eL Seed’s New Scripts – Interview by Johnny Hanson for ARAMCO WORLD

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EL SEED SPOKE BY PHONE
FROM HIS DUBAI STUDIO
Let’s start with “calligraffiti.” There are quite a few artists who do it now. Did you coin the term?
No, to be honest with you, this is a term that has been used the first time in New York for a show, I think in ’84. A show created by Jeffrey Deitch for some calligraphy artists and some graffiti artists from New York. He had this vision 30 years ago that calligraphy and graffiti would merge together. To be honest with you, me today, I don’t even use this word to define myself. I’m just using calligraphy in my artwork. I do sculpture, I do canvases, I do art installations. I’m trying to get out of the box that I think I used to be in a few years ago.
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More: http://www.aramcoworld.com/en-US/Articles/July-2017/eL-Seed-s-New-Scripts

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New Alex Senna Street Art Around The East End

London Calling Blog

A few weekends back saw the return after a long break from London of Brazilian Street Artist Alex Senna who was over ahead of his current solo exhibition ‘The Nada’ at the Unit 5 Gallery – which is a fantastic show and one we will be reporting on shortly. Whilst over Alex Senna treated London to four delightful works, ranging from warm to surreal in subjects and all presented in that whimsical illustrative style that is so instantaneously Alex Senna.P1800254

Lovely work in Bacon Street featuring a delightful quaint scene with a mother cycling along carrying her trio of children.

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Surreal and fun work in Hanbury Street.

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Fun work in Yorkton Street, Hoxton outside the Unit 5 Gallery.

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Large-scale work along Hackney Road and at current our favourite of the few murals we have seen on this wall over the last year or so, such warmth. This work was put up…

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New Dale Grimshaw Street Art In Brick Lane

London Calling Blog

Last week saw Street Artist Dale Grimshaw set to create his latest mural in Hanbury Street just off of Brick Lane, ahead of his current solo exhibition ‘Pride & Prejudice’ at the well Hung Gallery in Hoxton (which we have been to see, is fantastic, and shall be reviewing soon). The fantastic work features a Papua New Guinea tribesman as its subject and is yet again a real delight to gaze upon. The work featuring Dale Grimshaw’s signature subject style, maintaining a preference for strongly tribal portraits, on this occasion accompanied with graffiti presented as part of the warriors decorative presetation. all fused with that air-brushed effect that makes for such exquisite images, enthused with a sense of passion and depth that is just fundamentally Dale Grimshaw, always an absolute pleasure to witness. This work was put up with support from Mark Hat, Monoprixx & Not Banksy Forum.

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An Eleven-Story-Tall Tree Hugger Sprouts on the Side of a Building in Chileby Kate Sierzputowski from Colossal

Italian artist Francesco Camillo Giogino, or Millo (previously here and here), has painted his latest sky-high mural in the heart of Chile. Never Give Up, created in his signature cartoonish style, features a female figure in the forefront clutching the trunk of a tree. The city behind the girl is black and white, causing the eyes to focus most clearly on a single green vine growing from the heart-shaped stump. The work, which aims to express the hope that Millo believes all hold in their hearts, was produced for Hecho En Casa festival this past month. You can see more of his nature-based and murals on his website, and on Facebook.

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More: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2016/12/an-eleven-story-tall-tree-hugger-sprouts-on-the-side-of-a-building-in-chile/?mc_cid=8682a862ed&mc_eid=0636b89ddf

New Spray Painted Tile Floor Installations by Javier De Riba by Kate Sierzputowski from COLOSSAL

Spanish street artist Javier De Riba (previously here and here) paints floors instead of walls, mapping out interlocking patterns in the style of intricate tiles. All of his pieces are created with spray paint and stencils, yet the resulting works are almost indistinguishable from the floors of traditional Catalan homes where he was raised. Typically placed in abandoned buildings, De Riba’s geometric patterns stand in stark contrast to the derelict walls that surround them, each painting breathing new life into crumbling architecture.

Recently De Riba has released some limited editions of his spray painted works. You can find these prints on both his website and Etsy.

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More: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2016/12/new-spray-painted-tile-floor-installations-by-javier-de-riba/?mc_cid=f1f33e7d66&mc_eid=0636b89ddf

 

Beijing Hosts First International Street Art Exhibition in China by CLAIRE BOUCHARA | JULY 08, 2016 – From BLOUINARTINFO

Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) presents “Street Art: a global view,” which runs through August 21. Jointly curated by Tang Hui and Magda Danysz, this is China’s first comprehensive exhibition about the development of international street art.

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Street artists are gaining international acclaim as their works make their way from street murals to the white walls of galleries and reputable museums around the world. Some artists are even attaining high prices at auctions and becoming household names — Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Space Invader, and JR, who has recently taken over the Louvre in Paris with a new installation, are but a few examples. Recognising its influence, Christie’s even presented a collecting guide on how to approach and invest in the medium.

