There is no cohesive definition of street art because the style itself is not cohesive. At one end of the spectrum is illegal graffiti tagging that many agree is a destructive form of the art. Yet, at the other end of the spectrum is the viral and magnificent large scale art pieces that defy the need for showing in traditional gallery settings. These art works have created an urban sub-culture of their own and the art of the streets is shaping the urban landscape of many world cities.
The street art of Melbourne leads the world as it colours the backdrop of some of the cities most famous dining precincts and laneways, such as Degraves Street, opposite Flinders Street Station in the city centre.
The 90s saw a rise in ‘tagging’ which was a phenomenon of spraying or marking walls over and over with a ‘tag’ or handle, and while this type of expression is condemned by most street artists as a destructive form of the art, it paved the way for socially conscious street artists, such as Banksy in Liverpool, to create high quality artwork. Although Banksy’s works were unsanctioned and his identity remains elusive, his work in the streets of London have been both criticised and heralded for his attractive and thoughtful pieces contributing to the gentrification of neighbourhoods – pushing property prices up and increasing the desirability of the neighbourhoods where he has chosen to paint.
The difference between street art and graffiti is now widely thought to come down to the quality of the piece and the permission to create it. With permission, street art becomes ‘Public Art’.
As the art of the people, public art creates dialogue, it’s raises awareness of issues in a community and, gives the city’s artists a conscious outlet for expression. Studies seem to confirm that the presence of public art actually reduces vandalism and non-sanctioned graffiti because it creates a pro-social guardianship over a space, sending a message that thoughtless damage is unacceptable.
Brisbane has an emerging street art culture with some incredible pieces surfacing throughout the city. You can see large scale works now installed right across Brisbane, including on the Red Hill Skate Arena:
And these two pieces in Fish Lane at South Brisbane (Photo Credit: ABC Radio Brisbane]
Brisbane even has it’s own Street Art Festival, which not only celebrates the art of the city – but also it’s transition to new world city with an urban cool and culture as rich as anywhere. Keep an eye out on Brisbane Street Art by following their Facebook page.
Australian artists like Matteo Charles are really shining on an international stage. Matteo’s urban portraits of celebrities and street performance art pieces have gained him domestic and international acclaim. Check out Matteo’s work at matteocharles.com for inspiring artistry and an interpretation of the faces we all recognise.
The thing about public art and street art is that you never know when the next great art work will turn up… eyes open Brisbane