Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Spray Paint Artists: A Performance Art Form

Unknown Aerosolgrafia artist entertaining an audience.
Written by Michael Ashman

Spray paint is not just for covering walls in graffiti, it can be used as a form of performance art. Aerosolgrafia, or spray paint art, is a divergent movement from graffiti art with an emphasis on performance as well as merely a visual expression. This art form is characterized by its flashy and futuristic-looking landscapes filled with planet-shaped objects, and radiant pyramids. On the street, artists quickly create their spray paint art for their audience. They often frantically switch paint cans and relocate their stencils over the canvas to keep the process entertaining to watch. Popularity for this offshoot of graffiti art quickly grew and gave the artists another way to express their urban style.

The founding father of this art style is Ruben "Sadot" Fernandez from Mexico City. In the early 1980’s, he began practicing his spray paint art out of his studio. Soon, he attracted a crowd as he moved out into the streets of La Rosa in Mexico City. He sat with a multitude of spray cans around him creating different landscapes, figures, and faces onto different canvases without using a brush. He painted to classical and rock music often sharing his views and opinions to his audience. His influences stemmed from other graffiti art from America and Europe, pop art, jazz fusion music and beatnik poetry. He was a poet, an intellectual and an entertainer. Even after his death in 1988 his spray paint art continues on.

Aerosolgrafia is more entertaining to watch than graffiti art. It is an amazing street art show in itself as artists spray quick passes of paint over a glossy sheet of paper or canvas. They build a unique landscape using only spray paint, different bowls for shapes, and blotters, such as paper towels and sea sponges. Sometimes the artist uses different cuts of newspaper to create texturing effects on the wet paint. There are many other, unique objects painters will use to alter the texture of the paint already on the canvas, such as plastic grocery bags or inside-out socks. Shapes such as planets, buildings, mountains, pyramids, are easy to create with stencils, folded newspapers, and circular lids. The artist must work fast before the paint dries and to keep the energy up for the crowd of onlookers.

The process of spray paint art works in reverse when compared with other art. Instead of painting the background first, some of the foreground objects, such as planets, trees, mountains, have to be painted first so that the colors are layered correctly and are in the right spots. Artists create a layout in their mind and use techniques, such as predetermined blocking and masking with objects. After many layers of carefully placed spray paint, the final product takes form and astounds the artist’s audience.

To learn more about local graffiti artists check out Thumbprint Gallery located at 920 Kline St. #104 in La Jolla, CA. Many of artists featured at Thumbprint Gallery have been influenced by the graffiti art scene. They have prints and stickers for sale at the online store.

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