Since 1985 David Louf, aka Mr. June, has been creating striking urban interventions, recently producing murals that layer three-dimensional effects onto architectural elements. Within the last year his vibrant geometric abstractions have challenged viewer’s perceptions in projects across the world, including a piece in Little Havana, Miami, an over 130-foot diameter dome in North Carolina, a mind-bending 3D mural for RAW project in Denver, and most recently, a grandiose piece for Urban Nation in Berlin.
Whether he is painting a graffiti piece, working in his multi-disciplinary graphic design studio, or creating a large mural project, Louf continuously aims to blend his love for typography, fascination with abstraction, and free spirit of graffiti culture. These results are regularly applied to the most unusual and unexpected urban structures.
Challenged by the existing architectural elements and obstacles, Louf likes to construct creations that will interact with their environment. He uses a laser liner to sketch up the main directional lines. Then he paints his abstract designs in an almost organic way, typically filling the entire side of whatever structure he is working on. “I always hope I can create a moment of awareness,” Louf tells Colossal. “Awareness of the viewer at that spot at that moment.”
Colossal ran into him fresh off the cherrypicker in Berlin where he had just finished painting a whole building opposite of Urban Nation. Now he is headed to future projects in Amsterdam, Aruba, and China, and prepping several studio pieces for an upcoming solo show in Miami during Art Basel week. You can see more of his geometric interventions on his website and Instagram, and the water tank roof he painted in Greensboro, North Carolina in the video below.
After setting up shop in a London corner store and NYC-style bodega, Lucy Sparrow (previously) has grown her unusual art showing/selling technique into a full-blown ’80s-style supermarket. Taking up 2,800 square feet of the Standard Hotel in Downtown LA, the British artist’s fifth large-scale installation is quite literally stuffed with replicas of common, everyday products, each handmade from felt. The shelves are packed with different ramen and instant noodle soups, Reese’s Puffs, Frosted Flakes and other popular cereals, three different brands of peanut butter along with Smucker’s grape or strawberry jelly, a whole range of favorite snacks, chips, pasta or rice, and all the essential personal hygiene products.
In 2014 Sparrow successfully used Kickstarter to fund her first major project in London called The Corner Shop, which offered 4,000 hand-sewn felt products. Three years later she hopped across the pond to open 8 ‘Til Late, a bodega located in Manhattan at The Standard, High Line with 9,000 items that sold out a couple of days before the official closing date. Challenged by the demand for her plush groceries, the artist locked herself inside her Felt Cave studio for a year and produced her largest and most elaborate project to date — Sparrow Mart.
The retro shop has all the familiar selections of American comforts, including a videotape rental section with ’80s classics like Footloose, Dirty Dancing, and Short Circuit. She also has fresh hand-sewn seafood on ice, sushi, fruits and vegetables, a variety of meat cuts and other animal products, popular snacks, canned goods, cereals, candies, sodas, liquor and cleaning products. Each item is meticulously cloned from felt, a material that evokes childhood and play. The fact that the store offers 27 different types of sushi (each produced in 300 pieces), plus chopsticks, wasabi, pickled ginger, and even soy sauce packed inside iconic plastic fish containers, says a great deal about the amount of detail and determination that went into creating this overwhelming installation. Working alone until very recently, the artist ended up hiring four full-time assistants in her studio and outsourcing fifteen professionals to complete this immersive project.
Offering a felt ATM in between the isles, an exclusive gallery section in the back, and ending with three felt checkout stations, each of the 31,000 products on view is available for purchase with prices ranging from $5 for bubblegum to $73 for a kimchi Michelada. Sparrow Mart is open through the end of August 2018 from 11am-9pm (closed Mondays). The installation is accompanied with Sparrow To Go, a 24/7 restaurant in the lobby of the hotel, offering dishes inspired by the items in Sparrow Mart and prepared by the hotel’s executive chef Julio Palma. After this, the artist is considering creating a similar installation in Chicago, Dallas, Melbourne, or somewhere in Asia, like Hong Kong or Tokyo. You can see more from Sparrow on Instagram.
