After a friend introduced me to the satirical stenciling of Banksy, the mysterious London-based graffiti artist, I developed a minor interest in street art around the world. As most people know, without permission to alter a certain space, a street artist’s oeuvre is illegal and will probably live a brief existence. Art Web sites and blogs, such as Unurth, do an amazing job of preventing this transience. It’s preservation that has exalted Bansky above a lot of traditional painters and illustrators.
Basic formula: sardonic, urban, evasive Bansky > boring dude who sells work in gallery.
But for most painters of abandoned walls and stencilers of blank canvasses, their work is reduced to a mere indication that vandalism is present. A patiently executed masterpiece – one that may act as an inspirational leaven to the occupants of a barren landscape, illustrating their societal malaise – will have no chance of surviving simply because it was painted on the side of an abandoned building. Meanwhile, an obscure Jackson Pollock rests on the wall of museum or a gallery, comforted by the knowledge that it will be restored, maintained, and seen by people pretending to care about its giant cluster of colored scribbles.
Art majors and enthusiasts, I’m sorry. I know nothing about art; I’m sure Jackson Pollock was a great guy. In fact, I think his work is quite cool. Just making a point…the number of people who appreciate street art seem to have proliferated, but I still think that a lot of the genre’s diversity is unrecognized.
TL;DR —> Banksy is not the coolest street artist on the planet. There, my God, I can’t say anything succinctly. I’m certainly not the first to point out that his work is a tad bit predictable, but it seems selfish to start posing expectations and standards on the guy just because his stuff sells for thousands and thousands of dollars. Instead I’d like to focus on an individual artist that just blows my mind.
Phlegm has less of an international presence than Banksy and although fairly popular, is considerably less mainstream (most of his pieces appear in Sheffield, UK). The first thing I noticed was how oddly fascinating his illustrations are and how their mechanical structures strike a resemblance to Howl’s Moving Castle, which happens to be one of my favorite visuals :)
There are no anti-establishment undertones in Phlegm’s work – no trace of controversy that you see in a lot of Banksy’s art. There isn’t a message for people to grab onto and agree with; you either like the eccentricity of Phlegm’s art for what it is, or you don’t.
And I certainly, certainly do.