OK, so this is one of those pieces that seems to have become quite iconic in the wake of Upfest. Everything about it is contemporary with the mood of the nation and other nations. It is bright and colourful but hides a more sinister discontent behind the hoodie and mask. My interpretation, which might be very wrong, is of resistance and revolution, of clawing back some decency, some freedom.
The piece, by Tysall, is one of the most memorable of the festival, however, I am not familiar with the artist at all. I believe that he is Bristol-based, and have found a rather nice interview with him here.
I think his entry in the Upfest biographies is one of my favourites:
‘Just trying to make my own mark… or mess, I’m still not sure which it is.‘
There is a pretty strong and obvious message in this morbidly humorous piece by El.Viz. Smoking makes you sick. I used to smoke quite a lot, but it was imagery like this that helped me to kick the habit almost twenty years ago now. Good thing too.
El. Viz is an Irish artist working out of Dublin and is a studio artist as well as taking to the streets. I like the following line from his Upfest biography, because it tells you all you might want to know:
‘Heavily influenced by 80s cartoons and punk rock, he blends lowbrow culture with surreal pop art‘
I think that this is a bit of a cheeky Upfest piece from Jee See, a Bristol graffiti artist that I have featured on this blog many times before, and one whose work I particularly like. The suggestion that it is a bit cheeky is because I can’t see his name on the artist list for the festival, and this board was erected outside one of the venues, almost as if it was a bit of a teaser.
I am guessing that there were a few ‘no shows’ for the festival and that spare boards were available for some local artists. This is all based on my own assumptions, and as I was once told, to assume things is to make an ‘ass of u and me‘.
Anyhow, I am pleased that Jee See managed to present his work and combine his trademark seismic writing alongside a beautiful portrait…all so very Jee See.
This is what you get when two mischievous artists collaborate, each with their own inimitable style. When Chinagirl Tile and Angus got together at Upfest this year, they produced this rather special piece which arguably was the most controversial of the festival, causing offence to some.
The raccoons are by Chinagirl Tile and the mosaic hand gesture is by Angus. Unfortunately the piece in its original state didn’t last too long at all before it was ‘redacted’ with some black tape.
Not long after that, the hand was completely replaced by yellow tiles, and the piece has really lost something. I will leave you to judge which version of this you prefer. For my part, this work challenges the ‘sanitised’ art you tend to get at festivals by being provocative and edgy, which is where most street art and graffiti art has its roots. Some really interesting perspectives being played out here.
For the second year running I managed to miss (probably by moments) Aspire at work during Upfest. Actually I have not yet met him, and now that he operates out of London, the chances of that happening are rather remote.
Aspire was allocated one of the really nice walls this year and by the time I got there on the Saturday morning, he was finished and his gear was neatly piled up ready to go. I always know with Aspire that he never fails to delight with his brilliant birds and trademark pixellations.
In this piece he features a rather charming male bullfinch in all his finery.
These are two really beautiful pieces that I wish I’d spent more time looking at during my walk around North Street Green at Upfest. Each of them is calming and serene, and they make a fine pair. I am not sure if the co-location was by accident or by design, but it works very well.
The left hand side is by Paintily, a Bristol-based artist originally from Brighton. There is something about this stencil that I like a lot, and the stripes on the face of the girl finish the piece off beautifully. I have not seen any of her work before, but would love to see her take her work to the streets.
The right hand side is by Taina, and has the feel of a children’s book illustration. Such a simple idea and so beautifully painted, there is a whole story unfolding here, and one I want to know more about. Taina is a Swiss-Finnish artist based in Zurich whose work I think I could very well fall in love with. A quick look at this website might give you an insight as to why I like her work so much. I definitely want her to return next year.
This stunning work was the official piece from Oze Arv this year, although he left behind several other pieces in Bristol before he departed. I had not seen his work before Upfest, but everything I have seen I like a lot.
There is something about black and white check in street art that I really like, and here it blends beautifully with the softer abstract shapes. There is a story being told here, and the two orange circles contain elements central to this story. I like pretty much everything about this piece, and look forward to posting more from this Portuguese artist before too long.