French artist Julien Malland aka Seth Globepainter (previously) continues to create childhood-inspired interventions around Paris and the world. Earlier this year he had a major museum solo show at MoCA Shanghai which included elaborate sculptures and site-specific installations. He also painted one of his largest pieces to date on the banks of the Seine in Paris, and took part in a creation associated with the upcoming museum of street art at the Mausa Vauban. Malland’s poetic murals resonate with audiences of all ages.
“Sweetness and innocence from childhood regularly contrasts with the chaotic environments I choose to put them in,” the artist tells Colossal. He often places the children in environments with books as a reference to their imagination and creativity. After intensively traveling to over fifty countries during the last two decades, Malland is very much aware of the way globalization and modernization are influencing local traditions. “We read less and less with the proliferation of screen habits,” he explains. “While reading we create our own images suggested by words. The screen makes us lazy and spoils our imagination.”
Eight years after his first visit to Shanghai, Malland went back to the city this March to introduce a large project which took place both inside MoCA Shanghai and in its old alleys. Focused on the idea of childhood memories, the outdoor interventions were cleverly created on crumbling buildings and in deserted side streets. The works depicted children playing emblematic games of the ’70s and ’80s, and evoked the atmosphere of the once lively neighborhood. “The vanishing traditional way of life is being replaced by a more common consumer society,” he explains. “This kind of transformation is worldwide, but it’s faster and more sudden in China. Painting those emptied neighborhoods gives me the opportunity to highlight this metamorphosis and continue to explore the traditional Chinese habits that still intrigue me.”
A few months later he took part in a project initiated by Itinerrance Gallery and the Paris City Hall, painting the banks of Seine along with 1010, Momies, and Nebay. The four artists created a long stream of colorful artwork that following the riverbed for a little bit over a mile. Along with 1010’s trompe l’oeil abstraction of an abyss, Momies’ graphic composition in the colors of the French flag, and Nebay’s calligraphy, Malland painted an anamorphic piece visible exclusively from the Pont de la Concorde. The work depicted a child sailing on a paper boat through a rainbow vortex—another incarnation of his imagery that speaks about the purity and boundlessness of children’s imagination and spirit.
Finally, back in June this year he created two pieces inside of Mausa Vauban, an upcoming museum of street art in Neuf-Brisach, France. Once again he explored the idea of children at play. One work is a compelling installation of a little boy breaking a wall and leaving a pile of colorful bricks stacked around the room and an open passageway. Malland is currently preparing for solo shows in London (November 2018), and Shaghai (January 2019), as well as an outdoor project in a pediatric hospital in the US, and is also working on several new books. You can follow his travels throughout the globe on Instagram.
Russian motion designer Vladimir Tomin recently went viral with his most recent, mind-blowing video reel titled Прогулка (Stroll). As the title suggests, the footage is a first-person view of a casual stroll, filled with a collection of reality-bending events. Tomin places the interface of his work tools in the real world, gaining virtual superpowers that allow him to bend street lamps, cause a wave of painted street markings, digitally move a slinky down a set of stairs, move or knock things over, and more.
“When you have an idea, you can’t wait to see how it is going to work, and if it is going to work,” he tells Colossal. “So you work towards it, and during the process there is stuff that you have to figure out, stuff that works easier than you planned, and stuff that is much harder than you anticipated. It’s a very fulfilling process that is fueled by curiosity.”
The inspiration for his animations comes from different sources, but in this case, he was particularly intrigued with the power of Instagram’s realtime AI filters. With everyday gadgets being so technically advanced and providing such possibilities to end users, his reel was made with the vision of what future technologies might allow. By borrowing elements from the generic motion graphic program interface, the video constructs an illusion of utilizing 3D workstation tools in real time, just as commonly as one might use Instagram filters.
