It’s possible that when you were very young one of your parents reprimanded you for drawing on the walls. They were right in doing this insofar as they didn’t want to clean up after you and they wanted you to practice your budding creativity within the accepted and acceptable mediums (paper/dry-erase board/magical tablet), but you were a wildly innovative artist, pushing beyond what “the man” knew or cared about to create something true, right?
Maybe you were just a little kid doing whatever whim possessed you and being told to stick to what you knew before moving on to a larger canvas. Sage advice from your wise parents. Don’t we all know at this point that it isn’t the size of he canvas that an artist uses but what they decide to put onto that canvas? And when it comes to paint on walls, it stands to reason that you better have something pretty worthwhile to put on there.
It has been more than 30 years since Style Wars and Bansky’s big ha-ha on all of us Exit Through the Gift Shop Blu is still running through many of our minds, so many of us art-lovers are familiar with the artistic potential of graffiti – which I will choose, in the spirit of progress to call street art. While much of graffiti’s roots lay deep in the soil of tagging – with stylized monikers showing up all over city walls, subway cars, mailboxes – wherein brightly colored announcements of a presence stood in for the actual artist who had to hide in the shadows so as not to be arrested. Yet over the years we have seen how once secretive street artist’s have been brought into the art world to be celebrated given a more “legitimate” platform in which to work. This is not a bad thing at all for these artists but it seems directly antithetical to the original spirit of graffiti, wherein danger was all a part of producing the work and the work had some inherent significance directly because of this danger. Enter this millennium’s master: Blu.
Blu is the name of an unknown Italian street artist who has been putting up intriguing work since 2009, beginning in Bologna. After a couple of years Blu’s style had evolved from a more angular, less detailed “graffiti” style into a wonder of large-scale sketching. Just how Blu is able to paint such detailed pieces onto huge wall faces is as confusing to me as it is impressive. That the pieces are consistently making some comment about the current, globalized condition of the world is the point at which I want to follow what Blu does for a long time. In some of Blu’s pieces the symbols might be a bit hard to read butI find most of them to be coherent arguments against the current militarism, consumerism, and classism that is ruining our world. Identical seeming boding being fried over burning money…don’t have to think too hard about that one. How about the incredibly accurate depiction of how a man becomes a soldier…argue with it all you want but it looks about right to me.
Over at Wikipedia there are comments about Blu’s artistic creation flying in the face of the art market, calling Blu’s anarchic images a revolutionary comment against the contemporary art scene, and this is certainly apparent but what I see even more is someone who believes that their dissident voice has no valid outlet other than the art market, and who might even become a target of the authorities if their identity was known. Considering that Blu has been able to put work up on a number of different countries it seems that s/he has it figured out how to fly below the radar.
Take a look at the pieces below and make sure to go over to Blu’s site for many more images and videos of many of the pieces being worked on. And Blu, wherever you are, keep painting. It is inspiring to many of us.