As we’ve arrived in Stavanger for the 19th edition of the Street Art phenomenon that is the Nuart Festival, we’re impressed with the amount of work that the participating artists have already put around town. From outdoor pieces on walls, in alleys, or existing sculptures, to indoor installations being built at Tou Scene Center’s old brewery tunnels, the festival which officially kicks off today is looking as promising and as impactful as ever.
Working along this year’s theme given by the festival founder Martyn Reed, Brand new, you’re retro, the artists are challenging the current state of Street Art. With their work, they are questioning whether it’s better to keep things authentic and as they used to be, or to reinvent the whole idea through the introduction of new concepts, techniques, approaches. With that idea in mind Portuguese artist, Nuno Viegas is working on a large mural that nicely blends his graffiti past, with his present-day practice in which hyperrealism is one of his main tools. Painting a large realistic portrait of a masked individual on top of a background pattern built from graffiti symbols, he merges the old and the new and creating an exciting new hybrid. Another artist joining the two worlds is Spanish painter Julio Anaya Cabanding, who is working on a series of smaller interventions which place museum-quality masterpieces in abandoned, graffiti infested alleys. Entirely painted by hand, from the main image over golden ornate frames to the light and shadow effect, they are an original way of connecting the two seemingly opposing mindsets and proposing a mutual ground.
Simultaneously, the artists are keeping in touch with contemporary subjects, using their voice to speak on subjects of crucial importance. Spanish artist Jofre Oliveras is a great example of such a practice with his freshly painted mural that talks a direct shot at both the art establishment and the media coverage of the ongoing migrant crisis. By depicting a woman taking a photo of a painting with a boat full of migrants on it, he is giving a sharp commentary on the way media, the art world, and the general population is seeing and dealing with the global crisis. Back in town after several of years, Argentinian artist Hyuro is painting work that will surely impose questions about patriarchal and capitalistic systems of power. Offering a different way of creating public art, British artist Edwin researched the sea level rise that Stavanger will experience by the year of 2100 and is now marking it through the city. He has painted that zone with alarming yellow and black stripes and further extended the idea by wrapping up existing sculptures and objects with matching tape. Literally, under those lines or around the corner from them, Paul Harfleet is introducing his ongoing The Pansy Project which consists of planting the Pansy flower at sites of homophobic abuse. For his Norwegian debut, the artist had to take the seasonal nature of the flower into account so is now painting pansies in Stavanger’s streets.
And while works are being created both outdoor and indoor, the Nuart Plus program of conferences, talks and debates started today, followed by screenings, and the official launch of the latest issue of Nuart Journal, all leading towards the big opening of the indoor exhibition on 7th of September. Embodying the festival theme, the old brewery tunnels of the iconic Tou Scene Center will be filled with a wonderful mixture of work by multidisciplinary artists with different backgrounds.
Photo credits: Brian Tallman, Runa Andersen, Martin Varhaug,