Yola – The Vicious Circle
Wheatpastes are found in cities across the world, where the technique provides artists with a practical and inexpensive method of putting an image on a wall. In cities with strict anti-graffiti policies, pasting offers an alternative to painting. An image that would take several hours to paint can be pasted up in a matter of minutes, which is an important consideration for artists looking to avoid confrontations with the public and police. By contrast, wheatpastes are rarely seen in Buenos Aires. The public and police are more tolerant towards artists and street art, so there’s less of a need to hurriedly stick things on walls and run away. Besides – printing in Buenos Aires is expensive.
With relatively few wheatpaste artists active in Buenos Aires, we were really excited when Yola got in touch with us and talked us through her ideas. Yola is one of the most unusual and innovative wheatpaste artists in the world. Her creations feature classical paintings recreated using contemporary models, and she incorporates her passion for renaissance art, her wry sense of humour and her formidable talents in image manipulation and digital composition into her work.
Over the years her artistic career has progressed from illicitly pasting posters in Parisian streets, to being informed by the Polish minister of culture that she was free to do whatever she wanted on any public building, anywhere in Warsaw. Taking full advantage of this freedom to work, she created a series of increasingly ambitious pieces, some spanning several floors in height and requiring cranes and specialist teams to paste them up. At scale, her work becomes arresting and highly provocative. The public cannot avoid her pieces, which can be an issue. Whilst paste ups will inevitably be peeled away from the walls by the wind and the rain – Yola’s are sometimes brought down by human hands – critics who object to her subverting religious imagery in her pieces.
Her piece in Buenos Aires is a recreation of a painting called “The Vicious Circle” by Jacek Malczewski, a Polish artist whose painting depicts a circular dance, which represents human lives becoming entangled in history. Yola explained that her interpretation of the piece explores the relationship that migration has with this sense of entanglement. The models who posed to recreate the painting hailed from across Latin America and the rest of the world, as did the three street artists who shared the wall with her – Jaz, Other & Corona are from Argentina, Canada & France respectively.
The spectacular piece nestles between one of Jaz’s lion masked wrestlers, a demonic creation from Other and a set of serene, regal faces painted by Corona. Whilst elements of Yola’s piece currently overlap the other pieces, this was fully anticipated by her collaborators, who plan to return in the weeks to come and add the final touches to fully integrate their pieces with Yola’s.
There are very few artists with the technical skills required to create a piece like this (when not pasting things to the side of buildings, Yola works on CGI and digital composition for major Hollywood productions.) Even fewer would self-finance a trip to the other side of the world to recreate a relatively obscure Polish masterpiece. But aside from the impressive scale, techniques and unusual concept behind Yola’s work, what we enjoyed most was the way she collaborated and interacted with others. She incorporated the public into her piece, recreating the painting using local models and newly-made friends. In true Argentine style, she connected with local street artists to create a collaborative mural, and finally – she put the piece up in a busy street where everybody could see it.
Yola’s art, whilst highly specialised, is created to engage and interact with the public. This is surely one of the ultimate aims of art in the streets – to connect to the general public in a way that art in a museum cannot.
Yola’s piece is located at Charcas and Sanchez de Bustamente in Palermo, Buenos Aires.
You can see more work from Yola here: http://yolastreetart.blogspot.com/