The Spanish street art duo Pichiavo brought the antiquities and modern day graffiti together last week on a soaring multi-story wall in Borås, Sweden. Ironically both are under attack at any given time these days -- one by terrorists eager to erase and loot symbols of unholy civilization and the other by the municipal buffing of unsanctioned aerosol tags.
In one mural the Valencia-based duo are encompassing many battles and, as it rises amidst a building complex that was once a textile mill here by the Viskan River, the duality of the piece is awash with color and movement like so many fabric dyes being dumped into a stream.
For Pichi and Avo, who merge their names as one on artworks, the creation process of their murals includes first laying down a blanket of aerosol tags and then precisely rendering the figures of Greek and Roman mythology and sculpture over top as a semi-transparent screen. In this case the fierce Greek goddess Latona guards her son Apollo and his sister Artemis, commanding the bricked space and raising questions.
As a passerby looks at this mashing of imagery one may be reminded of the fiery and perplexing tensions that exist in discussions in academic and public-policy circles about the worthiness of graffiti, street art and urban art alongside traditionally more revered art forms and styles. Another audience will see the battles between the various practices on the streets themselves, of which Pichiavo are well acquainted. Witness the faded "Toy" bubble branded on the infants hip - a term used to disparaged new unskilled graffiti writers.
Pichiavo tell us that the supportive relationship depicted extends between the mother and her children and that the figures are deliberately chosen to portray their own experiences. "Our aim was to represent graffiti and street art and the overall movement through Leto's figure. Here her children are the writers, or artists. According to Greek mythology Apollo and his sister Artemis were the most important protectors of Leto, defending her from attackers of all kinds. This allegory can be applied in the street art world, where many people try to take advantage of something that it is growing and we, the writers ourselves, need to defend and protect that which we care about."
Pichi & Avo showing off their work at No Limit 2015. Boras, Sweden. September 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
This is No Limit, the second installation of murals done primarily by street artists in Borås, a pristine and pleasant city about 45 minutes east of Gothenberg. With the leadership of artist Shai Dahan and organizers Stina Hallhagen and Anders Khil the local tourism office works year round to promote this festival and the quality of the pieces are top notch due to the careful choices of international big names and up-and-comers.
In addition to this diversity, the scale is varied with massive walls like those by the Chilean Inti and Poland's Robert Proch, and more personal-sized installations in surprise locations around town by American illustration artist David Zinn and New Jersey's sculptural stencillist Joe Iurato.
With maps, food trucks, tours and near daily coverage from local media, including the largest outlet "Borås Tidning", whose façade was painted this year by Los Angeles native Tristan Eaton, this city of about 65,000 turns out small crowds to watch the progress from the sidewalk and interact with the artists.
"The people here are enthusiastic about the artists and their works and really engage with the art," says Dahan, who serves as director of the "No Limit" festival and who also organized a pop-up gallery show of work by international and local artists in the heart of the city.
Across the street from the university is a "first" for a mural by the Chinese-born artist DALeast, who has not previously worked in the industrial cerulean hue that dyes the fibre-like threads weaving an enormous flying bird's wingspan across a graduated modern façade. Dahan tells us that it is meant to be seen from the ground level for students and faculty at The Swedish School of Textiles.
"When he arrived in town he sat with his black book right here," he says, motioning to the contiguous wooden seating platform running along steps leading up to the august bird. "He sketched the entire mural from this vantage point, and this is the best perspective to see it from."
Next year the city is planning a sculpture festival and the murals will return in 2017. In the mean time, have a look at new work from Curiot, DalEast, David Zinn, Dulk, Inti, Joe Iurato, Logan Hicks, Robert Proch and Tristan Eaton.
Robert Proch. No Limit 2015. Boras, Sweden. September 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Dal East. Detail from a photo taken above ground. No Limit 2015. Boras, Sweden. September 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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