"What do you write?"
For decades graffiti writers have been checking out one anothers' bonafides with this question. Even as tags turned to large complex pieces, evermore stylized through means of exaggeration or obfuscation, text has always stayed as a fundamental building block for graffiti writers.
Italian fine artist and Street Artist Opiemme took a variety of routes to employ the text-based art on the street this summer with his "journey through painting and poetry," a project inspired by poets he loves. Breaking apart, recombining, stretching and spreading the written letterform, the public poetic paintings were conceived to be site-specific and included walls and pavement installations across Italy from north to south, including Torino, Bologna, Rieti, Pizzo Calabro, Faggiano (Taranto), Ariano Irpino, Menfi, Genova, Tirano (Sondrio), and finally Rome.
"I paint using stencil and letter to create images to be read and words to be looked at," says Opiemme, who travelled more than 5,000 kilometers by train and bus to do his various installations that included 15 murals and a 7 kilometer long "River of words" painted on the pavement in Turin.
With the help of a webzine, a few galleries, and even the city of Turin, Opiemme found a receptive audience for his works, perhaps because he chose scribes known and admired in the locations he created works for. Among them are local writers and poets mixed with the American Jazz musician Louis Armstrong and Armenian-American rock band System of a Down. Also included are Edgar Allan Poe, Giovanni Pascoli, S. Francesco D'Assisi, Franco Arminio, Giacomo Leopardi, and Riccardo Bacchelli.
Opiemme says he likes to explore the border between poetry and image, public and private, and to use the printed word as a graphic element on which to build more meanings, even as he sometimes disconnects the letters from their original context. With work that often touches on social or environmental themes his work has evolved onto the street and into the gallery in the 10+ years he has been practicing. For the Turin born Opiemme it is about plumbing the fine lines between public art, Street Art, and the written word to bring poetry out into the open.
This project was covered/followed in stages by ZIGULINE webzine, Opiemme's journey was supported by: Elastico Studio and Antonio Storelli (Bologna), 3)5 Artecontemporanea (Rieti), Bi-BOx Art Space (Biella), and Studio D'Ars (Milano).
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