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Sunday, 12 August 2018

Spotlight : From the streets of Bristol

Here are some observations from the street art festival, Upfest, that I raised in last month's blog.

A couple of us admired this stencil and spraycan piece by @petersheridanartist for a while on the Monday. It took a while. Six eyes helped take it in. The verdict was "so... it's got everything". Nature, history, fauvism, perspective, caricature, deep shadow, journey, contrast, palette, use of tools, relatability, civilisation, economics, composition, heroism, dignity, and a branch turning into a pencil.
Zipf's law would tell us that some factors will always dominate in a book, a room, or in a painting. A street art piece could focus mainly on "shadows, with a dose of heroism", or be "about nature, with a side salad of economics". It's odd to have an even spread of attributes.
On that Monday we stared at this painting long, and said it is epic. Now I'm confused.  What attracts us?
Maybe when all around is calm, equilibrium is comfortable - and when we are in a spin of activity we associate with art which makes specifically bold visions.
Or... Maybe we go for focusedly edgy art when we are a bit bored, and we like the evenly calming images when the day or night has been far from tranquil. When do you want loud art? When do you relate best to clear bold statement art, and when do you prefer balanced art that speaks to all parts of your psyche? 
This painting of a wise lumberjack, both using and caring for nature, with calm expression, went down very well at the end of Upfest.  It had been a busy time, but also relaxing.  I liked the pencil.

Glitchy future...
This is @deedstencils work at the Upfest Stadium. This horse's streaky bars, of what looks like a technical glitch vision from faulty photo software, have liberated my mind about what precision and freedom can mean. We can paint what we want, how we want. It is fun and enlightening how such a precise work can represent the growing prevalence of glitchy imperfections in our vision of nature.  This is also my favourite palette combination: Red, turquoise, black and white. 
Horses on walls... Cave art horses from about 40,000 years ago are usually facing to the right (I mean the real cave paintings, not modern renditions of horses done in cave art style). It is as if, from pre-history, the horses from the past mostly run Eastwards.  Which is why I noticed that this horse is galloping left.  If you have looked at a lot of cave art horse paintings, there is a barely conscious sensation that this horse if galloping to meet them, back in our long journey through space and time. It is precipitating - moving too fast to be comprehended - with streaks missing, and unaware of its background.  It says a lot about the careless speed of today's obsession with progress, an incomplete picture, and what is black and white.  Yet it is beautiful.  If I were a horse from the past, meeting the future, this is a horse I would be happy to meet. We'd have a lot to share.