More: http://encn.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/1444976/beijing-hosts-first-international-street-art-exhibition-in

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Making Graffiti an Iranian Art: The Works of Tehran-based Street Artist Ghalamdar, Ajam Media Collective

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More: http://ajammc.com/2014/05/27/making-graffiti-an-iranian-art-ghalamdar/

The works of 20 year-old Tehran-based artist Ghalamdar exemplify this new direction in Iranian street art. While the majority of artists operating in Iran are heavily influenced by motifs and techniques popularized outside of Iran, Ghalamdar is inspired by endemic calligraphic styles (khattati or khoshnevesi) and miniature paintings (negargari) that have been the primary subjects of 20th century modernist art. In several conversations with AjamMC, the artist discussed how Iranian visual and literary culture influenced his work and how dominant trends in Iranian street art have solidified.

The 2000s was the formative period for Iranian graffiti, just as street art’s popularity was rising across the globe through its commodification and exhibition. Artists such as A1one and Icy & Sot gained acclaim in the late 2000s, and several galleries in Iran began exhibiting their work. A1one was one of the first artists to experiment with Perso-Arabic script, but very few other contemporary artists have expressed interest in engaging with Iran’s calligraphic and figurative arts. Instead, the majority of graffiti in Iran is derived from internationalist motifs inspired by the Latin-lettered throw-ups of 1980s New York and easily-replicable figurative stenciling.

While graffiti culture was expanding, there were still very few notable artists due to the political and juridical climate. As Ghalamdar states, “When someone got caught doing graffiti in New York, the police would arrest them or fine them. But here, our crimes were not clear; the authorities didn’t know what to accuse us of. You could be accused of revolting against the government or disturbing the public; basically whatever [the authorities] wanted.”

Ghalamdar’s works in collaboration with Elf Crew

Ghalamdar began his graffiti career as a 15 year-old, coming into contact with local artists and their works. From 2011 to 2014, he teamed up with the Elf Crew, one of the first groups of graffiti artists to operate in Iran. Ghalamdar’s distinctive style has been featured as part of their collective, accompanying the pictorial features of Blind and Ali Fj-one with Persian-inspired calligraphy. In 2013, the crew worked at adrainage canal in the city of Tehran, painting approximately two hundred meters of walls.

While some graffiti artists produce work covertly, Ghalamdar states that he and his past crew members would often ask permission from members of the community in order to practice their craft. As Ghalamdar tells us, “Sometimes we talk to the residents in a particular area to ask them if we can paint there. I show them my ID and tell them that I’m an university art student. I remember once in a while they would come out to see what I was painting, but after a while they stopped being suspicious of our work and didn’t mind us.”

Although the situation was not devoid of risk for graffiti artists, changes in societal attitudes towards urban art have increased the awareness of independent street art. Towards the mid-to-late 2000s, dozens of municipalities across Iran began new beautification programs to revitalize cityscapes through massive artistic projects. While Ghalamdar is critical of the didactic message of these initiatives and urges that graffiti culture was alive and well decades before, he states that the projects might have opened up a space for independent artists to work, even if their work continues to be erased: “In some ways, the [beautification programs] have improved our situation. For example, if I approached a wall with a spray-can years ago, ordinary people would have looked at me in a negative way. Now however, most people aren’t surprised to see artists working.”

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Ghalamdar’s work is unique in the realm of Iranian street art because it alludes to 20th century artistic discussions in Iran while maintaining the presentational form of graffiti. The artist sees tremendous potential in engaging with Iran’s cultural products, and hopes many will follow suit: “In this modern period, we are able to take our own elements, visual culture, our own literature for inspiration. We have had a lot of artistic circles throughout the last century that have experimented with traditional forms. We could do it [with graffiti], but most prefer to emulate.”

Ghalamdar’s digital works

The utilization of the “traditional” in 20th century works has been an important turn in the history of Iranian art. With the increasing economic and cultural penetration of colonial powers in the 19th century, artists began experimenting with different techniques and media from Europe and elsewhere; but art forms like calligraphy and miniature painting that had developed over centuries of contact between Iran and its neighbors were not lost in the changing political and socio-cultural climate– there was, in fact, a resurgence. With the establishment of the School of Traditional Arts (Madrese-ye Sanai’-e Qadima) in 1929, a new group of miniaturists were funded and trained by the Pahlavi state. These artists, emulating the styles and models of the Timurid and Safavid ateliers, influenced later generations of miniaturists in the 1980s and 1990s (called the negargaran) that include such artists as Mahmoud Farshchian and Mohammad Bagher Aghamiri.

