For the 19th consecutive year, the quaint Norwegian town of Stavanger hosted another edition of the internationally known NuArt Festival. What started in 2001 as side programming at an electronic music festival has evolved into one of the most influential street art festivals worldwide. In addition to the production of public artworks, Nuart also includes a series of academic talks, debates, and movie premieres/screenings, all working towards greater definition and recognition of the street art movement. Its concurrent indoor exhibition also provides the artists an opportunity to create indoor works and installations without limitations or censoring, providing a unique blend of street art attitude showcased inside a gallery-like setting.
One of the works painted last week in Stavanger was the image of a girl taking a photo of a painting in a thick ornate frame. What seemed like an eye candy composition that creates a simple interaction of the character with an object on the wall is actually a harsh critique of the way the general public and the art world are dealing with the global refugee crisis. “On one side there is the passive position of the observer, on the other side, there is the position of the artist. Both acts as beholders of the critical situation,” the artist Jofre Oliveras (previously) stated about his poignant piece, titled Beholders. The artist further extended his critique of the art world with an indoor installation and live performance work presented in collaboration with the members of the 1UP CREW. As a way of protesting against the speculation of the art dealers based on the artist’s name, Oliveras painted a series of large works on canvas, which were then crossed over and destroyed by the notorious international graffiti crew.
Not far from this mural Argentine muralist Hyuro (previously) created her vision of the crisis and the way it is affecting the lives of individuals. Using hands as the universal symbol of individuality and closeness, Valencia-based artist depicted two hands interacting with a straight line between them. Symbolizing arbitrary manmade borders, the hands are both crossing over or being crossed over by the strict mark. Also talking about important social issues, Paul Harfleet introduced the concept of the ongoing Pansy Project, planting a single pansy flower on the location of homophobic abuse. Not being able to find the actual plants due to their seasonal nature, for the first time Harfleet painted these fragile flowers on multiple locations through the city and inside exhibition spaces.
Working around the festival’s theme “Brand new, you’re retro,” Julio Anaya Cabanding (previously) painted a series of smaller interventions which free a classic artwork by Norway’s Lars Hertervig in unexpected places. On the side of a staircase, at the end of a dark hallway, and finally, as part of the exhibition, his work is successfully merging the worlds of art history museums with street art.
This sensitive merging of two similar movements is an ongoing subject of the work by the Portuguese artist Nuno Viegas who painted a large mural showing a head masked with a shirt. Portraying the classic image of vandal graffiti writers with their makeshift disguise costume, the artist wanted to pay tribute to his graffiti past. “I see graffiti as the retro and street art the brand new,” the artist explained to Colossal. “But it is important that people realize the difference between both and don’t get them mixed up. Let’s respect graffiti and not try to appropriate it, let’s be proud of the “new” movement we are part of. We are writing history and it is important that we write it right and make sure we respect and do not distort what has been done before we got it to the game.”
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