Aberdeen! The granite city, the city of grey! Who knew it would become such a hotbed of street art. The cities Nuart festival has already produced some amazing murals as part of it’s two previous festivals. Now established firmly as a key event in the urban art calendar. It’s third installment once again sees some of the world’s very best street artists heading to the city.
This isn’t something we say lightly. The truth is that already Nuart has attracted some real talent to the city. Firmly established over the North Sea in the Norwegian city of Stavanger, the move to Aberdeen payed homage to the close links between the two cities. The first event in 2017 really played on those links. Bringing artists across who were already well established in the Nuart family. The likes of Martin Whatson, Alice Pasquini, Fintan Magee and Herakut all creating stand out works.
STREET ART IN ABERDEEN
In 2018 the focus centered much more on the Scottish scene. Local artist Elki returning to the city to produce one of his largest and most ambitious pieces to date. Whilst Glasgow artists Conzo & Globel combined to create a much photographed comedic tribute to the chip stealing seagulls of the area. Carrie Reichardt meanwhile created a number of works in mosaic paying tribute to inspirational Aberdonian and Scottish women.
So for 2019 an even more ambitious line up beckons. A serious nod to stencil art is driven by the presence of Norway’s Strøk, Hama Woods and the UK’s Dotmasters. Street installation artists are representated by Jan Vormanns who creates art out of LEGO by utilizing spaces occuring within the urban environment. He is joined by Ememem whose tiles will fill cracks in the street and potholes in the road. Portugal’s Vhils, one of the most exciting talents on the scene at the moement, is renowned for his quite literally ‘explosive’ work. Axel Void’s dark muralism comes to Scotland for the first time. While Australian SMUG, now resident in Glasgow promises to bring a showstopper to the city.
THE ARTISTS OF NUART ABERDEEN 2019
ANDERS GJENNESTAD aka STROK (NORWAY)
An artist whose multi-layer stencils cause viewers to double take. Showing figures clambering along often giant walls. They cast long shadows which distort perspective. Seemingly inhabiting a reality in which gravity is not an option and time has suddenly frozen. His work has an other-worldy and rhythmic nature to it. Often juxtaposed as they are against the ruins of factory buildings, rusting metal and decaying plaster.
AXEL VOID (SPAIN)
Axel Void is a multimedia artist driven by a passionate interest in the art of storytelling. Inspired by truth in all its forms the artist aims to explore the visceral realness of an uncomfortable reality, or the hazy delight of nostalgia. Each and every one of Axel Voids works documents sincerity, presented with an almost journalistic intrigue. Over recent years he’s visited the UK a number of times painting in Manchester and London.
BEN EINE (UK)
Known for his unique typography he paints his colourful letters large wherever he goes. Eine is a staple of the London scene. He was there at the birth of the modern day graffiti movement and his letterforms are his current evolution. Now known more for his large scale words painted high and wide. It’s a far cry from his days tagging the streets of the city which had led him to the attention of the law a number of times. Now his work is feted by the likes of David Cameron who famously presented one of his canvases as a gift to Barack Obama. Have a look at his Petticoat Lane Alphabet here and his work at the Olympic Park here.
Another core of the UK scene. Dotmasters is also an intrinsic part of the early days of the Nuart festival. Acting sometimes as a producer and co-curator as well as artist at previous events. His work has featured in both Banksy’s CANS festivals as well as in the documentary ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’. Well known in London we’ve seen his work most recently in Croydon and Penge. We also featured his campaign to highlight the unjust expulsion of homeless people from an unused office block in the city.
An artist whose interventions cut into the fabric of a city. He creates colouful works of art within roads and pavements. Inviting us to observe the details as he draws attention to it’s imperfections. Filling potholes and cracks with colour using locally sourced ceramic tiles and grout. He calls it his ‘street flacking’ project. Stepping into spots where city council’s have failed to maintain. The result is a little bit of surrealism and magic to the structure of the city.
