The Widewalls Collection
is a private collection of contemporary urban art. It encompasses over 200 artworks by the world’s leading street artists. The art media is diverse, ranging from lithographs, prints, murals and canvas to sculptures, ceramics and objects. We don’t want to keep these works of contemporary art to ourselves, but share them with the public. Our goal is to present the largest urban art collection online. To fulfill our aspiration we are currently watching more than 300 artists to include in The Widewalls Collection. Part of being a publicly shared collection is being accessible.
Hera was born in 1981 in Frankfurt. She lives in Frankfurt and works in Schmalkalden. Akut was born in 1981 in Schmalkalden. He lives and works in Schmalkalden. Herakut is a symbiosis of the aliases Hera and Akut, two graffiti artists from Frankfurt and Erfurt, Germany. Herakut is an artist with four hands: those of Akut the graffiti artist, and those of Hera the painter. Their collaboration started when they first met in 2004. Both were invited to paint at the Urban Art Festival Sevilla in Spain and before that time had only seen each other’s work in graffiti magazines. To everyone and themselves it was clear that despite the fact they both focused on character painting their styles had nothing in common whatsoever. And that has not changed a bit. Since 2004, Herakut has been combining Akut’s photorealist spray paint with Hera’s more traditional techniques such as charcoal and acrylic. Hera is a classically trained painter who “creates gestural, emotional figures in a freestyle manner using numerous tools including spray cans, brushes, and her hands.” Akut is completely self-taught yet is skilled in creating hyper-realistic images of animals and flesh using only a spray can. “What initially seemed like an unlikely pairing both conceptually and technically has since become one of the foremost collaborations in urban art and an innovative presence in contemporary painting.” Both artists express themselves on different bases: canvas, wood or paper. Their profoundly contrasting methods give birth to stylized works which decorate the streets with their strange uniqueness. On a background often made by Hera, Akut begins to lay strokes and creates a face without knowing what body Hera is will extend it with, and so on. Their approaches combine with, and complete each other, as each artist improvises on top of the other’s idea in order to come up with an end product that gives off an almost schizophrenic vibe. There begins to emerge dreamlike paintings and narratives overflowing with black humor. Man seems to oscillate between his mythological lineage, his animal urges and a body which confines him within the limits of his wounds. On each exhibition, Herakut present works of art each more audacious than the last, where Akut’s work collides with Hera’s abrasive and sexualised world. The differences in Hera’s and Akut’s ways of approaching art and the painting itself are vast. Akut started doing graffiti at the age of fourteen with no artistic background. The photorealism he spray paints today is self-taught and needs a bundle of preparations consisting of a concept that has been mapped out on the computer, high resolution photo-material and a predefined assortment of aerosol paints. If this is all set, Akut patiently assembles his characters dot by dot with one eye on the concept, the other on the wall, while blending out everything else. Hera in contrast thinks that preparing a piece is to handcuff yourself. It ties your perception to the sketch and allows no space for the influence of the surrounding atmosphere or any immediate response to the wall as a very individual medium to paint on. Different from Akut who had experienced graffiti closely connected to the hip-hop culture, Hera just felt the urge to work big-dimensioned when she originally started to paint on walls in 2001. Therefore none of the unwritten rules and restrictions of the established graffiti scene had an impact on her work although another mental boundary did. As reaction to years of strict education of artistic techniques which Hera had received as a child, she today demands as much freedom as possible for intuition and spontaneity in a painting.
A commission for a private client in the harbor district of Ibiza. Widewalls called on Hera and Akut. Herakut is an artist duo with four hands: those of Akut the photo-realistic graffiti artist, and those of Hera, the talented women with a classical art education background. The antagonism of Herakut is responsible for their unbelievable and unique style of painting. Akut took over the first step of the design process. He developed the concept on the computer and mapped out the different stages of the mural. Akut used photographs as reference. When he was working he always had one eye on his work and the other on the picture in his hand. Once Akut is done mapping a part of the painting, Hera takes over. When she starts painting, with an incredible speed by the way, the mapping begins to take shape. She adds shadows, fine lines, details and depth that breathes life into the artwork. The result? Check it out. Pictures say more than thousand words.
