Street artists: Cape Town to Kyiv via Bamako, Rio to London via The Bronx

Banksy is an England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter. He is famous for a distinctive stencilling technique. His artistic works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world. Banksy’s first film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, billed as “the world’s first street art disaster movie,” made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for the film.

A wall in Timbuktu, Mali with what appears to be Banksy's artwork, January 2009 (Courtesy of the Scenic Sidewalk, a catalog of international street art)
A wall in Timbuktu, Mali with what appears to be Banksy’s artwork, January 2009 (Courtesy of the Scenic Sidewalk, a catalog of international street art)

Over the last few years, Banksy reportedly strayed into making comment on Africa, its political and social problems. A commentator suggests that Banksy came down to Africa in person, something that can be concluded from the graffiti that started appearing on the walls of Malian cities, from Bamako to Timbuktu.

Also in Mali, Ko-Falen Cultural Center located in Bamako is the inspiration of Baba Wagué Diakité, a Malian artist and writer now living in Portland, Oregon.

In Bambara language, the word ko-falen means “gift exchange.” Ko-Falen Cultural Center seeks to promote cultural, artistic and educational exchanges between the people of the United States and Mali through art workshops, dance, music and ceremony.

Subway expert Mark S. Feinman writes in his survey of  The New York Transit Authority in the 1980s:

The 1980s could be summarized as the “Jekyll and Hyde” period of the New York Subway System. As the decade began, it had the filthiest trains, the craziest graffiti, the noisiest wheels, and the weirdest passengers. By the end of the decade, it had cleaner trains, no graffiti, quieter wheels — and the weirdest passengers.

One of the most well known graffiti artists in the world Richard “Richie” Mirando, known as Seen UA,

This B train of 1968 R-40 "Slant" cars on New York City's Brighton line in 1988 is characteristic of the filthy conditions of the 1980s. Street artist known as Seen UA tagged many a train in NYC. Photo by Eric Oszustowicz, collection of Joe Testagrose. (Source: nycsubway.org)
This B train of 1968 R-40 “Slant” cars on New York City’s Brighton line in 1988 is characteristic of the filthy conditions of the 1980s. Street artist known as Seen UA tagged many a train in NYC. Photo by Eric Oszustowicz, collection of Joe Testagrose. (Source: nycsubway.org)

tagged many a train in the NYC area. Referred to as the Godfather of Graffiti, this Bronx-born artist started to paint on New York’s subway in 1973.

zimbabwean dispensation project by Faith 47 (Courtesy David Krut Projects)
zimbabwean dispensation project by Faith 47 (Courtesy David Krut Projects)

Faith47  is a self-taught contemporary street artist based in Cape Town, South Africa. She draws inspiration from existential questions. She is interested in juxtaposing political promises of a better life brought in with the post-Apartheid  “New South Africa” and the harsh reality of the lives of most South Africans living on the streets.

“Keep your eyes peeled and your head up. The city wants to communicate and has something to tell you.” With these words begins a manifesto of the collective Brazilian project Olhe os muros. The idea is to collate the images and phrases left on the walls around Brazilian metropolises.

An inscription on the wall in downtown Caxias do Sul, a city in Rio Grande do Sul, Southern Brazil (Courtesy Olhe os Muros)
An inscription on the wall in downtown Caxias do Sul, a city in Rio Grande do Sul, Southern Brazil (Courtesy Olhe os muros)

Oleksiy Bordusov and Vladimir Manzhos (a.k.a. AEC and WaOne), Ukrainian artists of the duo Interesni Kazky (Interesting Tales), have covered half the world with their murals.

These two try to dissociate themselves from what graffitists do mainly because of the considerably negative attitude people have toward the latter. According to Whats On Kyiv, the law in Ukraine doesn’t differentiate between street art and doodling on the walls and anyone in possession of a spray can will be taken into custody and charged with hooliganism. A number of permits from the authorities can resolve the cul-de-sac situation, but it takes longer than painting a wall to obtain the authorization.

Check Top Ten Street Art Pieces in Ukraine’s Capital according to The Kyiv Weekly.  Read Kyiv Graffiti: Production of Space in Post-Soviet City paperback by Nadiya Parfan (it’s quite expensive though). Enjoy this artwork by Ivan Semesyuk:

Artwork by Ivan Semesyuk  (Photo courtesy of The Kyiv Weekly)
Artwork by Ivan Semesyuk (Photo courtesy of The Kyiv Weekly)

Or behold this fresh street art by AEC, WaOne and Spaniard Liqen in Yalta, Ukraine:

Ukrainian street art by AEC, WaOne and Spaniard Liqen in Yalta, 2012 (Courtesy Interesni Kazky)

For more street art from the world, for the world — check out this page: ‘Follow Your Art’ – Street Art Against Slavery.

See related reading

The Festival in the Desert by Intagrist El Ansari

What the world’s only active Somali archaeologist has in common with the Iraqi-British winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize

Urban rail in Africa: Whether “freedom trains” will solve Zimbabwe’s traffic jam problems, more attention should be paid to what happens when you board at A and get off at B. And don’t forget the bike!

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