From Taiwan to Italy and the world: a tale of Italian street art
Our story begins at Taichung, district of Nantun, Taiwan, where Huang Yung-Fu, born in 1924, welcomes every year over one million visitors who flock here to visit his creation, the Rainbow Village. To prevent the demolition of the village, the old man started to decorate the houses (only eleven out of the 1,200 that originally made up the village), streets, and any other surface available of this former military settlement with paintings of birds, animals, people, abstract images and above all with colors and forms. That is why old Huang is fondly nicknamed “Rainbow Grandpa”.
Thanks to a still very lively childlike imagination that combines the features of Juan Mirò’s works, Hayao Miyazaki’s dreamlike drawings and Studio Ghibli’s creations, Huang’s paintings capture his recollections, teachers and the siblings with whom he used to play in the Chinese countryside.
From “Rainbow Grandpa” all the way to Italy our journey will focus on today’s Italian street art and on the street artists whose works show for the whole world to see different aspects of customary, normal, daily life just as old Huang does.
Cibo’s art is aimed at enhancing the environment and at enriching it through its cultural contribution, for street art and the ideas it conveys have the power to go straight to and remain in the minds of viewers. Cibo’s art is meant to do away with the hate symbols and captions that stand out on the walls of buildings in Verona, his hometown, and to do so the artist covers them with images of strawberries, water melons and food in general following his artistic inspiration or whatever a swastika or a hate symbol may suggest. Cibo gives art a central role in viewers’ thinking precisely as Huang does in Taiwan, to remind us that art is an asset and a resource just as food is.
A citizen of the world, Jorit Agoch was born in Naples of an Italian father and a Dutch mother, and since he was a teenager has used sprays to express his art on buildings’ walls. Through his murals the artist wants to narrate stories focused on men and to provide insensitive minds with new stimuli by realistically portraying human faces whose cheeks are usually marked by two red stripes. By so doing Jorit Agoch pictorially portrays human faces that crowd his “Human Tribe”, that is a world where all social hierarchies are abolished.
Maupal’s Super Pope is famous worldwide. It appeared on the walls of buildings in Rome’s Borgo Pio district and represents Pope Francis in the classic superhero pose with an outstretched arm and clenched fist. This wall painting by Maupal also appeared on an unused shop window in L’Aquila on the anniversary of the apparition of the Madonna of Lourdes, as a positive symbol for a city that has not yet recovered from the wounds caused by the earthquake. The Super Pope wall painting was promptly erased although the artist met the Pope and gave him a painting reproducing his work. Maupal ran once more into censorship with a wall painting in Rione di Borgo, Via del Campanile, Rome. The work represents Pope Francis playing a game of morris while a Swiss guard keeps watch. Maupal’s wrong, perhaps, consists in providing his fellow men with symbols drawn on the walls of buildings, an instantaneous and long lasting form of communication.
WALLY AND ALITA
Wally and Alita started their artistic activity with handmade drawings and posters while bringing to near perfection the stencil technique that has gained them fame in the world of street art. Their artistic career further evolved with the Orticanoodles, based in the Ortica district, Milan, and had a tremendous boost when they exhibited their works in the streets of the main European cities, first with stickering operations and poster glueing, and later with creations based on a pop code focused on the use of the stencil technique. Their latest works are based on the stencil on stencil new concept in which the portraits of famous leaders, iconic personages or artists are made to overlap words to create a unified narration whose characters speak to viewers.
With Biancoshock’s works street art leaves buildings’ walls to become tridimensional and more site specific. His works are clever operations that change our reading of the most common urban furniture, so that the whole city becomes the artist’s ‘canvass’. The artist’s Borderline project, realized in some disused areas between Lodi and Milan, is meant to ironically bring to light the dramatic life conditions of people who are to this date compelled to literally live underground. Biancoshock himself writes in his site: “If certain critical situations can’t be avoided, let them be made comfortable at least”. Billboards, bins and other objects to be unmistakably found in every city are now given new relevance, and passers-by who normally ignore them are now unaware faced with artistic objects. The artist’s creations give originality to everyday urban furniture, and, as they evoke entirely new and different perspectives, they help open up new visions for people who often live in dull cities.