The unstoppable drive to create something meaningful in the urban context has been pushing street creatives to travel around the world and to adorn walls with their murals and graffiti. Often happening during the street art festivals, like the Color Ba in Buenos Aires, or Sea Walls in New Zealand, the creative practice defined as street art does not seem to falter. On the contrary, in recent decades we have testified to the steep increase in interest in this type of art, constantly producing new events to be displayed at, such as the Urvanity fair in Spain, which had its first edition this year.
Constantly doubted, theorized upon, and admired, street art does not exist just for our visual pleasure, but it also shows a keen concern for what is going on in our world today. In the selection of the most interesting murals charted below, you will be able to see how artists tackled some of the pressing issues such as pollution, conflict, and gender hierarchies in their art, created in the previous four weeks.
The Color Ba festival in Buenos Aires got richer for a new wall decorated by CASE Maclaim. His mural is an astonishing depiction of a child being held, without showing either its face, or the face of a person who is holding it. Maclaim focuses on his recognizable motifs, such as hands, in creating this photorealistic but also surreal piece. The overlaying of forms and colors gives the image an abstract quality, although we are still able to make out what is depicted.
The rising acidity of the oceans is the theme James Bullough explores in his surreal mural made for the Sea Walls festival in Napier, New Zealand. Exploring the synthesis between nature, society, and public art, the festival brings the oceans to the streets of different cities around the world. Bullough shows us the devastating effect acidity has on the oceans' ecosystems worldwide, by choosing to depict a disintegrating female form surrounded by a dead seabed; she is obviously breaking down and disappearing as a consequence of pollution. The mural is sending a clear message - this is the destiny that awaits all of us, if we do not stop destroying the nature.
Dressed in a period costume, two male figures seem to hold each other, or to engage in a brawl. We are not sure. The mural made by Conor Harrington named Embrace and Fight, could not be better placed than on a wall in Paris, a city marked with various problems and struggles in the last few years. The embrace of its citizens after each moment of suffering is another strong marker that resonates through this Harrington's piece.
Another mural made for Sea Walls festival is the Recycling Kingdom by Rustam QBic. A whale is carrying three children and a toy house on its back, while gliding between the oil spills in the ocean. Two of the children are collecting the garbage from it, and with their gazes turned toward the observer of the mural, they seem to ask - For how long will this continue? Rustam QBic makes us aware of not just what is happening to the oceans, but also of the legacy we are leaving for younger generations.
A woman, a bat, and a flower are three elements of the mural Does or Doesn't, made by Lonac in China, for Wallskar festival. Depicted against the simple, green background, the composition is one of suspense and surprise, as we are immersed into the puzzle that is bothering the woman, without being offered a resolution. Her astonished face does not reveal much à propos the outcome of her musings. Simple but powerful, the composition achieves a surreal effect with the appearance of a bat from behind the woman's head.
Not a muralist in a traditional sense of the word, Bordalo II is famous for his wall pieces made from discarded materials and objects, he then covers with paint and carefully arranges so as to resemble different animals. Making his statement against the disappearance of the wildlife, Bordalo II chooses to represent animals that are endangered, or to draw attention to the ones that may soon be on that list.
For a festival in Ostend, Belgium, Levalet decided on depicting a headless man moving from the crouched position to the upright one, and back to crouching again. Dressed in urban attire, the figure on this Dust to Dust mural evokes the famous images showing the evolution of a man, from a monkey, through a cave man, to the present-day figure, walking proudly into the uncertain future. This Levalet's take on the theme in Ostend seems to capture the future a man in the iconic image is pacing into. Beheaded, without hands, and yet moving, the figure seems uncertain of the position it is allowed to take.
For the festival Domina Domna in Bergamo, Italy, Marina Capdevila created a mural which puts into question all the hierarchies of age, gender, and sex, that guide our modern-day society. An unlikely basketball team made of the ageing persons is grouped together for a humorous image that captures with its positive energy.
Wonderwalls mural festival in Port Adelaide, Australia, is a host event under which Natalia Rak created her mural inspired by the sea and fairy tales. Different from the other 'sea murals' on this list, the Rak's piece does not seem didactic; its message seems disengaged from the issues troubling the sea world and nature in general. Instead, the artist is focused on depicting a melancholic scene where the mermaid is plaintively gazing upwards, while playing her lyre. But who can say that she is not mourning the destruction of the sea ecosystems?
To finish the list, we are turning to Aquarian Dream, a mural made by Mr Cenz in London. The fluidity of lines and color choices bring this mural closer to the ones with the theme of aquatic world. A female face that appears through the generally abstract forms, is the central focus and an energetic center of the piece, with her mesmerising gaze turned towards the viewer. As Mr Cenz likes to point out, his pieces do not carry big messages, but are products of his search for beautiful forms and worlds.
Featured images: Lonac - Does or Doesn't, China. Image via croatiadaily.com; Marina Capdevila - All in All Win, Bergamo. Image via streetartnews.com; Natalia Rak - Mermaid Song, Port Adelaide, Australia. Image via plus.google.com. All images used for illustrative purposes only.