Artists Making The City Their Canvas

In this series we’re exploring fearlessly authentic art, the kind that can’t and won’t be contained by a frame or canvas.

From bold performances to intricate installations, conceptual video works to large-scale public pieces – in this series we’re celebrating unconventional artists who’re pushing the boundaries of their medium to create art that is uncompromising in its originality.

For this instalment of Fearlessly Authentic Art we take to the streets to pay homage to the artists who make the city their canvas and invite everyone to view and enjoy their work. Whilst graffiti as an urban art expression has historically been shrouded with a veil of perceived (and sometimes actual) vandalism, more recently this has given way to wide-spread acceptance of the form and incorporation into urban spaces. Street art around the world can be recognised as a tool that developers use to activate urban areas. Artists are now commissioned by cities, brands and private businesses to create works and murals in public spaces.

The following list of street artists stand out from the rest, through their style, choice of materials, or the meaning conveyed in their work. These are the fearlessly authentic names in street art to look out for in cities across South Africa.

The Jack Fox

With parents like famous street artist Faith47 and legendary tattoo artist Tyler B Murphy, it’s no wonder that young Jack Fox’s work has been widely regarded both locally and abroad. Inspired by indie music, his illustrative style of murals reference folk art and have a quirky narrative quality about them. Quite unlike much other graffiti and street art, Jack Fox’s work is whimsical and playful rather than gritty and edgy. The monochrome anamorphic characters that populate his work are like illustrations from an a delightfully off-kilter children’s book. See his work in and around Cape Town, notably in Woodstock.

More on Instagram @thejackfox.

Outside Deer Hunter in Woodstock

In Zonnebloem, Cape Town

In New York

In Haiti | All images courtesy of the artist

Mook Lion

With a distinctly South African style and strong Durban flavour, Mook Lion’s work is bright, colourful and often conveys a positive social or environmental message. Elephants, baboons and other animals are common motifs in Mook Lion’s work, as well as the lush verdure that is so characteristic of tropical Durban. Trained in fine art, Mook Lion incorporates elements of linocut marks and other printmaking techniques into his work, which gives his murals their characteristic ‘texture’. See his work in and around Durban, notably in the Station Drive precinct.

More on Facebook.

Collaboration with 4Givn | Image courtesy of the artist

At the Addington Children’s Hospital | Image courtesy of the artist

In Station Drive | Image courtesy of Durban Street Art

At the Beerhall in Rivertown | Image courtesy of Durban Street Art

Danielle Clough

Photographer, designer, VJer and crafter, Danielle Cough is always pushing her own creative envelope and adding new slashes to her list of creative outputs. Her keen interest in street culture provided the impetus for a natural foray into “embroidery bombing” in public places. Danielle has created street embroideries in the UK for Upfest, Europe’s largest street art festival, as well as the first United Nations World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. See her work in Cape Town in Woodstock.

More at danielleclough.com and follow @fiance_knowles on Instagram.

Mr Fuzzy Slippers

Based between Johannesburg and Cape Town, artist and illustrator Lisolomzi Pikoli AKA Mr Fuzzy Slippers has made a name for himself with his characteristic style that incorporates distinctly African aesthetics, vibrant colours and a troop of wonderfully stylised characters. His work explores dream states, outer body experiences, and contemporary realities juxtaposed with future imaginings. With intricate line work and patterns, his work is a beautiful blend of illustrative detail and bold colours. See Mr Fuzzy Slippers’ work around New Town and Jeppestown in Johannesburg.

Follow @mr_slipperz on Instagram.

Call and response Keleketla in Joburg | Image by Tseliso Monheng

Mural at the Home Grwn in Maboneng | Image courtesy of the artist

Dreams close to home in Grahamstown | Image by Karabo Mooki

In District Six | Image via South African City Street Art

r1

“I consider the street as an open canvas”, says r1, who creates urban interventions out of collected and repurposed every day found materials. Working closely with the community in which projects are created, r1 considers his role that of mediator ­– between people, objects, sites and experience. Through his work he challenges people to re-look the familiar and question what their city means to them, and others. His most recent project in Johannesburg, the iThemba Tower, employed the collaboration of informal recyclers, school children, members of the public and tech innovators Bushveld Labs light up a 20m high communication tower with repurposed plastic bottles filled with messages of hope. See his art interventions around New Doornfontein and Braamfontein in Johannesburg.

More at r1r1r1.net and on Facebook.

iThemba Tower at Spaza Art Gallery in Troyeville

Hidden Trophy in New Doornfontein | Images courtesy of the artist

Like this? Scroll more: 

6 Performance Artists Questioning The Medium 

5 Artists Using Video To Reflect On The Ineffable

6 Installation Artists Employing Space Evocatively

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