The concept was realized using his actual video footage as the background, with all objects that are being manipulated being animated in full 3D, mostly using Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D. “Sometimes the idea is above everything else, and even if you currently have no clue how to make it work – you will find a way,” he explains. “That sometimes is challenging and it feels great to finally win that fight. Probably not unlike beating some nasty level in a very hard game. Hard but satisfying.”
Tomin has actively worked for over a decade as a graphic illustrator and motion designer, and has an impressive list of awards and projects under his belt. His list of clients includes Bloomberg, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Google and Intel. Vladimir is also a big Nintendo fan, and really enjoys the current trends and novelties of that world. You can see more of his graphics and video-based work, including this animated Nintendo Switch, on Instagram. (via Prosthetic Knowledge)
Hanover and Berlin-based art duo Quintessenz recently completed a large-scale installation for the newly funded Paxos Contemporary Art Project, which is currently taking place on the island of Paxos in the Adriatic sea. Although designed to be appreciated and enjoyed in person, the images of their intervention created inside of a 400-year-old ruin are quickly becoming viral due to the work’s strong contrast against the historic setting.
With roots in both graffiti and chromatics, Thomas Granseuer and Tomislav Topic of Quintessenz combine aspects of spray paint, textiles, installation, and the digital image in their work. Their large site-specific works and facade murals often uses shape as the main inspiration, while also borrowing aesthetic elements found on location.
The duo transform spaces into frameworks for presenting their abstract creations and challenging the spectator’s perception. These ideas are present in their recent installation Flickering Lights, which was was created for Fashion Week Berlin back in January 2018, and Pardis Perdus installed in Les Baux-de-Provence, France in 2017. In both of those installations, and their latest piece in Paxos, the artists use dyed or spray painted fabric in a range of layers as a way to interact with light conditions and points of view. The one-ton construction Flickering Lights was suspended in a large hall of Panorama Berlin from over 32,000 square feet of fabric and dyed with over 200 gallons of paint.
Similar to the Paradis Perdus piece, their latest intervention in Greece used the architectural structure to emphasize the effect of their creation. Like digital abstract images somehow transferring into the real world, both these pieces employ color shades and different size layers to create depth and perspective illusion. Appearing bigger and smaller depending on the observer’s movement, they leave room for individual experiences of these interfaces between analog and digital worlds. Although exceptionally photogenic, the artists’ idea is to enjoy these works in person. “We hope that the visitors of our work leave their mobile phone cameras in their pockets for a moment and simply enjoy the light and the translation of the wind in the material,” Quintessenz explains.
One of the must-see shows in Amsterdam this summer is the debut museum solo of Studio Drift (previously) at Stedelijk Museum, which balances elements of tech art, performance, and biodesign. The exhibition, titled Coded Nature, presents a wide range of transdisciplinary works from the Dutch studio that engage with topics from sustainability to issues raised by the growing use of augmented reality.
Founded by Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, Studio Design typically creates installation, sculptural works, video projections, and interactive VR. One of the standout pieces in their new exhibition is Drifter, a floating concrete monolith measuring 13 x 6 1/2 feet, which tenderly levitates inside one of the museum galleries (the video below shows the work on display earlier this year at the Armory Show in New York). The puzzling effect of seeing such a familiar object floating through space is emphasized with a video projection of the film Drifters, which follows the same concrete sculpture as it floats through the Scottish Highlands.
Contrasting the effect of the large floating concrete block is the breathtaking installation Fragile Future Chandelier 3.5 which consists of countless bionic dandelions with glowing LED lights at their centers. The labor-intensive installation, like many of the studio’s works, challenges relationships between man, nature, and technology. Other works include the light installations Tree of Ténéré and Flylight, and kinetic installations Semblance and In 20 Steps, which are all based on naturally designed forms or movements.
