Humourous, captivating, disturbing and heavily engaged urban frescoes adorn the walls of cities worldwide. However, with street art’s increasing presence in galleries, many believe that the street art is “domesticating” itself, and is losing its urban identity. Artsper takes to the streets to find the 10 street artists you simply must know.
Evidently, we cannot approach the street art subject without talking about Banksy. Mixing politics, humour and poetry through stencils of children, soldiers and even monkeys, Banksy’s murals have become an essential reference for every street artist. Through provocative imagery, the enigmatic Banksy creates highly engaging artwork.
Alexandro Farto, A.K.A Vhils, is a Portuguese street artist born in 1987. Vhils’ notoriety exploded when Banksy invited him to the London Cans Festival in 2008. Vhils travels around the world, creating his monumental frescoes and revolutionising stencil-based artworks. Vhils approaches graffiti with a variety of media and material, including scissors or even jackhammers.
ROA is a Belgian artist from Gand, who predominately works in Europe and the United States. He creates enormous black and white murals, which most of the time represent animals such as rodents or birds. His work explores the classification of species and living organisms.
Eduardo Kobra is a Brazilian artist, who began his career in 1987. Kobra transforms urban landscapes into multicoloured frescoes, which often carry political messages warning of the effects of global warming and deforestation. Kobra’s kaleidoscopic works have earnt him an esteemed ranking in the world of street art.
You might have seen various “invaders” adorning the walls of Paris or Los Angeles. These popular computer game characters were created by an artist who hides behind the pixelated faces of his subjects, never revealing his true identity. Since the late 90s, Invader has turned the streets into an urban tribute to 80s video games, “invading” public spaces with a vintage, digitalised reality.
6) David Choe
David Choe is an American street artist and graffiti enthusiast. in the early 2000s, Sean Parker, founder of Napster, commissioned Choe to decorate the Facebook HQ in Silicon Valley. As a reward for his murals, Parker offered Choe cash or shares in the company, and despite his lack of faith in the start up, Choe chose company stock. Like Choe’s artworks, Facebook became astronomically famous, and Choe’s stock options are now worth over $200 million.
At the core of every existentialist argument lies the question: who or what is hidden behind ABOVE? However, when it comes to the street artist, we know that he was born in California, and that he began his career in the mid 90s. ABOVE now travels around the globe, painting his artist name in several languages, across walls worldwide. His garishly vibrant murals are accompanied by arrows, which always point in one particular direction; and we’re sure you can guess where.
“La rue est la plus grande galerie d’art au monde” (“the street is the biggest art gallery in the world”). The artist earnt worldwide recognition for his black and white works, often exhibiting them in favelas and slums. Aiming to represent the underrepresented, JR even created a film dedicated to women, entitled “Women are heroes.”
Using wheat-paste, Swoon creates life-sized murals of highly detailed figures. Her works are often depicted on abandoned buildings across New York, and tackle social, political and environmental injustices.
10) Lady AIKO
Lady AIKO’s works are a fusion of Eastern and Western culture, particularly Japanese and American aesthetics. AIKO’s works celebrate not only urban art, but also femininity, Pop art, abstraction and contemporary Japanese style.