Urban Art : World's Finest Gather In Africa's Graffiti Capital

City of Gold Urban Art Festival



World's Foremost Graffiti Artists Gather In Johannesburg For Annual Urban Art Festival

In what has become one of Johannesburg's most prestigious art events on the city's busy calendar, the City of Gold Urban Art Festival brings together South African urban artists and four of the world's iconic Graffiti giants; MRDHEO from Portugal (Porto), SOLO ONE from the United Kingdom (London), FALKO ONE from South Africa (Cape Town) and WADE from the United States of America (New York) for a weeklong art fest which will feature exhibitions, murals, tours and much more.

I selected the two pieces on view above and below this text as examples of the work undertaken by two of the graffiti artists visiting South Africa this week. The outstanding piece (above) by MRDHEO, titled APORTUGALYPSE, reflects the current austerity conditions being experienced by the people of Portugal as a direct result of being incorporated into the European Union, superimposed by a symbol of the thousand year old resolute faith and determination of the Portuguese nation to repel invasions by foreign bankers. That is what it means to me, as a Portuguese architect. To someone else it could mean something completely different; a mentally ill individual might see it as a post Russian invasion scenario and yet another (brighter) individual might see it as the outcome of telling NATO to bugger off back to America.

And that is the wonder of urban art; it is public, it is open source, it is shared by all 24/7. Works of size and beauty which adorn the urban and the virtual are caught by the eye and evoke an emotional response in most. It is this ability to generate individual and group emotional response that is at the core of urban art's popularity, growing culture and social value. As public as the images might be, the emotional response is always very personal and frequently important and meaningful to the individual viewer.

For example, the wonderfully serene piece by SOLO ONE (below) is pure beauty and harmony. It's a feel happy piece, an Alice in Wonderland moment - most welcome after MRDHEO's reality check.

Urban art has a relevant and practical role in the urban landscape; it enriches the environment and empowers citizens. If in Johannesburg this week consider attending one or more of the great festival events - if not keep an eye on the Blog where the day's events are posted at the end of each day.

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