Studio Drift: Coded Nature will run through August 26, 2018. You can see more site-specific installations and science fiction-inspired works on the studio’s website and Instagram, and take a deeper look inside the duo’s process in the video below.
Against the backdrop of Paris Fashion Week which introduced several collaborative projects between high fashion brands and big names from the art world (Dior partnered with KAWS and Takashi Murakami continued collaborating with Virgil Abloh, the new artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection), the French capital was for the first time hit by the world’s most elusive street artist—Banksy.
Without previous announcement or warning—and to this moment without official confirmation—Parisans began to discover several new street pieces that materialized in the urban/street art galaxy of the social media universe.
The first piece was found near the Porte de la Chapelle metro station, where Paris’ official refugee centre “La Bulle,” was located until August 2017. A city within a city, it was home to a makeshift camp of some 2,700 refugees, and was dismantled an estimated 35 times before 2,000 migrants were bussed to temporary shelters. This was done as part of Emmanuel Macron’s wish to remove the refugees “off the streets, out of the woods,” as stated during his campaign.
With this in mind, Banksy revisited his “Go Flock Yourself” piece from 2008, and created a new version as commentary on the current political situation in France and throughout Europe. Depicting a black girl painting a Victorian wallpaper pattern over a swastika, the artist is commenting on the way politicians are concealing wrongdoing and potentially fascist policies.
The second and third pieces appeared soon thereafter. One depicts a suited man luring a three-legged dog with a bone while hiding a saw behind his back, a metaphor for politicians tricking people with promises that often have a masked, devastating agenda. The other is Banksy’s take on the iconic painting “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” by Jacques-Louis David, a symbol of French power and influence. By covering the rider with his own cape, the artist is commenting on the current misguided way the government is leading the country, blinding people with propaganda and false promises.
The last three pieces introduce Bansky’s signature rats to their genesis—Parisian artist Blek Le Rat and his rat stencils were a great influence on the Bristol-born artist. Placing them around the city in ways that interact with local graffiti and building facades, it may appear as though they’re having fun blowing things up. But in reality, they are a reminder of a volatile period of civil unrest that took place in May 1968 when the government temporarily ceased to function.
In one piece a rat is propelled by a popping champagne bottle cork. Using this symbol of affluence as their vehicle to overtake obstacles, the rodents are once again Banksy’s metaphor for working class people making significant change when they join together and fight for similar cause.
Update: This article has been updated to include new images.
Continuously secretive and unexpected when it comes to revealing his projects, Pejac (previously) once again surprised the art world by announcing an upcoming self-produced pop-up solo exhibition in Paris. Roughly a year since his last showing at an old gondola workshop on the canals of Venice, and a month since his surprise visit to NYC, the Spanish artist just announced this new show titled Waterline.
To exhibit this selection of new work, Pejac found an old péniche boat that will be transformed into an unconventional floating art gallery from June 20-24th, 2018. Moored right next to Notre-Dame cathedral, this vintage vessel will host his most intimate show to date, presenting a large series of accomplished studio drawings. Works on paper are a crucial part of Pejac’s creative process and are usually the first step toward large public interventions or canvases, but are truly artworks in their own right.
“What people get to see on paper, on canvas, on a wall, or as a finished sculpture, is the end of a very long trip that starts inside of you. When I start painting or drawing, that is the end, not the beginning of the process. Before that happens, I have already tried so many different ideas and made so many choices.” —Pejac for Spring issue of Juxtapoz Magazine
By showcasing previously unseen works, Waterline will grant the most direct look at the unmediated stage of the artist’s practice. Created mostly with charcoal or pencil on paper, these images are the early stages of concepts we’ve already seen turn into large pieces, or might still evolve into their final versions. Poetic and despairing, these striking pictures propose an unconventional future focused on the ways in which humans treat resources and the environment, as well as current socio-political issues and “modern society” values. You can see more of Pejac’s recent work on Instagram.