10 Masters of Contemporary Urban Art

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— Image courtesy of Arrested Motion

Words: Bablu Miah

The names behind the art.

London based graffiti, mural & typography collective Trapped in Zone One have been busy; they recently launched their latest project ‘Just Type’; a typography based exhibition featuring new works from some of the world’s brightest talents including Mr Cenz, Aches, Millsnic, Tarwane and Mr Christa.

On top of that they’ve also launched a new range of limited edition tees with five of the artists from the Just Type show, currently available throughout the duration of the exhibition.

To better understand the world of Just Type, we asked founder and organiser Bablu Miah to curate a list of 10 artists who, in his opinion, are the supreme masters when it comes to producing contemporary urban art.

Adnate

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Australian artist Adnate is a portrait painter who uses spray paint and acrylic to create murals on large scales across the globe and can be seen in New York, Berlin, Toulouse to name a few cities. Heavily influenced by the chiaroscuro of renaissance painters like Caravaggio, Adnate embraces portraiture like the masters of the XXI Century. Adnate has always held a connection towards indigenous people of their native land, especially with Indigenous Australians. He paints murals in the main cities around Australia and the world, creating a statement of reclaiming the land that was always theirs. He endeavours to capture the stories and emotions of each subject he paints, encouraging the audience to feel through their own experience. As he says himself, “People have told stories by making marks on walls for thousands of years. It lets people know they are alive and in turn has helped ancient cultures survive. If graffiti/street art didn’t happen, we would never know these people even exist.”

Ernest “ZACH” Zacharevic

 

Another artist who has caught our eye over the past few years is Ernest Zacharevic, a Lithuanian artist combining fine art techniques with a passion for creating art outdoors. Experimentation lies at the heart of Ernest’s style, he isn’t restricted by traditional artistic boundaries, moving freely between the disciplines of oil painting, stencil and spray, installation and sculpture; producing dynamic compositions both inside and outside of the gallery space. Ernest’s primary interest is the relationship between art and the urban landscape, with concepts evolving as part of a spontaneous response to the immediate environment, the community and culture.

Zach is currently working on the Splash and Burn project, which is an awareness campaign responding creatively to unregulated farming practices of Palm Oil in Indonesia. Tackling issues such as the transboundary haze, Deforestation, Human and Animal displacement; murals/sculptures and interventions have been appearing throughout cities and the vast natural landscape of Sumatra.

The artwork pictured above in Indonesia ‘Save our Souls in Sumatra’ covers almost 20 hectares of palm oil plantation that stretches across total of 100 hectares. The land was secured during their SOS Sumatra campaign. The plantation will be cut down and returned to wildlife, tens of thousands of trees will reforest the area to recreate a thriving eco system.

Felipe Pantone

 

World renowned Argentinian artist Felipe Pantone is a level on his own when it comes to urban contemporary art. His unique style is characterised by the use of bold colours and geometrical patterns. Straddling conventional graffiti, typography and abstraction, his work fuses bold elements of graphic design with highly evolved geometric shapes to create an ultra-modern aesthetic which complements and reacts with the stark modernity of our cityscapes. Considered today as one of the rising stars of international street art, a self-titled “child of the internet era”, he transcends the traditional notion of outdoor spaces and connects projects: monumental frescoes, paintings, sculptures and unusual facilities. Influenced by the era of the Internet of the 80s and 90s, fed with new technologies, he imagines his geometric subjects on modelling software, taking up the aesthetics of 3D creation, which he then reproduces large formats or on canvases. It brings them to life by superimposing their installations into disturbing illusions of optics that result in an explosion or an electric shock.

 

Okuda

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Okuda’s psychedelic colours, skulls, geometric patterns, always produce mental stimulation and a visually pleasing style. In 2015 he painted the inside walls of a 100-year old church Santa Barbara in Llanera, Asturias which instantly went viral. It’s called Kaos Temple, and as a skate park it gathers skaters and adrenaline lovers, but for the art community, Okuda’s murals in the church are a real out-of-this-world experience. Vibrant colours and precise shapes, this work of art is one of the most magnificent sites in the area.

