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.
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.
I approached Upfest on the Saturday morning from East Street and as I was at that end of Bedminster, dived into Dean Lane skate park because it is always busy with ‘fringe’ festival art, and by that I mean it is not all entirely official. This is one such stencil work by About Ponny, an artist not known to me before…I have immediately become a fan.
About Ponny is a highly skilled stencil artist from Bologna in Italy and I found a short biography on his Facebook page which I have translated from the Italian using Google translate. It reads as follows:
Ponny was born in Bologna one evening after dinner.
Single, but only in the name, because always accompanied; for this reason it has no gender.
Son of a game between friends and of the passion for art, in all its forms, as long as expression and creativity, incessant source of emotion.
In continuous search for balance on the edge of legality, the road torments him, the only place to express himself!
This work, in my mind, is stencil work of the highest calibre. The subject is touching and soulful, the execution brilliant, the colour scheme has an earthy and innocent quality and the location is brilliant. One of the best ‘unofficial’ Upfest 2018 pieces.