Top 5 Street artists, Urban artists and Political artists who save us from our own incomprehension.
Number 1: Banksy
Would you have known about the French use of teargass in Calais refugee camp if it wasn’t for this piece of art by Banksy? The artwork is featuring young girl from Les Misérables with tears in her eyes as smoke of CS gas waves towards her. Learn more about the work of Banksy here.
Number 2: Penny Byrne
Penny Byrne is an Australian political artist who’s sculptural work is political charged and incredibly moving at the same time. The work ‘Felled’ depict a defeated riot policeman. How many people see police as human. How many of us have compassion towards the police? Penny Byrne humanized the police authority and have brought many people to tears with her sculpture ‘Felled’. This piece is inspired by ‘The Fallen Guild’ and a picture she saw in the newspaper of a riot police on the ground after being hit in the head by a brick, like a contemporary ‘Fallen Guild’. Learn more about Penny Byrne here.
Number 3: Cai Guo-Qiang
Cai Guo-Qiang is a Chinese contemporary artist residing in New York. Cai Guo-Qiang’s art is inspired by Politics, Mythology, Maoist philosophy, Buddhism, Feng Shui and Chinese Medicine. Cai Guo-Qiang is also famous for his gun powder drawings with explosive and unpredictable effects. Learn more about Cai Guo-Qiang here.
“Using gunpowder as a medium brings me closer to nature, and even the universe. Of course at the moment of ignition, the explosion is instantaneous, but gunpowder has its origins in minerals that took hundreds, thousands or millions of years to form…They relate to the energy in nature, my ancestors, and an entire galaxy with tens of thousands of stories. At this moment of destruction, you create something miraculously beautiful.”
Number 4: Ana Mendieta
Ana Mendieta was a deeply spiritual and rebellious artist who showcased work often in response to violence against women. Her work was as dark as her untimely death, they often themed violence, life, death and rituals. Her mysterious death in 1985 when she fell 34 floors from her New York apartment been described as ‘symbol of fate of so much feminist work and feminist women’. Learn more about Ana Mendieta here.
Number 5: Michael Cook (and my personal favourite).
Michael Cook is a remarkable Brisbane based artist. He is from the Bidjara heritage. His work comments on racial discrimination by showing social structures in reverse. In the series of photographs named ‘Civilised’ he asks the questions of how different it could be then and now if the British had realised Aboriginal people are indeed Civilized. Learn more about Michael Cook here.