Hitnes, Lucamaleonte, and Curated Walls
Combos are always hard in my opinion. You need to pick the right artists who mesh together and can blend their styles without one overwhelming the other. That’s hard enough when you have two artists, never mind more than that, which can often end up looking like a patchwork quilt without a thread to bind everyone together. Luckily the work of Lucamaleonte and Hitnes on the via delle Conce underpass is a perfect artistic combination, with both artists focusing on nature – Luca concentrating on plant life in a black and white monochrome to mimic his stencils and Hitnes depicting the colorful animals for which he’s known. It’s an interesting time in Rome right now, with more and more public/sanctioned walls, which is great in one respect, as it brings more visibility to artists, but on the other is a bit strange to see as someone who has always loved the illegal, out of boundaries nature of street art. It’s a topic which came up at my book presentation in Rome and an issue that isn’t just in Rome, but street art across the world, as Brooklyn Street Art just published a really interesting article about the boundaries between street art and public art, illegal walls and curated walls.
This underpass is a perfect example. I actually love the work quite a bit (though I’m not sure how long it will be in good condition, as already just a short time after the creation paint is being washed away by water pouring down the walls), but it is also a bit sad to see an area that was the go-to place for many street artists for years be taken away. I say taken away because rules of respect (and the quality of work) dictate that no other artists would paste up or paint over this work, though tags are bound to happen. I put together a little slideshow of some other works I’ve photographed in the underpass over the years and was also reminded that even before I knew anything about the street art scene, I snapped this work by Hitnes in another underpass nearby. This underpass was also recently curated and repainted by numerous artists, some Italian and some international, and was tagged over a bit. Just goes to show that everything has its life cycle, legal or illegal. In fact, a few months after taking a picture of Hitnes’ cat in 2008, I was walking by it on my way home when I saw some kids crossing over his work. They yelled at me to pretend I hadn’t seen anything and I’d actually forgotten about it until recently. Not following street art at the time, I didn’t know who they were or why they’d decided to disrespect the piece, more than thinking it was a shame not only that they were covering it up, but that they were doing so in a way that was senseless, without adding any value of their own. But that’s the street, and that’s why I love it. You can’t put a lid on something that never had one to begin with and while right now legal walls are all the rage across the world, and have value and excitement in their own right, the lid will blow off again when people miss that adrenaline and passion for revaluing space and putting their mark on that space, without permission.
What do you think? Curated walls versus illegal walls…..what’s positive and what’s negative about it?