Like many people in the UK I suspect, I’ve only recently been introduced to the art of Benjamin Cohen via a strange new TV show called School of Saatchi. He wasn’t a successful contestant – although the judges did like his work – and Tracey Emin cited Francis Bacon as being an obvious influence in his work. On a more contemporary note, I can see a lot of Antony Micallef, especially in some of the close-up black and white facial paintings (very similar) but there’s some really great art among those on show.
I reviewed last year’s Mural Art book earlier in the year and really loved it. I had mentioned that it had quitly been released without the normal exposure that I’ve come to see from Publikat’s releases over the years. And here we are again; twelve months after the original release comes the quietly released follow-up; Kiriakos Losifidis’s Mural Art Vol 2. The format of the book is exactly the same as the original. So much so that it looks identical; not side by side but just memory comparison. I had to pull the original from the bookcase to see if it was different. Of course, it is different but you certainly know that one very much belongs to the other.
Although Kiriakos Losifidis has had no real reason to change the format of the book (if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it?), Mural Art 2 doesn’t seem to have the same power as the original. It’s not that it isn’t a great book; it just seems to have a little less “edge”… probably due to there seemingly being less graffiti writer murals (although I’ve not actually counted). There’s no apology for it either though and nor should there be one. This is a mural art book after-all and not a graffiti book so I guess this boils down to my personal taste. That being said, there are still many amazing painters that are associated with the graffiti scene who are painting so little graffiti that passing from one page to the other confuses me a little as to what exactly passes for what at the moment (if that even matters). I don’t know. It leads me to think that I should be less focussed on trying to work out the difference and enjoying what I enjoy instead of wasting the effort working out “why?”.
I do understand that the medium is there to tell stories and to serve the communities that surround the works so, ultimately, they don’t hold the same power that they do in real life when compared to being displayed in a book but what art really does? However, it’s hard to not be impressed at the lots of work that Kiriakos has chosen for inclusion on his book. And there is definitely enough of the kind of art that I like. Highlights include seeing Mr Wany in print as well as Roa and someone who I hadn’t heard of before called Bonom (and it has to be said, lots of other non-graff artists). Amazing stuff.
For people that love conventional mural art, well you’ll love this book as much as the original… maybe more. For people into street-art/graffiti, you’ll maybe feel a little more like I do about it; not quite as good as the original but still a fine book. For art lovers in general, there’s little that you won’t enjoy in Mural Art 2; massive art as varied in subject matter as you could wish for. Some of the walls are made to look like something they’re not, some are camouflaged and some are simply decorated with beautiful colours (Highraff, for instance). All of the walls are transformed. As usual, Eko has beeten me to it with his preview of the book so take a look at a few more of the pages there. Mural Art 2 weighs in at 272 pages and is a hardcover edition. You can get it direct from Publikat or from all the usual places including Amazon UK.
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One of the artists that I get frustrated about more than any other is Conor Harrington. I prefer his old work but am still forced to study his newer work because I love the style so much but not the subject matter. Here’s a video interview with him where you get to see him actually paint this unique style and mow I think it’s more awesome than ever before!