The street art aesthetic that lit up the subways and brick walls of cities like New York, Paris and London in the 1980s and 1990s reframed graffiti as fine art. As artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Blek le Rat and Richard Hambleton claimed the streets as their canvas, the world stopped to watch. Now, in an urban landscape forever changed by COVID-19, it is set to take over once more.
Leading the pack is Dan Lane, whose graffiti-inspired collection, In The Empty Spaces, translates elements of this controversial subculture for a provocative release of two hand-signed limited edition prints. The London-based artist, who once created art under his own moniker of Mechanica, has defaced his signature skull with motifs from street art genres, including the interlocking letters and symbols of Wildstyle and the harmony of Abstract.
Chosen to represent vibrancy and life, the colours are bold and unapologetic, as striking on the canvas as they would be if sprayed from a can onto a desolate city wall. Dan has manipulated the boundaries of 2D and 3D, using light and shadows to lift the graphic out of the darkness and into the external space.
Dan's new artworks were influenced by the street art he saw on his daily walks through the city with his wife. But he isn't the only artist to have been inspired during the COVID-19 crisis. From Vancouver to Amsterdam, graffiti murals have been a channel of expression and a way to unite communities.
Artists are also finding new ways to share their art with others. In 2019, the Parisian street artist Pascal Boyart became the first person to incorporate NFTs (non-fungible tokens) within his work. By minting an NFT version of his mural - whereby it was stored on a digital ledger called a blockchain - Pascal was able to split his mural into 100 pieces and sell each one individually. As a result, when the French authorities painted over his artwork - a wry take on Eugène Delacroix’s masterpiece, 'Liberty Leading the People' - it still existed digitally.
Adding value to crypto-works (art created by adding a unique signature to a digital file), blockchain technology is also aiding the exploration of virtual and augmented reality, allowing artists to incorporate a new digital dimension. Through QR codes (a digital barcode) and geotags (an electronic tag that pinpoints a specific geographic location), viewers can access layers of animation or own an artwork without removing it from the wall.
The astronomical prices fetched by Banksy at auction are indicative of a growing appreciation of the street art genre. A 2017 survey found that 44% of UK homeowners would pay more for a house decorated with Banksy's works, while interior designers are increasingly commissioning street artists to design graffiti tags, murals and bubble letters for a contemporary home décor.
Whether it's used to modernise an office space or brighten up a bathroom, bedroom or kitchen, graffiti art is about self-expression. It can be teamed with city elements like brick walls and exposed metal to echo its origins, or a neutral wall to create a statement. Fans of a maximalist look can also mix graffiti art with other genres and textures for impact.
Each month, our Your World, Our Art® competition gives our collectors the chance to share a photograph of our art in their home for the chance to win £100 off their next artwork.
We love hearing your style tips and seeing how you've paired your artwork with your furniture and home accessories, so we thought we'd ask Dan why his art should be top of your wishlist.
Dan told us: "I've always wanted to create art that makes a real statement in someone's home. A home could be quite plain, but adding one of my originals will give a room a really impressive focal point.
"The colours and layers in my new graffiti works add to the mission to create work that makes an instant impact: you can't walk past my work and not take notice."
"I've always wanted to create art that makes a real statement in someone's home. You can't walk past my work and not take notice."
19/03/2021Symbolising that mankind and nature can live in harmony, Dan's striking stainless steel hand sculpture fuses engineering and fine art. Find out more in our exclusive video for our 5 Questions With series.
14/08/2019After first dazzling collectors with giclée on glass releases in 2018, Dan Lane returned to 2D in 2019 with two new limited edition prints from his Coalesce collection.
16/05/2019When he embarked on his artistic career in 2014, the sculptor masked his identity with the moniker 'Mechanica'. He revealed why he's finally ready to put his own name to his art.
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