo stadium mural

In the past, they have contributed their showmanship to creating notable murals. They were involved in creating the 2016 dolphin stadium mural and the Bowery wall in New York City. They are not done yet however, they have more shows and artwork coming your way.

They continue to evolve their style daily ensuring that they fully develop the concept of their ideas. They are not only an artist but normal people as will engaging in hobbies most of us like. They love to surf, engage in sports, music, and readings in between creating their art based empire.

The world is full of possibilities for this two Spanish artist as they continue to dive into the world of classical and modern art. We can only act as an audience at a great show waiting for the next unveiling.

Practice makes perfect, and at the level of skill that these two work, there is no telling what is next. Watch this space.

 

blek le rat xavier prou painting

Artist Spotlight: Blek le Rat

Xavier Prou or popularly known as Blek Le Rat, a French graffiti artist was born on the 15th of November 1952, in Boulogne-Billancourt, western suburbs of France. Dubbed “The father of stencil graffiti”, Blek Le Rat attended the École Des Beaux Arts in France before graduating in 1982. He is said to be an inspiration to many stencil artists for years such as Banksy and Invader. He is also nicknamed ‘Banquesy’, the French Banksy.

Le Rat gathered inspiration from Blek Le Roc, a French Comic about American trappers during the Revolutionary War and adopted part of the name for his own. Le Rat begun his art in the streets of Paris around 1981 painting rats.  He described his rats as, “only free animal in the city, one which spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art”. Eventually settling for the “rat” name as an anagram of “art”.

Before he graduated, Le Rat visited New York and fell in love with the city’s street art and graffiti in 1971. He returned to France determined to make a difference. And that he did. As he didn’t feel New York’s still would suite his hometown, he decided to go a different route and develop a unique style for Paris. At that time, no artist was using stencils for their work and here’s why Le Rat stood out of the pack. Most street art is deemed illegal and comes with hefty fines. Le Rat didn’t want to spend so much time on the streets due to the police, and hence the genius use of stencils to make it even faster.

example of blek le rat stencil art

The Rise of the Stencil Graffiti King

Canadian artist, Richard Hambleton brought his work to Paris from the US in the early 80s. At this time, Blek Le Rat was already doing his black rats stencils and was inspired by Richards’s larger pieces. So, he began making larger pieces of art and even self-portraits.

Blek creates all his stencils by hand to ensure a perfection and best use street art use. He is credited as the first person to create life-sized stencils and transforming stencils from the then basic imagery done by most artists.

The first meeting of the urban art movement and graffiti was held in Bondy, France in 1985. Blek Le Rat, Leonard Hilton McGurr was known as Futura, Sylvain Perier also known as SP 38, Miss.tick and Olivier Rizzo aka Speedy Graphito, were among those in attendance.

In 1991, Blek dedicated a replica of Madonna di Loreta, by Caravaggio an Italian Baroque master to his then future wife, Sybille. This image is Le Rat’s oldest known artwork. In the making of this replica, the French police identified and arrested Le Rat. This brought about his subsequent use of premade stencils, which made the use more efficient in speed and also avoiding the larger fines that came with being caught in the act.

blek le rat example of stencil art

Competition or Comparison?

Although the two have never met, much comparison has been done in the industry between Blek Le Rat and Banksy artworks. Prou has definitely had influence over Banksy. In the past, Banksy has been quoted saying, “Every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier”. Le Rat’s response to this sentiments was , “People say he copies me, but I don’t think so. I’m the old man, he’s the new kid, and if I’m an inspiration to an artist that good, I love it”. Their relationship has been mainly based on rivalry and admiration and increasingly unstable over the years.

blek le rat ballerina

Despite these sentiments, Le Rat has been quoted expressing his “anger” with Banksy in a Graffiti Wars documentary by Channel 4. He has publicly expressed his disappointment with Banksy making a man with a child or Banksy making rats. While some could argue Banksy made Le Rat famous by taking on most of his previous work intentionally or not, Le Rat was however displeased as Banksy was reproducing his technique and style in street art. He went ahead to suggest Banksy reveals his identity for everyone to know what kind of person he was. As fans and enthusiasts hope a pray for a collaboration between the two, it remains to be seen what comes out of the two artists’ differences.

