Unconscious bias is a curious beast, but it lurks in each of us in one form or another. One expression of it in me is the assumption that street artists are male unless they are not…if you see what I mean. I have made some terrible gender assumptions in the past with T-Rex, Skor85 to name just two, and so it was with Zabou. I have seen her work in London, but automatically thought she was a he. How glad I was to actually see Zabou at work during Upfest and to be able to write this post without falling in to the trap of gender assumption.
To their credit, the organisers of Upfest do not ask for the artist’s gender on the application forms for entry and so never quite know what the gender mix will be at the festival…this year it was about 35% female artists, which, in what we consider to be a male dominated arena, is very encouraging indeed.
This piece by Zabou, originally from France, but now operating out of London, is a stunning portrait beautifully executed, and it is really interesting to see from these pictures how the layers build up to give the final whole.
I love the little sprays of colour on the hand, fingers and face of the subject – it is these little details that bring works like this to life. I really love the portrait, and wish I had been able to find a little bit of time to speak to Zabou, but the festival is large and the days short. Maybe next time.
One of the privileges that wheatpasters have is that they can spend lots of time in the studio conceiving and preparing their work, and only a few minutes pasting it up. That is not to say it is in any inferior to any other kind of street art, it is just different and requires different skill sets. Perhaps the most challenging part is finding the exact right spot to paste a piece up, and in this instance, Face the Strange has nailed it with this large expanse of red brick wall.
The piece itself is a clever reworking of Waddington’s Cluedo in which each of the characters have been given the Face the Strange treatment and have heads relating to their names. I really rather like this concept piece as did many other visitors to the festival who were gathered round it. This artist’s name says it all really.
Tim Marsh is not an artist I know, but I feel I almost know him by proxy as he is a friend of Lewis Duncan, he of the brilliant No Grey Walls website featuring street art in Barcelona – and there’s the link, Tim Marsh who was born in Paris now lives in Barcelona. You can read a great interview between the two here.
This piece is a cool take on The Simpsons theme for this year’s festival and shows a rather furtive Bart in a hoodie smoking a cigarette. This is the Bart that he might become if ever he gets any older. The title of the piece perhaps gives us more of a clue, and introduces other famous people…Salvador Banksy.
The piece has been nicely painted and the bits of tape in one of the pictures give you a clue to how he achieves his straight lines. This is a lovely piece on a new wall for Upfest and one that is well worth searching out…It is in Ruby Street, Bedminster.
This magnificent piece by Danny Rumbl is in a retro style that I really love, and it reminds me of the fine character works of Deamze and Sepr. The subtle blue-grey shades are extremely effective, and a great example of how sometimes ‘less is more’.
Danny Rumbl is an illustrator from the Netherlands who grew up with and was inspired by American cartoons of the 1960s, children’s books and nature all of which I think are reflected in this piece. What I like most about it though is the simple form, the crisp, clean lines and the solid fills. A highlight of the festival.
I don’t get to see very much of Guts’ work, but when I do see it I pretty much always like it. His style seems to bridge that gap between graffiti and street art and always feels a bit old-school, a good thing in my view.
This shutter piece features ghosts, skulls and monsters but all framed in a gentle and humorous style. The fez on the red ghost to the right of the piece really tickles me – I don’t know why. Lovely piece.
The quality of Stencil work at this year’s Upfest was once again really high, and this beautiful piece from Neverender Design is just one of many examples of this. The portrait is a six layer stencil piece which looks rather tribal to me and is full of atmosphere and mystery and well as being technically excellent.
Neverender Design is a huge inspiration to any wannabe artists because he was inspired to start his own work at Upfest 2013 and he decided he would like to return to the festival as an artist rather than as a spectator. Well, here he is, and in my view he has absolutely smashed it. There’s hope for me yet.