“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” Henry David Thoreau’s words are perfectly resonated in one of the most awe-inspiring art forms that have evolved – Street Art. Displayed on surrounding buildings, pavements, streets to pillars and trains, the art is often associated with vandalism. However, in recent times, it has been uplifted as a way of expressing an opinion, a voice on the world view and society. Street paintings bring art closer to the commoners rather than being a distant fancy of the gallery visiting rich.
Graffiti, guerilla art, independent art are a few of the many terms associated with this brilliant form. Graffiti involves drawings as well as writings largely on a wall and has its roots in ancient cultures. It is an integral part of the hip-hop culture as a way of expressing rebellion. The word graffiti derives its name from the Italian word ‘graffio’ meaning scratch. It is often illegal and is spotted on subways, billboards and walls.
Guerilla art is a street art movement that originated in the UK. A lack of boundaries is a characteristic of these paintings, giving them an appeal influenced by their environment. It employs the cause and effect rather than emphasizing on the material piece itself. It does not involve any art on a canvas. The art has been associated with Brandalism, the public reaction to a brand or a product.
3D street art paintings take this art form to another pedestal. Associated traditionally with vagabond artists, viral marketing campaigns hire artists to create a consumer-centric art piece on a legalized space. 3D street art brings the otherwise mundane streets to life and one is sure to pause at the sight of one. It instills curiosity and marvel in the viewer. It explores illusions and how perspective affects our view. 3D artists use illusions to create a surreal, spellbinding concept.
Kurt Wenner, the artist who invented 3D pavement art, shot to fame with the piece ‘Greenpeace’ (above image) that commemorated the historic call for a ban on genetically modified crops. The sharp contrast of a rural setting with the capitalist figure strikes at the heart of the issue. Kurt Wenner is undoubtedly regarded as the most prominent figure in the world of street art. He has worked as an advanced scientific space illustrator with NASA. His art forms are inspired by the Renaissance classicism and blend mathematics and fine art. He creates his art on a canvas or vinyl that is later installed at the designated site. ‘Dies Irae’, ‘Gheto’ and a smoothie advertisement for Dunkin’ Donuts are but a few of his magnificent creations.
Pierre Delavie is known for creating fascinating illusions on monumental buildings using ‘trompe-l’oeil’ or ‘trick of the eye’. The technique involves realistic images to create optical illusions. The effect can be seen only from a particular angle. This image featured is on the façade of the stock exchange, Marseille European capital of culture, in 2013. It gives the impression of the pavement view against a striking blue sky of the very building. ‘The Raft of Lampedusa’ was one of his most sensational creations that depicted a boat of refugees overturning in the River Seine. The installation showed the plight of the refugees drowning in the Mediterranean. He has designed a 3D museum in Playa De Carmen, Mexico.
This chilling art installation, which feels as if you are falling into an abyss, has been created by Edgar Müller, a German illusionist. The huge painting on a pavement in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, gives an apocalyptic Ice-Age chill as you walk by the picturesque surroundings. The painting uses anamorphic illusions that appear three-dimensional when you view it from a certain angle. Müller has the honor of creating the biggest 3D pavement art in the world – The Ice Age, which was based on the famous animated movie, spanning an area of 330 square meters.
The largest 3D painting, ‘The Salt World’ located in Rynek Górny (Upper Market Square), City of Wieliczka, in Poland, was created by Ryszard Paprocki. The painting represents and depicts the view of the salt mine’s underground. It is a flat 2D painting that includes the existing bronze sculptures of four miners, making them appear as if they have come out of the underground to the wooden platforms. Ryszard is also popular for his mural paintings and is known for his combination of geometric abstraction with figurative art largely inspired by the Italian Renaissance.
This chalk drawing by Julian Beever, a British artist, is one of his many acclaimed commercial commissions. It features an inverted image of a delivery boy of DHL set in a Chinese town. ‘The Pavement Picasso’ has to his credit paintings of Batman, Spiderman among others. His drawings appear completely distorted if not viewed from a particular angle and are often accompanied by a camera placed strategically to give the best view. He has made ‘Concrete Canvas’ a novel TV series that explores 10 cities in Latin America and their street art.
Georgia Sports Hall of Fame
This 3D chalk art by artist Tracy Lee Stum was created in front of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame at Macon’s International Cherry Blossom Festival in 2012. Tracy is an American artist who formerly held The Guinness World Record for the Largest Chalk Painting by an individual. Her graffiti has shot to the limelight in various festivals and events across the world. The themes of her work vary from Biblical to commonplace scenes. She curated the first annual DO/AC 3D Chalk Festival in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
This street spray art transfers the walls of a building to another level. Spray art paintings portray landscapes on non-porous materials and are mostly monotonous in hue. Here, the black and white give it an earthy chalk drawing effect. The swirling imagery is peculiar to most spray paintings and renders a different dimension to the rebellious mural art.
Street Art Avenue
This 3D street art painting is a part of a series on the Belvedere, Parc de Belleville Paris. The mural work has been created by Julian Malland, aka Seth (Globe painter). Like this work, his paintings explore the fascinating relationship between childhood and innocence. Full of bright colors and creativity, his paintings typically depict a child floating mid-air, drawn away from reality towards dreams. The children mostly face away in his creations. Mural paintings are mostly painted directly on walls integrating the architectural beauty of its space in the painting harmoniously. Once a purely rebellious art form, it has now transcended into a voice-piece for many social causes across the globe.
Łódź Schillera Passage
This 3D graffiti depicts a dystopian, surreal image of games, literally. The assortment of colorful things that are commonly used in games is sure to make one stop and wonder at the myriad combination and composition. The distinct cracks in the landscape create the 3D image of falling into an abyss.
Whitney Peak Mural
The portrait of a woman also called ‘The face of Reno’ is created on the south side of the Whitney Peak Hotels in Reno, Nevada. The mural has been created by Christina Angelina aka ‘Starfighter’, a Venice-based visual artist, photographer, and gallerist. She was a featured artist in the Google Art Project’s Street Art Collection, launched in 2016. She is known for her depictions of female portraits exploring strength and vulnerability together. ‘The Tank’ and ‘The Burning Man’ are other notable works of the artist.
Salo Police Station
This vibrant contemporary mural painting is the genius of Leon Keer, a Dutch pop, surrealist artist. Famous among his works are ‘3-D Lego terracotta army’ (Sarasota Chalk Festival) and a confluence of Little Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland depicting the fight against evil. The contrast of liveliness and the darkness in his works are symbolic of the spirit of our times – social degradation versus the search for eternal beauty. He uses multiple mediums like acyclic paints adhesives, solvents, primer, and tar.
‘Art for Art’s Sake’ is the intrinsic philosophy that rules 3D street art. The temporary nature of the art gives it a rare significance and power. Though many brands like Ikea, Unilever, Honda have used it for several marketing campaigns, it is essentially an expression of the individual perspective of the world. The paintings, irrespective of their forms, dapple with engaging ideas and issues of contemporary times. The street belongs to the masses and therein lies the mass appeal of this long-existing and ever-evolving art form. 3D Street Art engages the viewer in a magical experience that is unforgettable. It makes one question, pause, and reflect, captivating the attention of young and old alike. It makes one curious about the reality of the world and our perception.