Exhibitions

Blek Le Rat’s organized his first solo exhibition in October of 2006 at the Leonard Street Gallery in London. Most of his oeuvre has been included in many collections and galleries all around the world. He also took part in the Cans Festival in 2008 were famous street artists were also featured. Prou made his American debut in 2008 at an event held in Subliminal Projects Gallery in Los Angeles, Southern California. At this exhibition, he featured his wife’s photography and three-dimensional artworks. In December 2009, Le Rat had an exhibition titled, ‘Le Ciel Est Bleu, La Vie Est Belle’. Which translates to ‘The sky is blue, life is beautiful.’ This exhibition mainly covered his work from the early 80s to 2009. In a bid to bridge the divide, he went ahead to exhibit 25 unique lithography monotypes and large-scale artworks as well.

With a career spanning an impressive 30 years, this artist has no intentions of stopping anytime soon. As signaled from previous interviews, “I will never stop. Ever. Unless there was something wrong with my legs. But 30 years is a long time. It’s a lifetime. This is my life”. Prou still commands a great deal of influence in today’s guerrilla style art movement and street art. No doubt his name will be revered for many years to come.

carolina falkholt standing infront of finger mural

Artist Spotlight: Carolina Falkholt

When looking for one word to describe her artwork, shy would not be among them. Carolina Falkholt is among the most versatile artists on the planet. She is known for grafitta which incorporates graffiti and the female reproductive organ representation into masterpieces.

Born in 1977 in Sweden, she lived a normal childhood in her hometown Dals Långed, Dalsland. She then pursued an education at the Waldorf school Kristofferskolan in Stockholm.

Her time in the Waldorf School opened doors for her to start graffiti work. At the time, she went by the assumed name blue. To seek better opportunities she moved to New-York and found herself working with other major artists.

To understand her work, one needs to understand the level of artists she worked with. She joined two famous groups; Hardcore Chickz and The fantastic partners. Her work was recognized and she ended up working for the Rawkus recording company. She collaborated with huge artists like Sento and Lady pink. All this work led to her being recognized among Sweden’s famous graffiti writers.

After 4 years working and living in New York city she had gotten enough experience and acknowledgment under her belt, she went back home to Gothenburg, Sweden.

Her Works

Globally she is known for drawing and graffiti but she has dabbled in other avenues of art. She sculpts, does installations, organizes performances, creates collages and finally film and photography.

carolina falkholt standing infront of finger mural full

If you look at her artwork, you will notice a lot of colors and unending circles. These circles create beautiful webs which are then filled out to make beautiful designs. She also has a thing for incorporating other features of the body besides the vagina. You will find some paintings with eyes, hands, ears, and mouth.

You can see how much work she puts in since most of her work is very intricate. Her hand paintings are especially notable for the detail and meaning since she utilizes the Swedish sign language.

Among her, most notable works include the 2010 collaboration with a number of other artists. The project was named Graffiti Mariestad. Thirty artists including musicians, dancers, and other famous graffiti artists worked to produce a large-scale artwork. It can actually be considered among the largest graffiti works to ever be produced.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the silo which housed the masterpiece was torn down.  For the sad part, the artwork was gone forever. For the better part, she got commissioned to create a public sculpture.

falkholt test sculpture

She did not disappoint. She created T.E.S.T, a 12 foot sculpture that was inaugurated in Mariestad back in 2011. The statue featured materials from the demolished silo making it a great way to remember art through art. You can read her book SILO to understand the whole process.

