Haunting Street Art

There was once a time when street was associated with a negative connotation, often referred to as graffiti or vandalism, only to be painted over and “made good”. But now we live in a modern society where graffiti is referred to as art and is celebrated. You only have to Google the likes of Banksy or Hosier Lane in Melbourne to see how famous it can become. Gone are the days of Van Gogh and easles, time to make way for Vhils and spray paint.

From the depths of despair

Before I Die Candy Chang
Before I die Wall | Candy Chang | Image by candychang.com

Sometimes, the art can be quite haunting by the message it is trying to send or the deeper meaning behind the work. Candy Chang, from New Orleans, went through a dark period of time where she suffered severely with depression. In the depths of her struggles she decided she wanted to do something to get a discussion going about death because as felt it was such a taboo subject. On a crumbling building in her town she used chalkboard paint and a stencil to etch the words “Before I die I want to _____” all over the side of this house. The aim was so that people walking by could pick up some paint and put their answer there. The next day the wall was filled and continued to grow. Today, there are over 4,000 “Before I die” walls across 70 countries and whilst this is remarkable, it is chilling to think it all stemmed from 1 woman being so deeply depressed that she needed to understand her community’s reasons to live.

We wear the mask

Pavel 183 Image by Rex Features
P183 | Moscow | Image by Rex Features

Pavel 183 was a street artist in Moscow. His works were very politically motivated and it was evident that he put a lot of his own feelings and emotions into his art. The work lives on now despite the fact that he died in 2013, causing it to haunt the streets it belongs to. When looking back at his work, with this in mind, you can see he was clearly an individual who had demons of his own and that he didn’t see himself in the best light by the use of dark colours and covered faces in his portraits.

Untimely goodbyes

Loughborough Junction Tragedy
© Copyright Nigel Thompson

There’s also the terrifying reality of artists who didn’t wish to meet their end but did so with spray paint in hand. Just recently on June 18th of 2018 there were three young men who were hit by a train in the early hours of the morning whilst putting their mark on a nearby wall. Those around them knew exactly how passionate they were about their art but looking at their work now will be a painful reminder of the price they had to pay to be seen.

Alive still

Killing Ourselves by Pejac
Killing Ourselves | Pejac

Effectively street art is there to be admired, and often that is what happens, but for some individuals who can see past the paint through to the message behind it, the truth can be a hard pill to swallow. The artists behind the masterpieces are choosing this medium for a reason; they want a platform in which their messages can be heard. When they aren’t, the consequences can be tragic but the art lives on like a metaphorical ghost.

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