Last month, Spain has a traditional festival in Valencia, called Fallas. Held in commemoration of St. Joseph, neighborhoods across the city spend the year creating a giant puppet called a falla. And This year, Okuda joined Spain’s traditional festival in Valenica – Fallas – creating an 82-foot- high falla named Equilibri Universal that sent social media on meltdown once again.

Kobra

 

Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra utilises bright colours and bold lines in a way that only he can. The technique of repeating squares and triangles allows him to bring to life the characters he depicts in his images. The checked pattern, filled with different textures, lines, and shading, builds up to Eduardo Kobra’s final masterpiece, a larger than life mural for all to see and marvel.

Eduardo Kobra’s ability to achieve photorealism while maintaining his playful tone is fantastic, making for a striking contrast against the environment it’s placed in. His use of brushes and spray cans serve as a means of bringing to life notable figures from the past, emphasising their true dignified nature and beauty.

Insa

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Renowned graffiti writer turned artist INSA has taken his practice to the next level and is always at the forefront of innovating art. Using ambitious concepts such as filming from space, and globe-hopping to produce looping-animated artwork, he has proved himself visually unique in vision and accomplishment.

Famous for his ubiquitous ‘Graffiti Fetish’ artwork that focuses on issues of modern aspirations, his visual motifs confront the fetishisation of products in modern society and the commodification of success and ambition. Another important fact of INSA’s practice is ‘GIF-ITI’, a term the artist coined when he began to create the first ever GIF animations of graffiti work; a meticulous and labour-intensive process often requiring the artist to repaint an entire wall by hand several times. This work is underpinned by the theme of online versus offline life, the artist continues his interest in confounding concepts of time and space, the ways in which we process and consume, and the transience of both art and object.

el Seed

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French-Tunisian calligraffiti artist eL Seed has taken the historic art of Arabic calligraphy merged with graffiti to the mainstream portraying messages of beauty, poetry and peace across the globe. Working primarily with subjects that seem contradictory, eL Seed’s art reflects the reality of mankind and the world we live in today. eL Seed has installed his work in public spaces on every continent, from the streets of Paris to New York City, to the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro or the slums of Cape Town.

In 2016 El Seed used his trademark style to paint across 50 buildings in Manshiyat Naser, a district of Cairo, Egypt, that can only be fully seen from a nearby mountain.

1010 (ten-ten)

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1010 is a Hamburg-based contemporary artist known for his enigmatic, street art illusions on walls around the world. This artist creates his urban confusions wall murals giving them unique aesthetics that make them seem like they are portals to other worlds. Although he has been active for more than a decade, 1010’s identity is shrouded in mystery, despite many attempts to find out who he exactly is – fortunately, this fact only makes his art seem more mysterious and adventurous.

For the past few years 1010 has been mostly focused on an abstract concept of making “holes on the walls”. One of his largest street-portals to date was painted on the closed section of highway in Paris, measuring over 4500 square meters.

Nychos

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Austrian graffiti artists Nychos is another artist whose ahead of the game blending a unique style of morbid corp-reality with colourful, hyper-loony aesthetic descended from comics and cartoons, with an outcome of immense eye-popping effect on the streets. Colliding style and subject matter, Nychos slices up characters with unflinching graphic precision. His work confronts the viewer with wicked insistence, using the shock of cartoon violence as a vehicle for exploring subtler themes of mortality and temporality. Nychos pays homage to these deathless cartoon heroes by peeling them open and giving them human substance. Using stunning colour-scapes and wild, fuming lines to create his characters – whether with paintbrush or a spray can – Nychos works with unmatched dynamism. His command over his tools indicates a work ethic that promises only more staggering output from this artist.

Boogie

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And finally, we couldn’t end without including an artist featured in our exhibition whose regarded as a legend in the graffiti world, Boogie. Originally from Germany but now residing Switzerland, Boogie is known for his oldskool letter style graffiti, clean shapes, and powerful use of bright colours that can recognised anywhere in the world. Boogie is a much-loved artist by all in the urban contemporary art world.

Head to the Trapped in Zone One / Just Type shop to browse the limited edition tees. Authentic designs by real people. 

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