She has had her work displayed in many museums including the Gothenburg museum of art, Ystad art Museum, Eskilstuna museum, and other places like Steneby Konsthall. She has also found time to participate in TV shows and curated exhibitions such as the Mynningsladdare in Gothenburg. Her works are unending and so is her praise.

carolina falkholt mural Övermålning

In 2014, she was commissioned to do work which turned out to be controversial. The painting dubbed Övermålning featured derogatory words towards women painted over with a motif of a lady’s naked bottom half.

Since the painting was commissioned by a school in Nyköping, many did not approve of the message it sent. They even erected a wall in front of it. After a ray of heated arguments with politicians taking a standpoint on the matter, the painting won. The wall came down and all was free to see.

Another high school commissioned a painting by Carolina Falkholt. As it turns out, it also proved to be another controversial painting depicting a naked woman upside down in an uncomfortable position. This mural did not raise as many eyebrows comparing it to the 2014 painting.

falkholt penis mural in new york december 2017

The one that got the most attention is the mural she painted in 2017 in New York City. The 40inch erect penis made its debut on the side of a building at 303 Broome Street. Many were amused by the painting and some not so much.

Commissioned by the street Art Foundation, this painting got a lot of attention. The intention was that the painting was meant to accompany an earlier painting of a vagina on Pike Street. Unfortunately, due to the order of the landlord, the painting was painted over just hours after it was completed.

When asked what she thought of the matter she said: “Art is one of the only places left where we can truly be free and discuss whatever difficult topics there are, since art has the ability to translate and transform language in any direction possible.”

With those few philosophical words from her, the art world is sure to experience the brilliant antiques of Carolina Falkholt. Her art is vibrant, controversial and the world wants more and so do we!

A worker in orange work suit stands infront of a grey painted wall next to a mural in sao paulo, brazil

Largest South America Graffiti Wall Erased

The beauty of Brazil has never stopped seducing the world into submission. From those white sandy beaches to Pico da Neblina, the country boast both of aesthetics, and football talent that till today captures millions of fans.

Among the charms that Brazil offers, is a beautiful metropolitan, claiming the position of the largest city in South America. This state is rich in culture and free expression. São Paulo, is not be underestimated as it supports 12.04 million people as of 2016.

The culture of the city can be illustrated in the art that paints the city. Along the 23 de Maio highway, your eyes feast on art like no other. The street mural displays the work of graffiti artists over 5000 square meters. It all started with Rui Amaral and 200 artists joining in creating this beautiful piece of artwork.

It’s a tale of love and danger. Amaral started his love affair with putting his artwork out there. What better audience than a highway? Millions of eyes who have nothing else but to look as they wait to get to their destinations. He used this opportunity to protest the injustices he saw were afflicting the society, and in the mean while dancing with the police.

It definitely had an impact on how the society could express itself. It became such a cultural phenomenon, foreigners flooded to the country to see the street mural. It became engraved in the urban history, culture and not to forget tourism in São Paulo. The mural made its debut in 2015, the office of the mayor sang its praises.

The fall

They say changing winds abides no greeting, recently there have been drastic changes at 23 de Maio. In January, sanitation workers got busy exacting orders from the new sitting city mayor, Joaoa Doria. The directive to the sanitation workers, was to paint over the beloved mural. The city woke up to the horror that their mural was no longer going to be part of them.

Wielding a spraying device himself, the mayor took it upon himself to take part in the destruction. The mayor and his sparkling millions has been making a few changes. He plans to enforce a restoration of the city to its original state. Pretty but without all the exciting stuff.

His campaign aims to paint the city one color, replacing broken street essentials like trash cans. The clean-up also includes covering up graffiti on city walls, planting trees, and collecting garbage. Although a noble idea by the millionaire business man, the act put to trial the value of art and if protection of art was a worthy cause.

As situations go, the campaign has collected loyal supporters. Praising the work of the Doria administration who are keen in keeping the city clean and devoid of mixed messages. Fines have been increased to discourage anyone from engaging in graffiti activities in any part of the city.

before and after picture of the mural cover up

There are others who view things differently though. The mayor’s critics suggest that this is all a plan to sell São Paulo off to investors. They claim that the mayor aims to privatize public land, and probably put up city parks for concessions. This sent the twitter world into an angry rant.

