"A las chapas" – new exhibition from Malatesta

Malatesta is a member of the Hollywood in Cambodia (HIC) crew alongside rundontwalk, bs.as.stncl & Stencil Land. Together these artists have been responsible for shaping the development of stencil art in Buenos Aires over the past decade, and helping define its distinctive aesthetic.

Malatesta’s new exhibition showcases both his talents as an artist, and his unconventional techniques. All of the pieces on display incorporate techniques from stencil art. But instead of taking a box cutter to cardboard or plastic to create his images, Malatesta took a screw driver to metal panels.

“A las chapas” features works that have been scratched into pieces of metal found lying in the street. The scratched designs have been oxidised, transforming the images into rusted scars. The grittiness of the found materials and rust coloured designs is offset by the muted pastel colours the panels are decorated with. Its a very unusual combination of techniques and it produces striking results.

There are a few images from the exhibition below, and you can find a full set of images on facebook here

But if you can, it’s much better to see it in person. “A las chapas” is held at Hollywood in Cambodia gallery until the end of March.

(Hollywood in Cambodia / Thames 1885 / Open 18-21, Tuesday to Sunday)

a las chapas exhibition malatesta buenos aires stencil art

a las chapas exhibition malatesta buenos aires stencil art

Neo-muralism? Intriguing new piece from Ever

With his classic, painterly style Ever’s murals have always attracted attention. Part of what makes his pieces so intriguing are the subjects of his paintings.

On walls throughout the city you can find huge portraits of former lovers and his brother. More curiously you can also find portraits of Chihuahua dogs, Chairman Mao and a crack dealer from Los Angeles called Miguel, whose police mugshot on google images caught Ever’s eye.

A four metre portrait begs some questions. The most obvious being “why is this here and what does it mean?”

This is part of what we love about Ever’s work. He plays with expectations of what public art is supposed to represent. A four metre portrait of Ever’s brother usually leads people to conclude that he must be dead, and the painting is an homage. A huge mural featuring the face of Chairman Mao leads people to assume that the artist has a political agenda. And the smirking profile of Miguel the crack dealer leaves people wondering who this character is, and what he has done to merit being beautifully recreated at scale.

A recent trip to Mexico has left Ever inspired by the power of muralism, and looking for new ways to interact and communicate with the public through his paintings.

Following on from his portraits of Chairman Mao, his latest piece uses a visual aesthetic found in Chinese propaganda posters. The piece counterpoints a communist propaganda poster celebrating a new bridge and railway line with a waving golden lucky cat – a mass produced piece of plastic found the world over.

The text at the bottom of the image explains that children are observing the progress of a communist city, following the arrival of capitalism. Ever explained that he wanted to represent a clash of cultures and the contradictions it produces. China lives the contradiction of a communist regime embracing capitalism, whilst Latin America wrestles with its indigenous cultural roots and its history with Europe.

There are lots of interesting personal touches to the painting. It’s inspired by Mexican social realist muralists, but Ever has chosen to use images from Chinese propaganda because it suits the aesthetic he’s been exploring.

The text below the image is written in French, because Ever attributes his political perspectives to the time he spent in France.

And whilst this is a mural with a message, inspired by history and painted beautifully in a classic style, it’s location says “graffiti” as opposed to “institutionally sanctioned mural”. The mural is fairly well hidden by a tree, and is painted on the front wall of a squat, next door to a busy parilla.

Nerf cubed

(para versión en castellano, click acá)

Graffiti can be a challenging term to define.

Is it any marking scratched into or painted on any flat surface, as the latin word “grafito” itself originally indicated? Is it an illicit letter based form of art, painted in aerosol on walls & trains? The Buenos Aires based artist Nerf claims the title graffiti writer, but is perhaps best known for his futuristic abstract style which defies categorisation.

Nerf first began exploring graffiti when he discovered the New York graffiti movement and hip hop culture in the late 90s. He quickly mastered the use of aerosol, and developed a style that rivalled the best writers in terms of technique, style and complexity.

Though Nerf continues to use his name as the basis of many pieces, employing his own unique stylized approach to lettering, he has also developed a parallel style that crosses over completely into abstraction. Fascinated by forms and the way they fit together, Nerf uses toy blocks and puzzles as his inspiration for complex isometric 3D forms.

Creating three dimensional forms on a two dimensional surface requires an extraordinary amount of practice, patience and skill. Many other artists rely on sketches and painters tape to help them create an image and manage perspective. Some will even use computer modeling software & projectors to create an image. The precision of the lines and angles is fundamental, as well as the subtle development of light and shadow, and the layering and shading of colors done to achieve the impressive visual effect. If any of these elements is even slightly off, the impact is lost completely.

Whilst many artists incorporate 3D elements in their pieces, very few are able to work as intuitively and spontaneously as Nerf. Without the aid of a sketch, guides or any visual aids, Nerf approaches walls with nothing more than the colours he’s chosen for the day. His organic 3D masterpieces are created completely freehand.

Nerf’s development as a writer and an artist reflects a broader evolution within the scene. As with all art movements, graffiti has evolved as writers tested the boundaries and experimented with new techniques.

There are writers who insist upon a strict and narrow definition of what graffiti is and isn’t, and many have little tolerance for pieces which deviate from “old school” letters.

Nerf has no qualms about describing himself as a graffiti writer, whilst continuing to adapt and change his style. Neither does he have any issues painting with other artists from very different backgrounds. The mutability of his 3D cubes allows him to mesh with just about any style, and create spectacular and unique collaborative murals.

When all is said and done, “graffiti” much like “street art” is just a label. Labels conjure up certain things to certain people. There are broad and narrow interpretations of what labels mean, and interpretations change between cultures and over time.

Nerf’s work isn’t defined by his style, his techniques or the locations in which he paints. Nerf’s work is ultimately defined by Nerf himself.

Melissa Foss

nerf buenos aires graffiti

nerf buenos aires graffiti writer

nerf  buenos aires graffiti artist

cubes by buenos aires graffiti artist nerf

nerf buenos aires graffiti artist

Mejor en bici: bike tours of Buenos Aires street art & graffiti

We love cycling, and have wanted to run a bike tour for ages. So we’re very happy to have partnered up with the excellent people from Biking Buenos Aires and now run a tour on two wheels every Sunday afternoon.

Riding through the streets is one of the best ways to get to know the barrios of Buenos Aires. Cycling around gives you a different perspective on the urban walls, and is a great way to explore and find hidden street art pieces.

Many of the artists rely on their bikes to help them scout out new walls to paint. Some artists like Gualicho even take their paints with them as they cycle, so that they can start work straight away whenever they find a good spot.

For those interested, the graffitimundo bike tour lasts about 4 hours and is $35 USD for the tour, bike & helmet hire and refreshments. We take a leisurely ride around some of the lesser-known spots in Palermo before heading up to Villa Crespo to see fresh pieces by artists such Mart, Jaz, Zumi, Ever, Nasa, Nerf, rundontwalk & Stencil Land to name but a few.

As with all our tours,  our close relationships with artists and intimate knowledge of the scene allows us to reveal the stories behind the art, the different styles and techniques on display together with the cultural and historical context of the movement.

The tour is run in collaboration with the Biking Buenos Aires crew, who keep everyone safe on the road, maintain the bikes and make sure we’re topped up with water, maté and biscuits.  For more images of the tour, the Travel Chica has some great shots on her blog.

Just shoot us a mail if you’d like to join us, a shiny playera bike and the colourful stories behind the walls await.

(All images are by Mart, and are taken from his flickr)

street art in buenos aires by mart

street art in buenos aires by Mart