& occasionally about other things, too...

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Shalak Attack....street artist

Yesterday, I met a dedicated group of young artists who have been active in street art for some years now in Toronto and around the world. These young artists are Shalak (Elisa Monreal), Smoky (Bruno Sant’ Angelo Revitte) and Fiya Bruxa (Gilda Monreal). 

They were working on a mural for a soon to be launched restaurant in Mississauga’s Port Credit neighbourhood. 

I had seen their work recently at the Caledonia and Lawrence Avenue intersection below a railway bridge at Benton Road. And, of course, they had also been involved with the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games held in 2015 in Toronto. I’ll be interviewing them in June for TAG TV.

Shalak and Bruno seen in these photographs are husband and wife, and Fiya is Shalak’s sister. 

While Shalak and Bruno were busy giving finishing touches to their work, I got talking to Fiya. 

What explains the growing acceptance of street art, I asked. It now has corporate backing, she said. That is a sure sign of gentrification, Fiya added, with a touch of annoyance. She cited the example of the street art at Queen Street W in downtown Toronto, and how it has become a tourist attraction.

If that is the case, I said, isn't it is turning into a complete antithesis of what it was meant to be – a potent instrument of protest against not just the established norms of art, but also against civil society. 

She seemed to agree briefly, but then Fiya said it’d be grossly erroneous to interpret street art as vandalism. Society continuously vandalizes nature to sustain humanity.  

It's all a question of how one sees the situation, Fiya said, and then thoughtfully added, three-hundred years from now, when future historians will look back at our times, they will wonder why were a legion of kids and young people were painting graffiti on the walks of public property across the world, and why was the world not acknowledging this as art, but only as vandalism?

Fiya said the confluence of graffiti and murals has given street art in North America a new acceptance.  

Here are some photographs and a video clip of the team at work.  Please pardon the amateurish and shoddy clip. My enthusiasm is inversely proportional to my video-making abilities.

And don't forget to watch my show Living Multiculturalism on TAG TV where I'll be talking to the three young artists. 

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