Politics, social themes and street art, have intersected for decades. This mainstay of the contemporary art scene incorporates graffiti, stencils and stickers. Even this surge in interest of ‘anti-establishment’ has been taken up by the big corporations themselves with this likes of Nike and Coca-Cola adding an element of cool and fashion about street art.
So what are the key artists who’ve explored socio-political themes and satire in their works?
Here is a rundown of 5 key street artists who’ve done just that!
credit: El Payo
The ever-popular Banksy, the satirical street artist is widely written about, what with his works having dealt with socio-political themes from anti-war and anti-fascism to controversial aspects of modern human life such as greed, poverty and despair. His work, born out of the Bristol underground scene, commonly makes use of stencils, is famed for his contempt for the government and satirical themes.
Meaning Portuguese for twins, are from Sao Paulo, Brazil whose real names are Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo. Their work includes small figures and also large-scale installations, and often includes comical looking characters with yellow skin and oppressed looking faces, whilst often commentating on Sao Paulo social and political ills. Their work can be in their native Sao Paulo and also New York, Miami, Athens, Berlin and the Netherlands.
Portuguese born street artist also known as Vhils, Alexandre Farto works in mediums such as prints, wall carvings and billboards. His fantastic works have been heralded for exploring the sub-cultures and dynamism of cities. He is quoted as saying, “I try to delve into the several layers that compose the edifice of history, to take the shadows cast by this model of uniform development to try and understand what lies behind it”. He commonly chooses derelict facades and buildings as his canvas to enrich the city and to empower people that live in those cities.
credit: Lord Jim
A New York based artist and widely considered one of the pioneers of street art having kept his work alive on the streets for over three decades. His work often makes use of incredibly detailed 3D stickers and other mixed media on city walls and street signs. His provocative themes range from body parts such as severed legs, eyes and caged people to illustrate anti-establishment views. He also often draws on the subject of ‘light’, adding a level of mystery and significance to our often banal lives. This theme has been drawn on from the use of light as a metaphor in old religious paintings where light signified spiritual revelation and enlightenment.
This artist hailing from Ghent, Belgium, is famed for his signature work of pseudo-scientific field style animals such as rodents, rabbits and birds. His works are rather detailed, with intricate line work for the fur commonly in black and white. The creatures he illustrates are both familiar but also otherworldly. The sheer scale and distortion of the images represent the surrealism in modern day life. The vivid and surreal sense of life is further enhanced by the huge eyes of the animals, and you as the passer by exist in relation to them. If you ever have the chance to catch Roa’s work in person, you will feel rather insignificant to them!
Written by Paul Dimmock of online creative store, CultureLabel.com; Affordable Art, curators and stockists of exclusive artworks from leading galleries.