Despite this, a trend is also arising in other cities like lima inspired by the ‘Pretty City’ trend. Cities like Lima and New York have waged a war against graffiti on public property. The mayor however retorts that he is pro art. To add on, the office of the mayor put out a statement that some of the art was old and that it gave the city a dilapidated look.

To compensate for this injustice, the mayor has offered to support a museum of street art. The limits are that the murals to be put up, have to be approved by a committee. Also artists who have private funding are to be handpicked by an independent committee. This puts a limit in the freedom of expression, where artists are forced to box down creativity.

The city clean-up also puts the administration at a bad position as to where the homeless shall be taken. The homeless have been suffering since the city suffered fires between the 70s -80s leaving a large population stranded.

There has been action to protect the remains of the historic mural. The city department dealing in historic preservation, got a judge to cease the repaint of the city mural. This of course put a stick in Doria’s ‘pretty City’ mechanisms. There are rumors however, of the city setting up legalized areas where graffiti can be expressed freely.

It’s a case of compromise for the society. They get to live in a better environment, and still have access to their beloved graffiti murals, at legal, designated areas.

Hillary Clinton Mural that Caused Controversy

First it was a mural depicting a near-naked Hillary Clinton in a swimsuit with stars and stripes. The mural went viral, circulating around social media and causing criticisms of all kinds. The provocative painting was displayed on the wall of a small business building in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray.

Protests followed from Maribyrnong Council who called the mural offensive.

“We believe it is offensive because of the depiction of a near-naked woman, not on the basis of disrespect to Hillary Clinton, in accordance with the Graffiti Prevention Act 2007,” said Stephen Wall, CEO of Maribyrnong City Council.

hillary clinton mural wearing star spangled bathing suit with cash

That prompted Lushsux, creator of the mural, to add something extra to his painting – he painted some $100 notes stuffed in the swimsuit in reaction. This was also a response to Instagram after it suspended his account for posting the image on the social media platform. The artist’s account had already won over 100,000 followers.

The authority went further to claim that local residents were not happy with the painting and even threatened the owner of the building with the prosecution along with a fine if the mural was not removed. Of course, the mural went up during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign so perhaps it created a negative image of her.

‘Hillary Clinton’ in a Burqa

Lushsux branded the calls to remove the mural as pathetic. Instead of removing the mural, he eventually covered up the swimsuit by painting a Burqa over it, leaving only the eyes showing. The Burqa is traditional outfit worn by Muslim women to cover their bodies in public.

hillary clinton mural by lushsux wearing a burqa

Next to the new work, he painted the message, “If this Muslim woman offends u, u r a bigot, racist, sexist Islamophobe.” He then posted on his new account, “This is no longer a wall of a supposed ‘offensive and near naked’ Hillary Clinton, it is now a depiction of a beautiful Muslim woman”.

Lushsux is no stranger to controversy

It’s not only Clinton who was handed the artist’s treatment and it wasn’t the first time the artist attracted media attention for his satirical paintings. Lushsux also painted and adjusted murals of the then Republican nominee Donald Trump and his wife, Melania across Melbourne. However, these murals didn’t receive harsh measures from the Instagram owner.

He has also satirized extremely renowned celebrities in the past. In another mural, he displayed an image of singer Taylor Swift and captioned: “In Loving Memory of Taylor Smith, 1989-2016”, in reference to the pop star’s public conflict with rapper Kanye West. After Swift threatened to take legal action, Lushsux transformed that piece into one Harambee, the gorilla whose killing after a little child fell into his fenced area sparked outrage.

Of course, there are those who have no hard feelings towards the murals or how Lushsux express his ideas. Some even find the murals funny and create memes out of them. In any case, the murals live on and so is the artist. We can only wait for the next controversy he’s going to create.

juxtapoz homepage screenshot taken march 2017

Juxtapoz Online Magazine – digital art destination

Established by artists and collectors back in 1994, Juxtapoz is an online arts and culture journal that has remained a genuine champion of the contemporary art world. Made as the absolute opposite of the stuffy, antiquated scene, the San Francisco-based publication promoted and continues to promote artists, genres and galleries that were often neglected.

