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.
This is the second piece that Xenz has sprayed in Dean Lane since Upfest (that I know of), and it is great to see his work here in Bristol. For a time he lived in Bristol and was active alongside Banksy and Inkie. According to his website, he now lives and works in London, so it is extra nice to see his work in Dean Lane…maybe he has moved back.
These beautiful birds perching on telegraph lines are something of a trademark in many of his works, wildstyle writing or murals. They are full of charm and character, even though they are put together quite simply.
Mazzi C is an artist whose plain speaking and informative Upfest biography profile tells us that she is inspired by natural organic forms and Oriental art. Mazzie C, from Cornwall (my favourite place) goes on to say that she finds the juxtoposition of natural themes and street art using sprays and inks interesting. Her work is driven by dialetics of nature and urban culture. Well mine too – welcome to Natural Adventures.
This small work is subtle and engaging (I want to use the word charming, but it always sounds so patronising). There are several things going on here – the beautiful bird set amongst triangles and stencilled flower patterns, the swirling folds are also really well crafted, almost as if the whole thing is made of cloth. Now I just need to see some of this work on walls!
I spoke to many people after Upfest and this incredible macaw was considered to be one of the best pieces of the festival, and it is easy to se why. The composition is perfect, filling the awkward panels with consumate ease, the colours and flow of the feathers is magical, the piece is full of movement and spectacle. Taking a closer look, the work is composed of triangles that come together to create the whole. I love this kind of artistry, and the whole thing shows a creator at the top of their game.
The artist, Mehsos, is from Belgium – something special seems to be going on in Belgium, with Bisser and Dzia also producing outstanding pieces – and generally works with portraiture. It is interesting to read from the UPfest programme notes that Mehsos ‘deconstructs emotions and highlights contrasts both in terms of colour and message level’ I’m not entirely certain what this means, but I like it. One for the top ten.
One of the stars of Upfest 2017, and quite rightly so, was Dzia. This incredible artist has been brightening up streets all over the world with his beautifully drawn/sprayed animals with a style so unique and recognisable. We have been lucky enough to get this robin.
On the face of it, his pieces are constructed with lines, almost like doodles that, when brought together, create a magnificent whole. The pieces he creates look like they have come out of an A4 sketchpad and yet they are scaled-up significantly and work just as well. There is often a lot of white space in his work, but again this works in his favour.
This wall had been reserved for Inkie, but for whatever reason he didn’t fill the space, so Dzia got an extra wall and Bristol got this magnificent robin. This was actually his second piece and supplementary to his main piece which is at the Red Point climbing centre. I still haven’t gone there to photograph it yet, but when I do I will be posting it here.
I feel like it is a real privilege to have one of his pieces in Bristol, but to get two is simply being spoilt.
Oze Arv was a very busy man during his short stay in Bristol for Upfest. This Portuguese artist from Lisbon uses patterns to mix expression and graphics. His style is instantly recognisable, as you will see as I post all of the work he left behind for Bristolians.
This is a lovely shutter piece on North Street, one of two ‘official’ pieces he sprayed for Upfest. Shutters are always hard, but he has been smart with this one, laying down a white background, which lifts the whole piece really well. I think most of his work tends to include the natural world.
I like the combination of the abstract and natural, I think it works well. I caught up with him for a few minutes, and he seemed like a really nice guy, happy to chat about his work. Lots more to come.
I remember well the lovely piece by Fats in the Tobacco Factory at last year’s Upfest. This year she produced another fine work in South Street park, where I was able to catch up with her for a few minutes.
Fats talked a lot about her background and heritage, which is truly international and mixed, and how her work receives many influences, from Arabic calligraphy to the styles of indigenous Inuit people. Our discussion ventured further into the perils of perceived appropriation and how this can create some tensions. This is a tricky path really. At what point does ‘being influenced by’ transition into copying?
I am clear that Fats’ work is stunning, and carries many influences that she skilfully executes in her own lyrical way. I see more of the North American influence others may see more Arabic. One thing is clear, she loves her dark drawing lines. I actually really like this piece, and was grateful for her time.