Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Art Without Borders Part One

 Photos of eL Seed’s graffiti art at Matter
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 23, 2016
 “Vidigal Favela” graffiti art by eL Seed, photo courtesy Matter.
Originally published in the Weekly Volcano

The Tacoma design showroom and gallery, Matter:Tacoma made modern, is offering a rare opportunity to see the work of French-Tunisian graffiti artist and TED Fellow, eL Seed. His global initiative to share the message of peace through graffiti art is more urgent now than ever. eL Seed has given permission to show photographs of his work at Matter, with a portion of the proceeds going to support the work of Doctors Without Borders. This is part one of a three-part series called Art Without Borders.”

The art of this world-renowned graffiti artist is essentially fine calligraphy writ large on the walls of buildings and other structures. It is a far cry from mere tagging. 

Matter co-director Lisa Kinoshita wrote: “(eL Seed) has developed a signature form of art combining the fluid lines of Arabic calligraphy with the street dynamism of Western graffiti — in a style he calls, “calligraffti.” With stunning originality and vibrancy, eL Seed has created messages of peace on streets and buildings in the capitols of Europe, the U.S., the Middle East, and around the world. His artwork, which came to international attention after the birth of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, holds a universal call for peace and goodwill, as well as specific relevance for the places and cultures in which it appears.”

In “Didouche Mourad”, located in Algeria, Arabic writing forms a circle on the side of a white building approximately five stories high (as I deduced by counting the windows in the photograph). A wall label explains that it is a line from an Algerian song: “How could I forget the land of good? How could my heart be in peace?”

“Vidigal Favela” is writing in pink outlined in black on the roof of a building. It is nestled on the side of a mountain above a town on a calm bay. The photograph is taken from a vantage point even higher above showing the town, the bay and the surrounding mountains. The artist said of it, "At the top of the hill, I see this amazing rooftop — brand new, white. You never find a white rooftop. I started painting this poem from this writer from one of the favelas, Gabriela Torres Barbosa, I did my piece, took my picture and left." Later he found out the building was a new art school.

Pont des Arts in Paris is a bridge built by Napoleon in 1802. Thousands of modern visitors have left padlocks as tokens of love. Recently the locks were removed because there were so many that they thought the bridge would inevitably fall into the Seine, and eL Seed was invited to paint the structure. He chose the words of Balzac: "Paris is in truth an ocean: you can plumb it but you'll never know its depths." 

It would be nice if these and the other works shown at Matter could be seen on site, but we’re lucky to have the photos Also showing are photographs of works by Paris-based artist, Jean Faucheur, a seminal figure in the Paris street-art movement of the 1980s. He tagged in New York with Keith Haring and showed at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery. Today, he owns an art center in the Belleville section of Paris.

Art Without Borders Part One, noon to 6 p.m., by chance and by appointment through Dec. 15, Saturdays and by appointment; for appointment call Lisa Kinoshita 253.961.5220, Matter, 821 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.879.3701.

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