Street Nights graffiti showcase puts the 'art' into Al Quoz party
What’s On and Hype preview Street Nights in Al Quoz (4B Street, behind Spinney’s). We profile some graffiti artists in Dubai for the event.
There will be no shortage of great graff writers and street artists – both internationally renowned and emerging talents – to check out at Street Nights. And while we can’t list ’em all (as much as we’d like to), here’s a few that should be on your ‘don’t miss’ list…
Frez A traditional writer, Dubai-based Frez has been linked to the DDS crew. “They were the most prolific graffiti crew in the UK,” explains Dubai-based DJ James Lobito. “Frez is the guy I started Deep Crates with. He’s featured in a few graff books and a movie about graffiti in the UK. Half Lebanese, he’s also been a pioneer on the graff scene in Lebanon, and he’s definitely one of the pioneers here in the UAE.”
Tarsila Schubert Originally from Brazil and now living in Dubai, the lovely Tarsila happily obliged when we asked to use her artwork on the cover this issue. “Tarsila’s work is very organic and has that Brazil feel about it,” says fellow street artist Steffi Bow. “It’s free and colourful and interesting to look at. She puts a lot of small details in and every time I look at her work I see something else hidden, so it’s always fun.” “It’s very distinctive and very representative of who she is and where she’s from,” adds Deep Crate Cartel’s James Lobito, “while she also incorporates her experiences from living here in Dubai. Tarsila is just such an awesome person, who is super-friendly and really helpful too.”
Ruben Sanchez “Ruben clearly has an insane amount of natural artistic talent,” says Steffi. “However, what I like best about his work is the creative touches and how he brings inspiration from things here and wherever he travels into his work.” “From Madrid and a former guest artist in residence at Tashkeel, Ruben did a lot of work around Barcelona,” explains James. “His style is very character based, with bright colours and organic shapes. There are components that he takes from traditional art and turns into street art. Breaking away from convention, his style is more abstract, almost in a surrealist way.”
L7M Both James and Bow are thrilled that Brazil’s L7M is one of the international artists heading to Dubai for Street Nights. “There’s a lot of interest in Brazilian street art and L7M is top of the pile,” reckons James. “His style is very tribal, very Brazilian, painting mostly animals surrounded by almost ritualistic shapes and symbols.” Adds Steffi: “L7M is a ridiculously talented street artist known globally for his unique techniques with a spraycan.”
Zomby When Complex Magazine published a list of the 25 top London graff writers in 2012, Zomby came out on top. The article read: “Zomby has been painting tubes and maybe even trains longer than anyone in the history of graffiti. A hugely respected style writer as well, his simple, hard letters have been copied by thousands over the country in the past 20 years.” Steffi says he’s “a legend with incredible letter style and flair”.
Sya As well as saying hello to Hype’s Steffi Bow at Street Nights, be sure to swing by and see what her graff artists husband Sya is also up to. “He’s a very fine example of the traditional lettering style,” reckons James. “He has a unique set of colours and colourways; is versatile at expanding his style but always respects the traditional graffiti culture.”
Barok Ipot Seriously talented and seriously underrated, Ipot’s characters often combine beauty and horror in equal measure. Don’t miss him at Street Nights.
Enforce ONE “Founder of the Cut Collective in New Zealand, Enforce One is an amazing street artist now based in Dubai,” explains James: “The Cut Collective were responsible for massive commissioned projects in NZ and used those commissioned works to fund their own personal projects. He paints mostly animals, which he contrasts beautifully with geometric shapes.”
MelanCholy “Another Dubai dweller, ’Choly is from Manila. He has a fine arts background but is huge in the Philippines’ graff scene,” says James. “Melancholy and Frez are two of my favourite artists in Dubai. They are legends,” adds Steffi.
Defs Defs’ signature style is a Filipino face, without a mouth, merged into geometric shapes. “His work is like a voice for the voiceless,” reckons James. “He’s done some really interesting things and his work can be seen all over Manila.”
Not sure what the difference is between graffiti and street art? Hype columnist Steffi Bow explains…
“Art is very subjective and people like different things. At Street Nights there will be a large variety of live artwork on show. However, it’s important that people do understand that the terms ‘street art’ and ‘graffiti’ are two different things.
“Street art tends to be more socially appealing to the public at large because it usually shows imagery and work that one could see in a gallery. Street artists, by and large, paint to connect with the general public and the general public usually understands a street artist’s work straight away; it’s more obvious and commercial.
“Graffiti is a sub-culture and for the most part a graffiti artist (or writer) mainly seeks to connect with other graffiti artists, so the general public may look at a graffiti piece and not immediately understand it, whereas another graffiti artists will look at the same piece and see a whole load of stuff. Graffiti artists are most normally called graffiti writers because they paint using letterforms and mostly paint their graffiti name.
“For example, my husband Sya’s graffiti writer name is not his real name. He paints SYA, which comes from his school report over 20 years ago where the teacher said he was a ‘superb young artist’. The other big distinction is that graffiti writers tend to paint in crews whereas street artists are more solo in their work, like loner cats.
“It’s also worth pointing out that a street artist will use a variety of different mediums – sometimes they’ll paint fully freehand with a can or sometimes use stencils, paintbrushes and wheat-pasting. A graffiti writer’s skill is purely freehand with no added tools apart from the paint itself.”
February 20 and 21
Street Nights, 4B Street (behind Spinney’s warehouse), Al Quoz, Dubai, 5pm to midnight. Taxi: Al Quoz, 4B Street. facebook.com/streetnightsDXB