The online magazine’s staff from in-house in San Francisco has remained vigilant over the years, representing those with incredible potential and whom they believe in, and endeavoring to make art accessible to a worldwide audience. The magazine launched a mission to connect Surrealist traditions of figurative art, contemporary popular culture, psychedelic rock posters, and side show crack banners, Zap comics and EC comic books.

Juxtapoz has enjoyed two decades of online publishing covering several genres; from photography to painting, fashion, design, graffiti to street art. What they have done over the years is ensuring they have artists who have represented each of the specific styles and this is evident in the online magazine.

Why Juxtapoz stands out

Juxtapoz has remained relevant and a significant publication both in print and online for several years. Their success is cultivated by the mix of sharing creative energy to those interested in transforming art into a lifestyle.

They’ve never been comfortable covering one particular style – they continue to broaden their scope by mixing and matching content for art enthusiasts. Each of Juxtapoz’s monthly issues highlights photography, design, fashion, painting, graffiti, museums and current issues. The featured artists also continue to create fascinating and provocative arts.

Readership has also increased especially with the boom of social media. The magazine’s chief editor Evan Pricco acknowledges that the internet has been a game-changer by blending a bunch of creative arts together on the same platform. This includes lowbrow graffiti and street art. Readers also respect the fact that there’s so much going on in the field of art every month and they can also join the print magazine or online and have a piece of it.

The graffiti and street art cultures have grown with the internet over the years and have used the ability to share information through social media. The ability for someone in South America to see their comrade in Paris sharing a mural they saw in the street broadened the magazine’s audience. The works of famous graffiti and street artists like Blu, Conor Harrington, Ericailcane and visual artist Herbert Baglione, just to mention, are now easy to spot and share.

The rise of creative culture has also seen more people becoming interested in art school, design jobs, film, photography and even painting. There are millions who want to attend art fair these days and that translates to a wide fan base. Others want to take street art photos and create Instagram murals. All these fuels the magazine’s readership and Juxtapoz, in turn, tries to inspire their audience with works from various artists.

With a new issue every four weeks, the magazine gives artists the opportunity to create things that they want to create. The big part of it is making art accessible to people who are frightened by institutional art.

mathieu tremblin and colleague finish up a work of art

The Artist who Makes the Illegible Legible: Meet Mathieu Tremblin

Graffiti is one area of street art that appears to divide feeling the most. The issue of whether it’s art or not is one which we’ve all been involved in.

Yet when it comes to tagging, the vast majority would likely concur that it’s the most repulsive sort of street art. And, what’s significantly more irritating is that it’s quite often illegible. But there’s one man who takes the ugly pieces and transforms them into beautiful, legible artwork.

The name is Mathieu Tremblin. Based out of two diverse French urban cities, Rennes and Arles, Tremblin has an inconspicuous method of making people think somewhat harder.

Style

Tremblin’s work concentrates on issues of ordinary city life, branding and graffiti society. He believes that these pressing issues are best communicated through urban interventions. His pieces figure out how to emerge in Europe’s swarmed graffiti scene, with his greatest works featuring a minimalist look at first impression, just to uncover testing, however, energetic goes up against city culture.

Works and Ideologies

Most of his art can be seen in his two French hometowns. There, he collaborates with his accomplice in the art scene “Ripoulain” and with photography collective “BIP”. His work can also be found in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

Project Tag Clouds was born out of Tremblin’s understanding as a street artist. He used to be a tagger and felt the name composing graffiti and particularly tagging, is the ground premise of self-expression in an urban space.

project tag clouds showcasing graffiti repurposed

The artist discovers graffiti tags on buildings, highway underpasses in French towns and garage doors. He lists them, erases them and re-paints them in clear, digital-style typeface – Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica or Georgia. Tag Clouds is about uncovering that tagging on the chance that you follow and read it; it’s an approach to go through the city in a new perspective.