Nick Walker is one of the world’s best known street artists. Born in 1969, he emerged from the infamous and ground-breaking Bristol graffiti scene of the early 1980s. As a forerunner of the British graffiti phenomenon, Nick’s work has become a blueprint for hundreds of emerging artists. His work is constantly evolving and remains innovative, modern and thought-provoking. Walker’s work has been a major influence on the work of Banksy. Nick Walker’s signature street artwork is the Vandal. The Vandal is Nick Walker’s street art alter-ego that has found his place on walls all over the world. Walker’s work has been exhibited at galleries such as the Black Rat Projects in London, the Kantor Gallery in Los Angeles, and the 95 Gallery in Berlin, among others.
Nick draws on the energy and imagery of graffiti but he succeeds in combining the freedom the spray can brings, with very controlled and intricate stenciling. The results are highly sophisticated and infinitely desirable. The methods he uses retain their forcefulness and integrity on the traditional medium of canvas. Nick Walker’s instantly recognizable style and humor have gained him a worldwide following. Nick Walker had sellout shows in LA and London, where collectors queued for over 24 hours to be among the first to get his latest print edition. In 2008, his iconic Moona Lisa sold over ten times its estimated value at auction at Bonhams.
Many of Walker’s works feature political messages, such as his
Coran Can (2010), a mural on the streets of Paris that depicts a line of women dancing the can-can and wearing Burqa; Walker was referring to President Sarkozy’s plan to ban the Burqa in France. Walker’s work in the movie industry includes painting sets for the science fiction film
Judge Dredd (1995) and Stanley Kubrick’s
Eyes Wide Shut (1999). In 2011, the Cooper Square Hotel in New York invited Walker to paint a mural inside its restaurant, The Trilby. In early 2014 Nick Walkers partakes in a charity mural in New York with a variety of other artists. Shortly after he traveled to Tokyo to complete yet another massive mural, Vandal style.
A leading artist to emerge from Bristol’s infamous graffiti scene, Sickboy’s humorous work has cemented his place in the upper echelons of the British street art movement. He is one of the first UK artists to use a logo in place of a tag, and his red and yellow street logo known as ‘The Temple’ can be seen on walls and wheelie bins worldwide. Sickboy has built up one of the largest bodies of street art works in UK history. His work hit the big screen recently in Banksy’s Oscar-nominated film,
Exit Through the Gift Shop, and he is tipped by the leading financial press as one of the movement’s most bankable artists. His temples, slogans and audacious stunts – including the caged heart installation dropped outside the Tate Modern in 2008 – have landed him global recognition.
There is no one else quite like Futura. He helped define the street art movement, but he is not a stereotype. He’s an established and internationally renowned artist, photographer, sculptor and graphic designer, but his first medium was the urban fabric of downtown New York City. He defined the graffiti movement of the early ‘70s, painting an entire subway car without lettering, his work instead defined by an abstract, expressive aesthetic. There is no one else quite like Futura, and according to the man himself, Futura isn’t even real. Futura born in New York 1955 is the pseudonym of Lenny McGurr, a graffiti legend that is best known for his Abstract approach to street art. The New York-based artist became a graffiti writer at 15. After reading Alvin Toffler’s seminal work Future Shock, Lenny settled on the superhero pseudonym Futura 2000 (dropping the 2000 after the new millennium passed). He began painting on the subway system as a teenager in the early 1970s. Futura helped to define the New York’s street art scene, went on to tour with the Clash, then found himself exhibiting alongside prominent New York artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring at Fun Gallery. In 1981 Futura toured with band ‘The Clash’, during this time he began creating graffiti works ‘legally’ as a live on-stage painter for the group. He painted the backdrops for The Clash’s European tour and designed the sleeve for their This Is Radio Clash single, and in 1982, handwrote the sleeve notes and lyrics sheet for their Combat Rock album. He continued to tour with the band and spray paint backdrops during the performances. During the 1980s, graffiti art predominantly focused on lettering, Futura’s work was less literal. The abstract style of street art pioneered by Futura has been highly influential and has become increasingly popular as a result Futura has also worked in conjunction with British DJ James Lavelle in order to create imagery that has largely defined the DJs increasingly successful ‘UNKLE’ project. Futura also works and designs for his Japan based clothing label ‘Futura Laboratories’. He has exhibited at venues the world over including ICA (London, UK), Solaria (Fukaoka, JP), TBM Experiment (Rome, IT), and Gallery du Jour (Paris, FR), among various others. More recently, Futura has transitioned into working as a graphic and commercial artist. He has worked with companies such as Nike, Recon, and Medicom Toy, and designs clothing for his label Futura Laboratories. His work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1 in New York, the Grotinger Museum in the Netherlands, and the Gallery Du Jour in Paris and a variety of other museums and galleries around the world.
