Edition 26 January 2018, by Benjamin B. Roberts
From the underground to the Art Gallery: Amsterdam Street Art Festival
It’s hard to imagine that in the late 1970s New York’s major Ed Kochwagged an all-out war on street artists, calling them criminals, and fi ning them with imprisonment and hefty fi nes. Today graffi ti art has evolved into a true art form, similar to fi ne art and sculpture, which extraordinary amounts are paid at art auctions. In fact, street art has become mainstream in the art scene that each year street art festivals are organized all around the world that street artists like Banksy have pop star-like statuses.
This year Amsterdam will host its own Street Art Festival and including twenty artists from around the world from the anonymous artist Tik Toy whose works has never been exhibited in a Dutch gallery to Vegan Flava (Sweden), Vitxy (Spain), and Otto Schade (Chili). According to Lars Brehm and Oscar van der Voorn of Amsterdam Street Art (ASA), due to the success of the fi rst festival held in 2016, they decided to host a second, with theme “Bigger, Bolder, Better” at GO Gallery. For the artists, that are used to painting on large, outside wall spaces, the festival will be a challenge as they are to present three works (50×50), (60×60), and (70×70) in size. According to Brehm, “Street art has undergone a 180-degree transition. Most of the artists started out as anonymous graffi ti artists, tagging building and subway cards with a simple logo or drawing. Now most of them use the outside to express social issues while at the same time beautifying public spaces. Pipsqueak was Here! use their art as a platform to make viewers aware of the human impact of overconsumption on mother earth. Their works often portray a small child standing next to a frightened bear, symbolizing mankind’s out of balance relationship mother-nature. For the couple, art is a platform to make people aware of the threat of climate change, the alarming rate of animals on the planet that are becoming extinct.
Van der Voorn emphasizes, “Most street artists want to relay a message to society and use street art as their forum. That’s why they painted subway cars in the 1970s because they traveled through out the city and could be seen by everyone, and were not only confi ned to the walls of an art gallery”. He adds, “The only difference is that many still wish to remain anonymous, which is a remnant from the underground world, when street artists still faced jail sentences”.
Amsterdam Street Art Festival – GO Gallery
January 20-March 17 2018
1015 VK Amsterdam
T: 020 750 72 84
Open: Thursday-Saturday, 12-18 hours, and on appointment