Mosaic art murals, an integral part of street culture
(4 min read) Depending on where you’re at in the world, city streets can either be historically significant or modern… Or that’s what one would think. However, most streets, especially in Europe, are an eclectic mix of both with various forms of historical and pop-culture landmarks here and there. Just like with everything else, things are rarely ever simply black and white. That undefined grey area is usually where all the fun is at, and that’s the case with street art too.
Artistic snobs would argue that art doesn’t belong on the streets, but in the parlors and private libraries of their lavish homes. They would also argue that street art is not “true art” at all, to which my local street musician would whip out his harmonica and play the “Please Don’t Pee in the Pool”. Don’t let these suits fool you. The street is where it’s at. And that goes for even the most luxurious and demanding art forms such as — mosaic art.
Mosaic art is deemed complicated and costly for a reason, but that hasn’t stopped artists such as Chuck Close, Jean Shin, Sarah Sze, and Vik Muniz to embellish the four stations of New York’s Second Avenue Subway. This grandiose project is probably one of the most well-known “legal” examples of mosaic street art. However, this particular project is quite extravagant and it could be considered more of public mosaic artwork. Street art as such tends to have more subversive characteristics making it the underdog of the art world.
Street art can be loosely divided into three categories: decorative, activistic, and covering (or repairing) street art. Mosaic art has its esteemed artists doing their very best in all three and we will mention the most prominent ones.
One of the most well-known street mosaicists is the artist known as Invader. He has been active as a mosaic street artist since the 1990s. He took on the name Invader because he was heavily influenced by Space Invaders, the famous arcade video game that was popular during the 80s. Invader’s style of mosaic making is known as pixelated art. He creates pixelated images with ceramic tiles giving them a computerized, almost virtual look. Invader is a prime example of decorative street art.
Carrie Reichardt is probably the most well-known mosaicist in the world of activism. She is the founder of a Craftivism movement, best known for her large-scale public mosaic masterpieces. Unlike Invader, Reichardt’s mosaic work is inspired by traditional British pottery, with vintage, religious, and kitsch elements. Her mosaic art is usually bursting with her rebellious spirit. From mocking the editions of royal porcelain pieces to loudly criticizing current political issues, Reichardt’s mosaic artworks are truly the symbols of present-day activism.
The glowing example of the third category in which mosaic covers or repairs something ugly or damaged is most definitely Jim Bachor. He is creating his mosaic artworks and repairing city potholes all in one. His pop-culture-inspired mosaics such as twinkies, Starbucks coffee, ice-creams, and Burberry plaid are covering some notoriously ugly Chicago city potholes. Whether Bachor wants to celebrate and immortalize these popular symbols of consumerism, or to let us trample all over them as they represent the modern form of enslavement, remains a mystery.
I chose to chat about this particular topic, as I was astounded by the recent events concerning the Dublin city council taking Subset collective to court. Their artworks aren’t mosaics, but they are incredible nevertheless and they are beloved by Dubliners. I wanted to capture some of our fav street mosaics before someone decides to take their creators to court. #sarcasm #fighttheestablishment