Sten + Lex at Porta Portese
The new, improved weather inevitably brings new pasteups, as everyone feels more secure putting their stuff out on the street without the risk of the winter rain washing it away. Sten + Lex have been busy putting up a lot of new things lately, all done in a different technique then the “stencil poster,” which is what they’ve been working with for the past 8 months or so. The first new poster I saw was in Pigneto and then I noticed one, mostly ripped off, on the side of Santa Bibiana at the end of February. They’re all created with what seems to be short flecks of paint that when seen from afar create the portrait and when viewed up closed, seem like a bunch of hash marks. It almost looks like the piece was originally black and then white portions have been strategically scratched away to reveal the image, but given how thin the paper is, I would guess it’s a build up of black around white strips, which are they removed to reveal the image. The idea actually kind of reminds me of the way that Velazquez used to render the clothing of the Spanish royalty he painted. He realized that dynamic flecks of paint gave a dynamism to the image and rendered it more fluid, while painstakingly painting each detail actually made the overall painting much more stiff.
Back to the photo, I saw pictures of it on Sten + Lex’s Facebook page and then went to seek it out to see how I might render my own image. While it’s the most fun to just stumble upon these pieces, I often know where they are through viewing images first posted by the artists. That doesn’t cut down on the detective work because sometimes it doesn’t have a precise address. For example, this one said Porta Portese, but I didn’t know exactly where so had a bit of a walk around and quickly found it. Seeing an image someone else has already taken also serves as a push and an inspiration because it makes me think more about how I render my image and what I can bring to the photograph that will distinguish it as my own beyond just the documentation of the poster. In this case, I really enjoyed the lighting I was getting right as the sun was going down and also wanted to capture the rail tracks as they bent around the curve.