Leaving aside some mafia-related quotes and drawings on the walls in Southern Italy, I took my first real Street Art picture in 2007 in New York.
Actually, it was two pictures of work by the same artist. Walking along one of Manhattan’s backstreets I passed by these funny looking colorful creatures. I stopped, looked, walked ahead and…. walked back. Back then I took the photo’s with a photo camera instead of a smartphone. The works were not signed, so after I came back to Amsterdam I did some research on the internet and figured out who made these colorful works of art. It was Judith Supine, a mysterious New York artist who worked under his mother’s name. I really liked the wheatpastes and was not surprised to see Supines work in the Urban Nation museum when I visited Berlin last year.
Lexi Bella and Danielle Mastrion
Another work that is still one of my all-time favorites is a mural by Lexi Bella and Danielle Mastrion. In 2015, cycling all day through Wynwood Miami (which feels like a Street Art Amusement park) I passed by their collaboration. Although beautiful faces are a staple of Street Art, these faces were so obviously done by woman’s’ hands that they stood out. The girls looked beautiful, sexy and…. powerful. And those colors! It was love at first sight and I still follow them on Instagram. Both Lexi and Daniëlle are socially committed and engage their work to connect society or the local community. My kind of artists!
Alexandre Farto aka VHILS
Another artist who has earned a spot on my all-time list is Alexandre Farto aka VHILS. He changed Street Art and brought the art to a higher level, connecting Street Art and High Art. Not only with his technique – using hammers, chisels or dynamite (holy peep!) – but also by reversing the core premise and method of Street Art by taking something off the wall instead of applying something to it.
JR’s combination of photography and street art has great aesthetic value. His work is also strongly political and socially engaged, and often exposes widespread prejudices.
In 2007 he wheatpasted the entire four stories of the façade of Athenaeum bookshop in Amsterdam with the faces of a Jewish and a Muslim clergyman. Unfortunately, the municipality did not appreciate the ‘illegal’ work on a protected cultural landmark as much as the owners did, and the work had to be hosed off within days. JR’s message is positive and shows how beautiful, funny and fundamentally alike all human beings are, wherever they are born, whatever they believe and however they live.
Finally, I have Jorit Agoch on my list. This artist shares my roots (Neapolitan and Dutch) and depicts – in addition to beautiful contemporary icons – many heroes of my youth. Maradona, San Gennaro, PierPaulo Pasolini, Eduardo de Fillipo. For me, Maradona’s portrait refers to the time when Napoli won the national championship (‘86/’87). San Gennaro refers to the great mystical wonder that the Neapolitans believe in and the film heroes which are so beautifully depicted by Jorit, to the films I watched with my father. I think Street Art is a very personal experience: the art takes me back to specific moments in time, and fills me with pride, as a woman, as a person of mixed heritage, as a city dweller, as an art teacher, and as a member of mankind. Street Art not only appeals to the imagination, but is able to touch that special place of the soul, of one’s identity, where dear memories are kept.