By using digital typeface, Tremblin doesn’t just make the words neat-regardless of the possibility that they don’t appear to bode well-but additionally makes likenesses to ‘word clouds’ found online, considering on the contrast amongst advanced and physical tags.

mathieu tremblin project tag clouds graffiti turned street art

Tremblin’s interventions are a celebration of graffiti tags rather than a critique. Random graffiti writing used to be viewed as the ugly art in the city but Tag Clouds is out to make a tribute to random writing so that individuals accepts its visual presence by reading it.

Mathieu believes street art tagging is a reaction to an undeniably ‘consumerist space’ in urban areas, brimming with advertising on every surface. And that according to him diminishes the individual articulation of residents to a matter of decision between brands.

project tag clouds by mathieu tremblin

Tremblin’s art continues to inspire many cities, appearing as analysis on a particular point as examined in his work. His work makes a city more energetic, poetic and open to appointment. He’s still open to the idea that can notice and destroy his work since vandalism is in itself an approach to make destructive conversation. Hope you’ll love and appreciate his work, though.

magic finnga wond with students in thunder bay painting macs streetart mural

Mural Project in North Bay Brings Community Together

One of the greatest things about street art and murals, in particular, is their ability to bring people together. This is not only true in the way murals and street art interact with the everyday person, ie. through viewing and playing with pieces of public art, but also in their creation. All around the world, mural programs reach out to community members and introduce people to the power of art, and give them the tools and skills to start or continue their own artistic journey.

Here on the MuralForm blog, we have dedicated a lot of space to the many mural programs we hear about and witness, both locally in Toronto and around the world. It is an important part of who we are and why we do what we do. And today we have yet another incredible example of a mural arts program doing good in a community. This time in North Bay, Ontario.

In the northeastern Ontario town, a local Mac’s decided it was time to give back to the community that has served them so well, and they did it through a simple yet powerful donation: the large wall on the side of their building. A plain wall by any standards, Mac’s convenience store owners, along with North Bay Police and Near North Crime Stoppers, decided to get the local kids and youth involved in a beautification project. The goal: teach the kids how to make murals and paint the wall with a memorable a beautiful piece of street art. They called the project Mac’s StreetArt initiative and it was a huge success from the moment it got started.

mural painted in thunder bay

To make the project a reality, the Mac’s StreetArt initiative invited Toronto muralist and graffiti artist  Magic “Finnga” Wong to their town. Together, they started a three-day program that encouraged participation in every single facet of the mural, from coming up with the design to the actual painting.

Magic Finnga Wong helped the many locals who came out and participated learn the finer points of spray painting, all while teaching them the code of street artists. Namely to respect each other’s work and to contribute to the community rather than to desecrate it. “When you invite the kids from the neighbourhood or anyone in general from the area to come out and paint it makes it theirs,” he said in an interview with Sudbury. “It becomes ownership to the neighbourhood.”

The piece, now finished, is a testament to the power of murals to not only beautify space but enrich people’s lives. Now, these community members have the start of the skills they need to continue on their personal artistic journey. Who knows, the next great graffiti artist may have got their start painting the Mac’s wall in North Bay, Ontario!

air ink made by graviky labs

Air Ink: The Paint Made from Car Exhaust

Smog. In some places around the world, it has become an almost daily reality. It forces people to stay indoors, endangers the lives of people with lung and breathing complications and, until recently, was a source of ugliness in the world. While no one would surely celebrate air pollution and smog, one Indian-based company is taking it and turning it into art. Or, rather, the means with which to create art.

In mid-2016, India-based company Graviky Labs announced Air Ink, their brand new invention that turns soot into paint. The idea came to Graviky Labs’ founder and self-described “perpetual inventor”  Anirudh Sharma. The idea came to him while he was discussing smog with his friends, who complained it left stains on their clothes. Wondering if the stains could be a little more permanent, rather than less, he set out to turn soot into paint. His work started in a lab at MIT, but he soon went to India to complete the project.

