Lucamaleonte – Back on the Street
Lucamaleonte is someone that anyone following street art in Rome knows. He belongs to the first generation of artists, starting out joining TTS with Diamond and JB Rock a few years into their journey and sharing a studio space with Sten + Lex up until earlier this year. However, since I began photographing street art almost three years ago, his work on the street has been sparse. He’d turned the corner and decided to focus on gallery work and commissions – understandable given the incricate nature of his hyperrealistic stencils. As a photographer and art lover, however, I must admit that I was annoyed. Had I missed the chance to photograph Lucamaleonte’s work on the street? In fact, the images I do have to this point are few and all commissioned, legal walls. What’s the point of all this buildup? Well it’s just to explain my excitement when the people at Laszlo Biro mentioned the other night that he’d pasted some new work in Pigneto and was itching to start putting stuff out on the street again. This new work (see the other piece here) is no rehash of what he’d done previously, but shows the maturity and evolution of Lucamaleonte and is very much in line with the art I’ve noticed him producing over the past few years. Less concerned with endless layer stencils and getting back to the basics of nature and drawing. This is something I noticed in 2010 when I asked Luca to participate in my exhibition “Street Walls Experience” and prepare a new piece to pair with a photograph I had taken of a collaborative poster by him, Sten, and Lex. The resulting work, a small paper with incisions depicting insects and butterflies foretold a change in his work, pulling him away from classical sculpture and architecture and looking toward nature, using old techniques and drawing skills that were readily apparent to anyone who knew him but perhaps less so to those who know him for his impressive stencils.
The nice thing about following the progression of artists over a long period is the opportunity to see how they develop and grow, how their inspirations change and they push themselves into new arenas. Lucamaleonte’s new posters, both photographed in Pigneto, show just that. They are no less impressive than his classic stencils, but show a softer side while still highlighting the attention to detail that make his stencils so memorable. The strategic use of gold and geometric elements lends an interesting modern twist on what could easily remind one of a folio from an old nature book. Can you tell I’m enthusiastic? In any case, welcome back to the streets of Rome Lucamaleonte, they missed you and my camera is ready.