The power of the word is omnipresent, we can all view it in unique perspectives, and although many witness it , at the same time; our moment is personal. The word ‘universe’ translates as ‘one-short phrase’. One Word, in a biblical sense created life. Words are used daily to encourage, to hurt , to build prejudice, and so forth. Advertisers use words with the motive to sell; Evangelists use words to save souls and graffiti artists use the word to engage.
Peter Drew; Adelaide born artist has plastered the country with elegant portraits of Aussie’s that enable us to question the meaning of being Australian; a concept beyond a backyard BBQ.
“When your sneaking around the City at night you feel like a kid again.”
Drew is a peace activist that pastes a sense of reason into the hearts of the commuter. A casual glance at his picture-word statements is a thought provoking experience. He recognises that the street is an equaliser and draws the spectator into a dialogue of connection. Drew questions identity and inclusion. In a hi-vis vest, the artist has plastered up to 4000 artworks with a glue bucket and a broom.
What began as local phenomena, has boomed into an International experience; his reaction has become a political dialogue. He is an Artist with a message.
The NGV is currently hosting an exhibition that highlights the rise of New York Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat whose career began with writing simple and convoluted statements on city walls, under the identity of SAMO. Influenced by Andy Warhol, the artist leapt from advertiser to agitator, using the concepts of ownership and branding in a broader concept.
Basquiat entered the art scene as an urban nomad notorious for couch-surfing and graffitiing the homes within which he stayed. With word and form the artist took ownership of the material, ownership was translucent, a tender shift from theirs to mine, with a simple C within a circle around it and it was copyright; it was his.
Within the Warhol tradition the ‘Radiant Child’ used graffiti to promote his brand and identity, the ME generation was born, already bored with life. Basquiat however, possessed a passion that his mentor lacked; a statement involving the treatment of the ‘Black People’ in American.
Mr Eternity was a media title endowed upon a graffiti artist that wrote the word ETERNITY in perfect copper plate using chalk and crayon around the streets of Sydney for over 20 years. He kept his identity secret, until he was caught in the act. On the New Years Eve of 2000, the Harbour Bridge blazed with the word ETERNITY in honour of its humble artist.
Arthur Stace was a broken man when he walked into a Church for some tea and rock cake. He was an alcoholic born into domestic violence and palmed off to foster care, he fought in WW1 and lost the mental battle. Waiting for his cake and tea he was subject to a sermon that resonated within him and he became transfixed with the concept of eternity. He left the Church in the dark and broke down into tears, beneath an urban fig tree. This was his turning point, he never drank again.
“You’ll soon be back in the gutter again.”
Local police scoffed at the ‘new man’. He was back in the gutter but this time , not to lay in it, but to save souls and feed the homeless; he was on a mission. His practice was to rise at 4am, help the homeless and graffiti the word ETERNITY though-out the City.