Fantastic beasts and where to find them – animals and monsters on the wall

 

Every since i was a kid, i had dreamed of a world full of monsters and magical beasts. Well as I grow up, I was convinced, not by others, but by myself that the day would never came, until i discovered graffiti. Graffiti is the voice of people. Without rule or restrictions, artists are able to express human beings’ realest intrinsic thoughts in public. Magical beasts come alive on the street, each carrying a different meaning and a beautiful wish.

“Did you ever see an elephant fly?”(Dumbo 1941). The first piece is about an old man’s wish to retain his childhood dreams

Etam Cru- Bezt and Sainer

Polish, born 1990s

Baloon, 2011

Spray-painted on the wall of Galeria Urban Forms, Lodz, Poland

 

Etam Cru is a polish graffiti team made up of two young artists Bezt and Sainer whose real names remain unknown for privacy purposes. This graffiti piece is titled baloon with one “l” instead of two, which depicts a lean old man riding on a “flying” elephant whose flying ability relies on a single regular sized balloon. The scale of the work is enormous, it is spray painted on the wall of 4 stories high building.The electro-limed color of the elephant and the tiny balloon all serve to emphasize the magical reality style of the art piece.  Different audiences might have different interpretations, but in my opinion this graffiti is greatly inspired by the 1941 Disney movie Dumbo which also delineates a flying elephant. The old man persistently holds on to the elephant which symbolizes his childhood dream since it’s the last pure piece that hasn’t been contaminated by today’s realistic but boring outside world.

 

Similar to the first piece, the second piece also depicts an elephant but in a completely different style.  With a wish to inspire people with species beyond human’s imagination, Alexis steps on his journey to the streets of London.

 

Alexis Diaz

Puerto Rican, birth date unknown

Hybrid Octo-Elephant, 2013

Painted with brush on Hanbury Street London

 

Alexis has been a street artist since he was young.According to him, “I felt that traditional, paint-on-canvas style had its limitations – I had always dreamed of creating art for all people to enjoy”(wide walls). In fact, his murals do stay true to his words. This hybrid animal graffiti is a perfect example of the ever-evolving street art. Aside from the creativity of this art piece, the art style and the painting technique are outstanding as well. The mural is created meticulously with multiple minimal brushstrokes which can hardly be detected by our bare eyes. Limiting the brush stroke gives the mural a realistic look which contradicts with the fictional nature of the painting. From a pedestrian’s perspective, the octo-elephant is reaching out from the other side of the wall as if it really exists in the material world. The whole piece took Alexis an entire week to finish which suggests it’s still considered a challenging piece for an experienced graffiti artist.

 

Keep meandering on the street of London, you will see a baby rhino suddenly appearing at the corner of an intersection. His eyes stare straight into your soul as if he’s going to tell you a life story.

Pure Evil

British


I am a Unicorn, 2014

Spray painted on a wall in Shoredit
ch, London, England

 

This graffiti piece depicts an ordinary rhino standing on the sidewalk titled “I am a unicorn”. The rhino itself has been painted carefully with different kinds of brushes in a realistic style which contradict with the childish font of the title to create an irony. We all know that this is a rhino not a unicorn. From the steady eyes of the rhino himself though, we can tell that he himself is convinced that he is a real unicorn despite what others might tell him. This rhino symbolizes the younger version of us. Everyone has thought of something unrealistic or seem to be unrealistic to others in their childhood. Some couldn’t stand the peer pressure and the failures so they chose to give up on their dreams to live an ordinary life that others wanted them to live. But others fought through their dreams, did the impossible, and became the person that others would never thought he/she could be. This graffiti piece is trying to convey that there should be no discrimination on dreams. If a rhino can become a unicorn, nothing is impossible.

Just next to the United Kingdom lies another magical beast with a similar pair of steady eyes. The owl of Athens, the guardian of the Greek people looks over this declining empire from an ordinary street corner..

 

WD aka Wild Drawing

Athens, Greece

Owl of Athens,2016

Painted with brush on a wall of abandoned building at the corner Constantinou Paleologou and Samos Street in Metaxourgio.

 

This Painting is inspired by Jimmy Hendrix’s famous quote “Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens”. The owl symbolizes wisdom and the goddess Athena who gave her name to the city of Athens. On the other hand, the owl itself is known for its good vision of long distances in low luminosities which symbolizes greek people crave a wise leader to help them to live through the government debt crisis.The painting has been painted realistically with a shiny big eyes staring directly towards the audiences as if it knows every secret of the human history. It symbolizes the god that looks down on us from above, listens to all mundane trivia, and does justice to us mortals silently. The curly bronze decoration which normally appear on ancient greece buildings surrounds the owl, giving the whole piece a historical atmosphere which suits perfectly with Athens this ancient city. As the author wrote himself, “Today, Greece, and not only, experiences a very dark phase and I think it’s time for us to remem
ber the wisdom of this creature”.

 

The amazing graffiti was painted on behalf of the festival “Little Paris of Athens” organized by the Athenian Artistic Network, the Culture, Sports & Youth Department of Athens Municipality and the Attica Region which subsidized by the French Embassy in Greece.

 

At the opposite side of earth exists another guardian. It’s a soaring dragon that travels oversea to visit its people from another reign.

Yingjie Chen

Chinese

The Soaring Dragon, 2016

Brush and spray painted on a wall of
Chicago Chinatown.

 

Different from other western graffiti artists, most chinese graffiti writers have no problem revealing their real name to the public since in Chinese s
ubculture, name revealing is not considered as a shame but rather a special honor. Some graffiti artists even uses graffiti writing as a springboard to assist them entering the re
l fine art world. Using his fame in the graffiti world, Chen tries to propagate Chinese culture and art style throughout the world. The Soaring dragon is painted in traditional chinese ink-painting style with a western twist. Aside from the black and white outlines, foggy backgrounds and the classic chinese dragon looking figure, the artist also introduced a bo
ld electro-lime color to the painting which adds a modern twist to a traditional drawing. Also, this art piece is not drawn on a rice paper which a traditional ink-painting would be painted on but instead on a wall made out of concrete and bricks. The dragon has been a symbol for china for thousands of years. Chinese people even like to refer themselves as the descendants of dragon. Dragon symbolizes power, peace and harvest. The fact that this piece is being drawn on a wall of chicago’s china town suggests that the artist is trying to use this image to remind those residents of the chinatown that although they’ve immigrated to the United states, they are still descendants of dragon. So not only should they remain the moral standard and good virtue that have been passed down the generations but they should also visit china, the root of their origin, sometimes in their life to show appreciation.

 

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”(Albert Einstein) Magical beasts not only exists on the wall but also in every individual’s heart. Graffiti serves as a catalyst that provokes the deeply buried or long forgotten thoughts of the people. This is the charm of graffiti, artists can freely expose the inner voice of human nature out in public without restrictions from censorship and rules.

 

 

 

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