maandag 24 april 2017

Magical street art in Johannesburg!

Street art is popping up all over Johannesburg, and the rest of South Africa for that matter, even international renowned streetartists find their way to they city. Durban, Cape Town and Joburg are street art hot spots and street artists and appreciators are fond of areas like Woodstock, Newtown and Troyville to name a few. In Joburg much of the city’s public art is concentrated in the Newtown Cultural Precinct.

Just down from Gandhi Square, where Mahatma Ghandi’s contribution to South Africa is commemorated, is one of the country’s most impressive pieces of street art. Una Salus Victis Nullam Sperare Salutum can be found on the corner of Rissik and Fox Streets and is renowned artist Faith47’s massive rendering of galloping and fighting zebra (zebra may look adorable but the males attack each other mercilessly for the right to mate: routinely biting, stomping and ‘thwacking’ each other with their heavy necks and bodies).

The Latin inscription is from a poem by Virgil written in 19BC and means: 
‘The only hope for the doomed is no hope at all’. Or in longer form: 
The only safety for the vanquished is to abandon the hope of safety. 
Surrendering to the knowledge that there is no hope, can bring courage.’ 

The juxtaposition of a classical Roman poet with something as primal and dynamic as zebra somehow mirrors the seeming paradox of the quote. Creative director Donyale Mackrill is dwarfed by the mural, which takes up a city block and was painted in the deserted lot after a department store was demolished.

If you go down to Doornfontein in Johannesburg today you are in for a big surprise. Look up along Sivewright Avenue as you travel north in the direction of Yeoville and there, hanging on the wall of an otherwise ordinary commercial face-brick block, is an elephant, a rhinoceros, a giraffe and other wild creatures.

They appear to be lying across the reinforced concrete beams, their limbs hanging limply, their eyes closed. Asleep or extinct – the artist has left it up to you to decide.

The remarkable work is by Belgian street artist ROA and is one of a new collection of large-scale murals that dot the eastern part of the city, spreading out from the Maboneng district.

It is part of the I Art Joburg project that launched this month with five artists – ROA, Steve "Espo" Powers from New York City, Remed from Madrid, Durban's Cameron Platter and the pioneer of South African graffiti culture, Falko, from Cape Town.

The Orlando Towers are one of the most recognizable landmarks in Soweto. All that remains of a defunct power station, the towers’ lively murals were designed by Janine Kleinschmidt, who was inspired by both the ordinary and famous faces of the sprawling township. The Soweto String Quartet – founded in 1992 by four classically trained black musicians who use Western instruments to make African sounds – are sandwiched between a black-and-yellow Metrorail train (hundreds of thousands of commuters use them daily to get from work to home) and a domestic helper, emblematic of the millions of black women who earn a living cooking, cleaning and taking care of children in other peoples homes.

The towers also depict women warming themselves around a brazier – a common sight in winter – and Regina Mundi church, the largest black Roman Catholic church in the country and the scene of many clashes during the struggle against apartheid. You can visit Regina Mundi (which means ‘Queen of the World’) on a walking tour of the history of Orlando

The German street art duo Herakut painted this signature mural which reads “You Can Not Catch Me So Just Let Me Be”. Impressive is the beautiful reflection in the eyes. If you are in Joburg, you’ll find it in Old Chinatown near the corner of Commissioner and Miriam Makeba Streets. 

The Long Wait by Faith47
Miners are waiting for justice. workers are waiting for a living wage.
Men are waiting for jobs. we are all waiting for an honest politician.
So many people are waiting for others to do things first. to take the blame.
To do things for them. to take the fall. to build the country. to admit defeat.
There has been so much waiting in this country that much time has been lost. –Faith47

Freddy Sam was invited to paint a 40 Meter tall Nelson Mandela mural in the east city of Johannesburg commissioned by the Maboneng precinct as a gift to the city in memory of this giant of a man. The mural is inspired by Madiba’s definition of ‘Ubuntu’ which is: ‘You cannot be human all by yourself’.  The artist chose to paint the iconic image of him boxing as he believed all were equal in the ring. Also this wall is not to far from the rooftop where this image was taken.

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