Inspired by architecture which the artist sees as a mirror for society. Evol utilizes stencil techniques to transform electric enclosures, concrete planters and other familiar elements of the modern city into unique pieces of art. Interested in depicting the urban lives of ordinary people. Many of his works are also narrative or suggestive of the turbulent history of Berlin. The artist is particularly interested in the postwar socialist architecture of the former East Germany. As a result many of his pieces depict grey and functional buildings with a brutalist and monumental appeal. These ‘cities within cities’ are rendered so precisely it is often hard to tell whether or not you’re not looking at real buildings when viewing his work in photographs.
HAMA WOODS (NORWAY)
Showing a reverence for nature and its immediate connection to humanity. Hama’s multi-layer stencils draw attention to greed and human consumption and its effect on our natural environment. Her hope is that her work empowers and challenges viewers to come to their own conclusions and to rethink the choices they make. Particularly those choices which might have an impact on the natural world.
HELEN BUR (UK)
An artist whose work on the street looks like it would not be out of place on canvas in a studio. Her murals weave together images from mass media which she combines through digital collage. Her work examines how the over-saturation of imagery and information can leave us in a state of disorientation and confusion.
HUSH fuses traditional eastern art with the more western tradition of action painting and graffiti. Fascinated by Asian graphic novels and inspired by the likes of Mimmo Rotella, Roy Lichenstein and Sir Peter Blake, Hush has a unique style. A visual treat, HUSH’s work results in a layering of complex textures and colours in a fusion of anime, pop-graphics and graffiti. Multiple layers of tagging and graffiti transition from the street to the studio and back again. Forming a deeper, richer exploration of colour, shape, form and ultimately, culture.
JAN VORMANN (GERMANY)
Bringing his Dispatchwork project to Aberdeen. Jans Vormann uses LEGO bricks to repair damaged walls. He describes the project as “a forum to further develop, piece by piece, a global game together”, one that encourages citizens to take back public space and leave their mark on the city in a playful way. Some of the installations use a handful of toy bricks while others have used up to 40 kilos. Having started spontaneously patching-up surfaces in Bocchignano, Italy in 2011, Vormann has since employed the technique on walls in nearly 40 cities across Europe, Central America, Asia, and the United States.
JULIO ANAYA CABANDING (SPAIN)
Taking what might be considered to be more traditional art out of the gallery setting and into the street. Julio Anaya Cabanding displaces these often well known paintings by re-producing them in often inhospitable settings. Searching for adandoned places in which to host them. The result is that he ends up ‘unlocking’ these paintings from the ‘sacred’ space of the gallery into somewhere altogether different. Generating new meaning given the new environment and how people might interact with them.
SMUG (AUSTRALIA / SCOTLAND)
Known for his photo-realist graffiti work, Smug, or SmugOne, is a contemporary graffiti writer originally from a small Australian town. Now living and working in Glasgow his murals are highly technical photo realistic figurative pieces. His murals, favoured by photographers for their engaging appeal, are created using only spray paint. A popular artist we’ve featured his work before in Leicester where his work for the Bring the Paint festival is still a stand out mural in the town.
Destroying in order to create. The Portuguese street artist who openly operates under his real name, Alexandre Farto, is internationally recognized in the forming of dramatic, oversized portraits. Made by carving directly into outdoor walls. Growing up in Seixal, an industrialised suburb across the river from Lisbon,he was deeply influenced by the transformations brought on by the intensive urban development the country underwent in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s this which has influenced his artistic process. He often involves industrial methods such as drilling and controlled explosions. The majority of the subjects in his artworks are anonymous and formerly unremarkable urban citizens. These are ‘common people’ turned into icons to create a contrast this with the need people seem to have to create icons in the first place.
The Nuart festival in Aberdeen takes place between 18 April 2019 and 21 April 2019. Photos provided in this article have been provided by Nuart unless otherwise stated. For more articles on the 2019 event have a look here for the graffiti grannies of Aberdeen. Click on the links for the murals of 2018 and the Street Art of Aberdeen.