BEST | EVER
Salute from the coastal resort town of Bournemouth in Dorset, England Neil and Hadley make up the artistic duo better known as ‘Best Ever’. Both have graffiti backgrounds to flatter their skills in photorealism.
Best Ever have been painting for about 15 years now and Neil started in the 54 crew, doing straight up, commercial photorealism pieces. Neil then bumped into Hadley in Bournemouth who mentioned that they should try working together. It turned out that they actually had very similar ideas.
Best Ever working when working together, Hadley would normally start by throwing some paint at the wall and begin to make lines and angles in a very loose style. From there on, they never know who is going to work on what part.
It really varies from piece to piece, in terms of who does the photorealism part, who does the loose sketch part. Some canvases have more input by Hadley and other parts have more input from Neil.
A lot of times it will start from a really loose idea and then Hadley might lay down some ideas in his sketch book and then they add more and more realism elements. Best Ever work always evolves and you can never tell from the initial sketch what the final outcome will be.
Best Ever’s work have a lot of parallels with Herakut. They there have been a lot of negative statements, saying that Best Ever are biting their style.
Best Ever’s work is anatomical and surgical way of looking at human figures. It’s mainly about death and disease. They like painting the things that you don’t see in a human; different angles, bones, blood and cells; even working out calculations that occur by just keeping a body alive.
Born and raised in London, The Dotmasters is the offspring of C6.org, a new-media based collective of art-pranksters. Active throughout the 1990’s, they bridged the gap between art and activism with attention snatching events that pulled no punches. Hitting the headlines worldwide in 1997 with Man in a box”they incarcerated and starved one of their members in a surveillance cube in a gallery in Brighton. Their work was eclectic, merging graffiti, new media and performance from the street, night clubs and galleries generating a steady stream of irreverent broadcasts.
Founding member Leon Seesix, bored of the new-media world and the group dynamic started working under the alias ‘The Dotmasters’ , sideways look at a populist medium says the East London based artist. The Dotmasters possesses a typically English sense of humor, throwing two fingers up at the passer-by with his impeccably detailed stencil work.
As at home in the ghetto as he is in paradise, The Dotmasters work can be found anywhere from a pikey trailer park to the penthouses of Europe and have featured in both Banksy’s Cans Festival in Waterloo and his Oscar nominated feature film ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’.
A frequent collaborator with the Mutoid Waste Company, The Dotmasters love of the sinister has morphed the dark heart of the fair into a twisted set of sideshows, dubbed ‘The Unfairground’. The sideshows can be seen at festivals as far flung as Glastonbury and, Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. High striking Test Your Strength machines stand side by side of rigged knock-‘em-downs (‘The Crack Heads’) and unlikely ball-games of skill such as ‘The Gobbler’.
Schoony’s background is rooted in special effects and prosthetics for the film industry with his career spanning over twenty years.
