Stunning street art in South Africa
The Love South Africa group on Flickr is constantly updated with fantastic images taken all over the country. Why not share your pictures, too?
Each week we choose photos from this group to showcase on our blog. This week we celebrate South Africa's stunning street art. Popular and recurring themes are history, culture and identity, as in the image below.
These creative forms of expression were born at a time when people could not express themselves due to oppressive systems that did not allow it. As talented Cape Town-born artist Mak1one says '... [it is] an incredibly powerful [art form] that has been used globally to engage with and speak on behalf of disenfranchised communities for decades...'.
Now street art is going mainstream on walls, houses and in public places; and through cultural exchanges between local and international artists and initiatives to get artists to collaborate in making a difference in various communities. Graffiti and street art bring people together, be it through the messaging or through the conversations that are started near the pieces, as in the photo below.
The Viva Foundation Township Art Project is one of several initiatives that use art to uplift communities. The project is based in the Alaska Informal Settlement in Mamelodi East, Pretoria, and is about 'creating a living art gallery', says CEO Meleney Kriel.
Artists like Solo One (who painted the image above) and Daisy (who painted the image below) have given their free time to this project. The Viva Foundation says art uplifts areas and attracts tourists, which in turn stimulates the local economy. The project also involves mentorship of local artists and recently held a festival in the Western Cape.
Cape Town's Woodstock area features many such works by local and international graffiti artists. United Kingdom-born artist Louis Masai Michel is concerned with wildlife and his art often raises awareness about species at risk. He spent time in Woodstock creating this Rothschild giraffe. Masai's work speaks to graffiti's roots of giving voice to the voiceless, in this instance, on behalf of endangered animals.
Side Street Studios, also in Woodstock, is a huge supporter of this art form and has given artists like DALEast, Nard and A.Dub free reign on its walls. For more information on Side Street Studios and some information on Cape Town-based artist DALEast and a few other graffiti artists, visit the Side Street Studios website.
Falko one, or Falko, whose work is featured at the Human Settlements Contact Centre in Manenberg, Cape Town, is one of the most famous street artists in the country and many young artists credit their interest and inspiration to him. His work can be found across the country and he often collaborates with other local artists, such as South African-born Rasty.
Part of the Once Upon a Town project, a collaboration between Falko and Rasty, this image was done in Pella in the Northern Cape. Rasty says the project was about '2 artists, 2 towns, 16 days, 40 walls, 10 split pieces' and this painting was done on the first day. Rasty is also the founder of an annual festival called the City of Gold Urban Art Festival, which aims to promote Johannesburg as a street-art destination.
Another great collaboration is this work (below) by popular Cape Town-based artists Faith47, Mak1one and Os Gemeos, a reminder that art is not simply made to be placed on walls in galleries and only seen by those who can afford it. Art and beauty are for everyone, to be enjoyed by all.
Mak1one, who describes himself a 'socially aware artist', uses his work to inspire those living in disadvantaged communities to pursue their dreams and talent, and this piece, celebrating former president Nelson Mandela, is a great example of that. He grew up in Mitchells Plain, a community on the Cape Flats, and he says that discovering the expressive medium of graffiti art in the late 1980s was liberating: 'It empowered me to express who I was and what I was thinking.'
Not all street artists get full credit, though. This fantastic piece in Durban has since been removed from a wall on the corner of Argyle Road (now Sandile Thusi Road) and Cowey Road (now Problem Mkhize Road). Nevertheless, it stands as a vivid example of the uplifting power of art.
Sadly, we could not feature all the wonderful and talented artists in this country and their amazing work. Instead we invite you to come to South Africa, discover new pieces, spend money and help stimulate the local economy, then share your photos with the Love South Africa group.