Public Art in Madrid, Part Two: Mixed Media

23 10 2011

Madrid isn’t internationally renowned for its public art scene, but there’s a certain creative spontaneity wafting through its corridors that keeps me hot on the scent of evolving expression. The second half of this two-part photo series focuses on Madrid’s colorful imagination as expressed through alternative mediums, such as paste-ups, scratch art, photography, and accidental beauty. The first half can be found over at the blog of Tripping.com, where I did a guest post regarding some of my favorite painted discoveries throughout the city.

IMG_5317

Paste-ups are a versatile street art strategy, allowing for off-site assembly and quick placement. Designs are previously printed, drawn, or constructed on thin sheets of paper, then affixed to the designated surface using a mixture of cornflour and water, similar in composition to walpaper paste. It’s the same stuff you see workers using to put up advertisements around town, repurposed in the name of public art. This shawled figure and her bird guard over calle Lavapiés.

IMG_5363

This small piece’s retro-cartoon flair is complemented by the tattered out-of-use door in barrio La Latina.

IMG_5325

Paste-ups tend to be way-up, keeping their vulnerable edges away from grabby fingers. As such, they frequently perch high and dry for lengthy periods of time.

IMG_5395

However, sometimes even the most high and mighty take a nosedive.

IMG_5340

Stencils are another frequent strategy to rapidly transfer art into the public sphere. For whatever reason, most stencil work I see in Madrid tends to be radically political in nature; this battleaxe wielding woman proclaims “Critical Cunt” (a word which is a million times milder in Spanish, by the way).

IMG_5381

Someone’s indignation that “Japan kidnaps children” is foiled by Iñaki’s sharpie’d response that he kidnaps Italian girls.

IMG_5331

These scuffed frames in southern La Latina are unique as far as I know, a striking series of modern antiquity. Each one holds a yellowing print showcasing aspects of Olde Europe.

IMG_5350

Disregarding the rainbow “cerrajero” (locksmith) melange seemingly coating each and every metal pole in the city, stickers are a common, low-risk strategy used to quickly spread an artist’s style. The duck head is absolutely everywhere; I’m pretty sure I even spotted it during my recent foray to Berlin.

IMG_5354

This series of four is the only instance I’ve come across of printed photographs as street expression. Based on my experience in the darkroom, I doubt they weather moisture too gallantly; not too sure that they’ll fare well through the winter.

IMG_5344

Scratching away bits from swaths of solid color to reveal image in negative is a way to achieve striking, detailed results. The concept is the same as those multi-hued sheets of paper covered in black wax that you doodled on as a kid; in the hands of an expert, this kind of quietly stunning work is the result.

IMG_5356

Scratch artists often choose human faces as subject, coaxing unbelievably realistic textures out of nothing at all.

IMG_5366

Combining techniques here beckons a shy woman’s visage to peer out from surrounding chaos.

IMG_5333

Not sure what the original approach was here, but I like it. An eye, tucked in a Lavapiés nook, that doesn’t seem to care whether it sees anything or not.

IMG_5398

This ghostly guy is carved into a concrete façade in a Malasaña street crawling with botellón-happy revelers at night. Seems like he’s ripe for some color; I’d watch this one for sudden updates.

IMG_5375

Some of Madrid’s advertisements traipse all over the line between the tainted world of commercialism and pure imagination. These two are hidden down an alley in that no-man’s-land of wholesale shops between La Latina and Tirso de Molina. The style totally kicks; the alley totally stinks. Madrid is due for some serious rain, and soon.

IMG_5411

Occasionally the ads need just a little push in the right direction. This begoggled beauty is near Antón Martín.

IMG_5379

Seen here are further stickers, plus a pair of parodic public service announcements. Madrid’s been running ads for some months now proclaiming, “Respetemos y apoyemos a nuestros profesores” (Let’s respect and support our teachers), evidently in response to an investigation that revealed that professors were regularly insulted in 74% of high schools, taking it as far as physical aggression in 13%. Yikes and yikes.

Recent educational reforms have meant budget cuts across the board, resulting in mass firings and subsequent enormous class sizes (among other things, but that’s perhaps for a seperate post). A good green-shirted portion of the city’s up in arms in a tidal wave response, including the above-pictured parody: “Despidamos y humillemos a nuestros profesores” (Let’s fire and humiliate our teachers).

IMG_5391

Is accidental art a genre? How might it interact with found art? At what point does it become “art”? Does it have more value in being so recognized?

Good questions. Don’t know. Don’t think the sexy dog knows.

For more, take a gander at Part One of the Public Art in Madrid series, a guest post I did for Tripping.com, wherein I explore Madrid’s public spaces awash in the more traditional expressive medium of paint.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 50 other followers