Since the age of fifteen Schoony has worked on over a hundred films mostly based in the UK however his work and reputation for high class pioneering techniques has reached far corners of the world; Thailand on Rambo, Morocco on Black Hawk Down and even as far as Australia and New Zealand working on Where The Wild Things Are and The Weta Workshop.
Schoony took the plunge into a new career as an artist to share his passion for life cast sculpture. Schoony took the london art scene by storm in 2008 at mutate Britain’s one foot in the grove on portobello road with his life cast sculptures ‘boy soldiers’.
Since then, his new found career has gone from strength to strength. Schoony’s Boy Soldier had a staring roll in the film KICKASS 2. His art has universal meaning for all walks of life. Schoony is one of few artists that use the discipline of life casting as an art form.
Conor Harrington ‘s blend of the historical and street art is unsurpassed. The Irish former graffiti artist still paints outdoor murals worldwide to considerable acclaim, while enjoying a meteoric rise in his gallery career. His lauded large-scale urban art paintings fuse realist figurative work inspired by old masters with abstractions taken from the graffiti scene that nurtured his talents. He is a central figure within a new breed of young street artists tackling socio-political themes using fine art techniques in a context formerly reserved for street artists. Conor Harrington’s work combines contemporary and classical references to create an astonishingly resonant dialogue with the viewer. Harrington’s earliest works used cutting-edge graffiti techniques to create intense multi-layered artworks that alluded to the work of abstract expressionist artists. In this way, Conor compared the radical street art movement to the revolutionary anti-figurative art of the early and mid-20th century. From the mid-nineties, he began including male figurative aspects in his urban art compositions. In pieces such as, The Rum and Raisin of Irish Society, young contemporary metropolitan men evoked the conflicts within modern masculine identity. In others, male aspirational icons – like Formula One drivers – probed the urban art and music world’s tendency towards machismo in the light of this gender role crisis. 2008′s Weekend Warriors exhibition marked Conor Harrington’s first use of costumes and other historical signifiers to examine current affairs. However rather than simply paint figures from bygone times the street artist chose to use specific contemporary models, in this case military re-enactment enthusiasts. Paintings such as, A Saint with the Powers of Superman, threw a spotlight on modern man’s continuing fascination with personal combat in an era when war is beginning to be waged by remote control. 2010′s Holy Smoke Quintet exhibited at Lazarides’ 2010 Hell’s Half Acre exhibition, concerned the European powers’ historical encounters with the Middle East such as the Siege of Malta in 1565. Conor Harrington not only drew attention to the gulf between the placid everyday lives of western citizens and the gung-ho use of the hi-tech war machine at their disposal, but also to the disappointingly cyclical nature of the conflict itself. 2012′s startling street art exhibition Dead Meat showed glamour girls and alternative male fashion models in an imaginary sybaritic feast at the twilight of Western global hegemony. Conor Harrington used the Regency-era costumes and accoutrements of the early 1800s as visual cues. He thus evoked that epoch’s shift in influence from traditional monarchies to republics, such as that of post-revolutionary France or the fledgling United States of America. Combining sombre commentary with thrilling artwork, Dead Meat marked Conor’s arrival as a significant contemporary artist. The boutique exhibition A Whole Lot of trouble for a Little Bit of Win profiled Conor’s notable study paintings. Conor Harrington dubs these “Morning Glories”, as he tackles them first thing upon arriving to work at his studio, to stimulate his creative process. In recent major works such as 2013′s L’ Amour et La Violence and Watch Your Palace Fall the artist has replaced his usual graffito flourishes with luxuriant black backdrops. Conor Harrington currently works from his studio in East London.
Max (Ripo) Rippon was born and raised in NYC and currently resides in Barcelona, Spain. He began drawing
from a very young age and with time his inspirations grew from comic books to skateboarding and graffiti
as well as an art education and studying of art history. After graduating with a BFA from Washington
University in St. Louis he left the United States for Barcelona, Spain where he has since been based.