It was the works of these later artists that compelled Ghalamdar to experiment with miniature painting two years ago. Unlike emulative practices of the negargaran, however, Ghalamdar strove to bring the artistic forms into the realm of pop-art– cartoonifying human figures and isolating them from their traditional literary and visual contexts. Ghalamdar’s early ventures into this style were done digitally, as he states that he did not have the necessary skills to work freehand. Using his background as an art student, Ghalamdar was able to contact several professors and research various aspects of miniature painting. After several months, the artist began producing his miniature work on walls of Tehran and Karaj, before moving on to calligraphy.

negargari and miniature-inspired works

For the experimentation with calligraphy, Ghalamdar turned to the Saqqakhaneh movement of the 1960s and 1970s, who used calligraphy, folk objects, and Shi’i iconography as part of their subject matter. Unlike professional calligraphers, this group of artists avoided the strict rules and preparation rituals of the craft in favor of abstraction. Saqqakhaneh artists directly inspired Ghalamdar to challenge the dominant pictorial material of Iranian street art in favor of developing an aesthetic with distinct Iranian markers.

“Seven or eight months ago, I went to see an exhibition featuring the works of Saqqakhaneh artists at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. There, I saw the works of Mansoureh Hosseini–may she rest in peace– and others like Tanavoli and Zenderoudi. I was looking atFaramarz Pilaram in particular when I thought about trying out a new artistic outlook. I was also listening to Dariush Dolat-shahi’s Third Eye: Improvisations on Tar, which also gave me an energy to pursue this type of work.

I worked on ten walls that were just for practice. I felt that this was a great start, and that no one else was doing this type of street art in Iran at the time. I practice Persian and Arabic calligraphy everyday in my notebooks. I never went to a class and never had a teacher– I just picked up a few books and then started writing myself. Though I draw in my notebook, I rarely use a pre-drawn model for my murals. There are particular forms that are internalized, but I try to bring something new out of myself each time.”

pieces from Ghalamdar’s notebook

While Ghalamdar’s has undoubtedly been influenced by traditional calligraphic practice, his work shares an affinity with the interlocking aesthetic of “wildstyle” graffiti, demonstrating an amalgamation of the two cultures of writing. Like the letterist works of the Saqqakhaneh artists, Ghalamdar’s text-based pieces have emphasized the pictorial form of Perso-Arabic script over the literary content of traditional calligraphic practice.

The artist recently showcased his latest calligraphic work at an underground workshop in central Tehran. The workshop is located inside an old house that was previously listed as a cultural heritage site, but was removed from the municipality’s list due to its small area. The owner of the house has scheduled its demolition, but not before opening up the venue to a number of Iranian street artists to showcase their work. This past spring, a group of prominent street artists under the name of Black Hand curated an exhibition in the same space, demonstrating that a variety of spaces–on and off the street–are opening up for Iranian graffiti artists to display their work.

Ghalamdar believes that shows like Black Hand’s exhibition and the “gallerization” of street art in general do not necessarily alter the message or form of graffiti. As he says, “In terms of presenting our works in a gallery, I really don’t see a problem with it. Right now the debate concerns whether our work has to be located on the street for it to be considered graffiti. In my opinion, street art is a package that encompasses a variety of practices like design, decor, and fashion– it’s something that doesn’t have limitations any more. The nature of graffiti is changing, but the core of it all– writing on the walls– shouldn’t be lost either.”

Ghalamdar’s work featured in an underground workshop in Central Tehran

Ghalamdar and his cohort are operating in a socio-cultural environment where many members of the Iranian public are familiar with graffiti culture and are actively promoting such works. Although Iranian municipal authorities (like those all over the world) continue to erase independent street art, more and more venues have been dedicated to presenting Iranian graffiti to new audiences.

The young artist’s innovative style is indicative of a new generation of Iranian street artists who are experimenting with Iranian artistic practices in their work. Whereas the majority of Iranian street artists operating today reproduce the formal and presentational idioms of global street art, Ghalamdar has engaged with endemic visual culture to produce works that are in conversation with Iranian art history. Additionally, the artist avoids reproducing the “traditional/modern” binary in his attempt to revitalise the Iranian street art movement by engaging with a variety of modernist and postmodern takes on Iranian subject matter.

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Ghalamdar believes that departing from established international styles and engaging with Iranian art will help revitalize–if not create– an indigenous Iranian graffiti scene. As he states, “In my opinion, we still don’t have an authentic Iranian street art movement; right now most of us are just replicating what is being produced in the U.S. and Europe. We haven’t created a graffiti that we can call our own– all I can say is that there are a few individuals who are truly trying to produce original street art. I don’t think our ideas will be picked up immediately in Iran, but hopefully, this will change in the future.”

For further reading on the Saqqakhaneh movement, calligraphy, negargari, and the history of 20th century Iranian art, refer to Hamid Keshmirshekan’s Contemporary Iranian Art: New Perspectives

 More: http://ajammc.com/2014/05/27/making-graffiti-an-iranian-art-ghalamdar/