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TODAY'S BIG ISSUE: Do these 'paint daubings' possess any artistic merit?
10:00am Thursday 28th June 2012 in Columns
Peter Thompson, of Oxford Civic Society Not if it is of the kind which we see every day around the city, in the buses and on the trains.
Of course, anyone can drop the name of Banksy as living proof that graffiti is art, but how many Banksys are there among the tens of thousands who just mess up the place?
And it is Banksy’s success which makes these hooligans really pathetic – it proves how they could be brightening up our cities, and enhancing their own lives, when, instead, they disfigure both with their pointless stupidity.
To suggest that this might constitute ‘art’ is, of course, ridiculous; it lacks the first ingredient of art – imagination, as well as any kind of technical competence.
The truth is that art is art, and graffiti is something else; in fact graffiti is technically defined as: “writing on walls in public places”.
Now one might conceive of some circumstance, somewhere, where this could conceivably be artistic, but, let’s face it, the common or-garden ‘tagging’ we have to put up with, and clean off, is just rubbish, devoid of any vestige of imaginative flair or artistic appreciation.
Send them down, for a long spell at art school, I say.
Helen Le Brocq, of Oxfordshire Youth Arts Partnership There can be fewer more polarising questions than this, but graffiti, or urban art, is one of the major artistic movements that have emerged recently.
Yes, some of it has outstanding artistic merit; there are some giants bestriding whole cityscapes with their incredible vibrant transformative imaginations.
They are unlikely to be in the Louvre in 200 years’ time mind you, but will be remembered digitally. This is art that can challenge, amuse and transform a place, lifting it out of the mundane.
The best will make you stop and look at a place you would otherwise walk by without noticing.
The problem is to be a great graffiti artist, to join the ranks of those you admire, where do you start?
Lack of legal space means we often see quickly executed and often unfinished works, or tagging. This adds to a sense of urban visual noise we would rather block out than appreciate.
With permission comes time to produce work of quality, something amazing and yes, beautiful.
OYAP will work with young graffiti artists to redesign a whole wall this summer at the Courtyard in Bicester. Who knows, we may discover the next great urban talent.
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