Local Lore: FESTIVAL MURAL brings MTL artists to the forefront
IX’s coverage of the epic four day streetart fest continues, with a profile on the local talent stepping up to bat.
There is nothing so fascinating as walking past a brick wall, and seeing the remnants of an artist trying to tell you, ‘here I am. This is who I am.” It’s a remnant because the writer is long gone, and when that level of opacity can be broken and you can watch the message come to life before your eyes, it’s not only exciting, it lends an eye into how and why street art and graffiti has risen as a form of modern contemporary art in the first place.
Canada’s first streetart and graffiti festival kicked off yesterday on Montreal’s Saint-Laurent Boulevard with over 20 international and local artists painting a series of murals over the course of four days. It’s a pretty big deal in terms of Canada starting to find a place on the international public art scene, and one of the great things about hosting a graffiti and streetart festival in Montreal is that the local talent is truly crème-de-la-crème. I’ve often heard Montreal described as Canada’s graff Mecca, a place for national and international unions among writers and artists to form. While the international presence at the festival is sure to impress, the bill of Montreal natives is what really attests to the city’s role as a player in the global public art community.
If you’ve spent much time in Montreal, you’ve likely seen the work of these artists on the streets. You can see them out at MURAL’s Saint-Laurent site at work and their ongoing four day murals projects. IX is also teaming up with the WZRDs crew and filming a timelapse video of the crew’s four-day mural project so look out for that.
In the meantime, here’s a little backstory on MURAL’s close-to-home artists:
One of the few street artists whose tag thematically connects to their work, OMEN deals specifically in fusing the normal with the haunting and the supernatural. OMEN is a super advocate of the advancement of aerosol-based public art, aptly pointing out that “no other medium has met with such resistance in its quest to be accepted as a valid form of expression."
He is probably most well known for his close-ups of languid faces, often melting into one of another or appearing to whisp away with the wind. A celebrated street artist in Montreal, his work has shown in such cities as Paris, Toronto, Sydney and Taipei.
One of the critical minds behind Montreal's EN MASSE, a street art-oriented collective that produces huge black-and-white murals. Botkin’s solo large-scale street art work is a real departure from EN MASSE’s monochromatic aesthetic. Comic book heroes and graphic novel prove to be a major aesthetic inspiration for the Denver born artist, who now lives and works in Montreal proper. His huge characters take on green sea-monster like shapes, their sheer size imposing a real comic book feel.
A major player in the art community of Montreal, Botkin’s huge green monster he did for Art Basel Miami last year earned him some solid points on the global street art scale.
Kaleidoscope faces dominate Labrona’s street art work, a layering and patterning of colours, stern glances and melancholic gazes. It’s hard to pin-point exactly the thematics at play in work though it’s easy to identify the vague tribal elements. He’s worked on a ton of murals throughout the city, both solo and in collab with other street artists (well-known for his huge piece with PRODUKT).
He’s not a Montreal native, but Toronto is close enough and OTHER warrants an honourable mention for the cross-the-world infamy of his bright and bizarre wheat-paste characters, staring you straight down from trains, pulldowns, and doorways. With their brightly patterned sweaters and grotesquely posed hands, it’s almost as though OTHER is creating creatures to represent all the creative energy and personality contained in a wall. They’re all working to the same cause: to capture your attention and hold it, and thus OTHER works a lot with posing, lending a strong body language to each of his characters (many, for instance, appear to be waving at you).
His aerosol work is usually on a bigger scale, and has earned him some international acclaim. Among his best-known work is the monstrous schizo-headed character done in collaboration with SADDO in Dresden:
main image source: unurth.com (OTHER in collab with SADDO, Dresden)