Air Paint is created on the exhaust pipes of cars, of all places. Since cars are one of the world’s leading polluters, and a fairly steady source of carbon emissions, a special device can be hooked up to the exhaust system to capture the carbon soot. The captured soot is then purified to remove heavy metals, carcinogens, and other unnecessary elements, and then blended with other materials that turn it into a durable paint.

“The soot is blended with oils to create oil-based paint, the spray paint is packaged with compressed gas and canned,” Sharma said in an interview with CNN. “To a user, the end results are materials that function much like any other paint they use.”

The paint is stored in what Sharma calls “an Air Pen,” which holds soot from 30-40 minutes of car emissions.

Since the project was announced, Graviky Labs has partnered with Tiger Beer to test the product on the streets of Hong Kong, an area of the world that is notorious for its pollution levels. Artists were given Air Pens to create murals and other pieces of artwork around the city. Thus far, the murals, and the messages they send, have been well-received. As for Air Ink, Sharma is hopeful that it can have a positive impact on the world. “”The ink will confine the particulate matter [found] in emissions, that would have otherwise gone in our lungs,” he says. ”What we’re doing at this point is repurposing a pollutant that makes people sick, is destroying our environment, and exists all around us in our air.”

Air Ink is still a long ways off from being in your local store, or on the back of your car, but Graviky Labs is currently researching how to produce Air Pens on a larger scale. Hopefully, the art, and the paint, could help spread the word about environmentalism throughout the globe.

celebrating wall to wall mural festival in winnipeg

Winnipeg Hosts Month-long Wall-to-Wall Festival

Last September, Winnipeg’s north end was home to a month-long celebration of public art. The event was called the Wall-to-Wall festival and was put on by Winnipeg’s Synonym Art Consultation. It also gave a facelift to one part of the city that could use more colour and artistic celebration.

The Consultation organized two groups of artists to create two gigantic murals that are now part of Winnipeg’s north end. One group, headed by a 17 year-old artist from Nunavut named Parr Josephee, created a mural that you can now see at 611 Main Street. The other group, lead by local artist Kenneth Lavallee, painted a mural dedicated to murdered and missing Indigenous women. “I’m from the North End, too, so this is my hood. It’s a way of having some ownership of your neighbourhood,” Lavallee said in an interview with Metro News. “The idea was to dedicate it to the cause of missing and murdered aboriginal women and have a nice, subtle way to say, ‘hey, we’re still here, we’re still important.’”

mural from wall to wall in winnipeg

Josephee designed her mural with South-American artist pair Bruno Smoky and Shalak Attack. The piece focuses on proposed seismic tests that may occur in Clyde River, which Inuit fear will affect narwhal and other marine mammals. The piece features “features two narwhals with lungs full of water and other life.” Josephee says the piece is in solidarity with that fight.

Josephee is also excited to contribute to Winnipeg’s growing art scene. “It’s amazing,” she said in an interview with the CBC. “When I was younger, I didn’t think I was going to be a part of any murals or anything. I wasn’t expecting this and I’m so happy I’m a part of this.”

aerial view of mural from wall to wall mural festival in winnipeg

Winnipeg artists and volunteers got a little help from outside the city as well. The Toronto-based art collective PA Systems also came out to help organize, prime walls, and paint the murals. A member of the group, Alexa Hatanaka, says public art is an important part of the modern world because it engages people in their everyday lives. “Public art really engages people in a way that’s different,” she told Metro News. “There are so many difficult things we face on this planet that sometimes it’s hard to sit down on the computer and read about it. But art engages you in a different way to start thinking about important issues. I think it’s special in that way.”

The Wall-to-Wall’s willingness to be political and help beautify an area of their city proves that art festivals can be about much more than aesthetics. These pieces reflect real struggles facing communities across the country and in their immediate area, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of the festival volunteers.