His work has become primarily text-based, exploring and communicating through typography, calligraphy
and other hand-painted elements. His rhetoric often proposes questions rather than answers, always
with a sense of sarcasm and humor crawling below the surface.
He has had solo exhibitions in San Francisco, Barcelona, Brussels, and Vienna and exhibited in various
international group shows including the 11 Spring St. Show in New York City, called one of the best art
shows of 2006 by the NY Times. He has also painted murals legally and illegally in cities, remote villages,
and abandoned structures across 36 countries in three continents.
Vhils came into the world as Alexandre Farto in suburban Lisbon on February 15, 1987. The Portugal of his youth was in the midst of evolution following the 1974 revolution that ended fascist dictatorship. Stencils and murals ranging from the political to the commercial filled the streets of Vhils’ boyhood Lisbon.
The portfolio of Portuguese artist Vhils is unique among the world’s street community. He has torn, drilled and blasted his way around the globe to create uncommon and striking portraits of the common citizen. From humble tagging to obsessive train-bombing, the pursuit of graffiti and street art led Vhils to discover the unlikely pursuit of destruction as creation”call it graphic sculpture. The combination of artwork as social commentary and promised materialism made its impact on Vhils. He began writing graffiti in the 1990s at the age of 10. Tagging became a way to fill time, something to do on the way to school, a byproduct of friendship. When he reached 13, he became obsessed with train-bombing Lisbon’s suburban line. He wound up skipping a lot of school in that pursuit, joined the 2S/3D and LEG crews, and increased his “street reach.” Vhils expanded to lines outside of Lisbon, beyond Portugal, and finally across all of Europe.
He took up stencils in 2003 or 2004, also discovering stickers and paste-ups. Stencils proved a breakthrough for Vhils, allowing him to split his activities between conceptual work at home and physical technique in the street. Vhils went through multiple tags before settling on “Vhils” (pronounced veels). The name has no meaning, but simply uses letters that are his favorite”and the quickest”to write. Once he began exhibiting his work, he chose to maintain the tag next to his real name. His artwork first gained attention in Lisbon for its uncommon technique”cutting through multiple layers of advertising posters in order to form a new image. Vhils’ breakthrough claim to fame occurred in 2008 when he produced a portrait next to a work by Banksy at the Cans Festival in London. A photographer for The Times captured a shot of Vhils creating the portrait, and the newspaper featured the photo on its front page.
Vhils’ technique and tools evolve as a work in progress. The very nature of his approach allows for discovering the unexpected as he removes layers of a wall or a poster. He insists that not knowing what patterns and images await him below the surface is key to his concept. Vhils originally sought subject matter in magazines and newspapers. More recently, he has been working from photographs taken by himself or his team, usually within the neighborhoods where they’re working. The use of John and Jane Doe is Vhils’ response to the picture-perfect models presented by advertising, a way to humanize a cityscape by giving it a face of the ordinary. A typical Vhils rendering originates in a sketchbook before he digitizes it on a computer. He breaks most of his portraits into three colors to provide depth, very much like stencil work. Sometimes the images are projected on the wall, sometimes painted first as a rough sketch. Vhils then begins the carving process employing chisels, hammers and drills, and the application of etching acid and bleach.
The bottom line for Vhils is the method: an act of destruction as a creative force. His artistic philosophy follows the conversation begun by expressionists and abstract artists, where the technique and its result become inseparable. He attempts to create by removing; it is a conscious construction by way of destruction, whether shredding through billboard posters or drilling into a wall. “People call it vandalism,” according to Vhils. “And I like the word and the concept of how people see it, and how simple it is to turn it into something people will call art or beautiful or whatever. I like to play with that, too, in the way you can reverse what people were expecting to see.” The effect of advertising posters plastered one on top of another parallels his view of the experiences in one’s life, how a history of layered influences creates a social and cultural outlook. He relishes the idea of exposing the older layers to create a context between the historical and the contemporary.
Vhils has refused to show his face, claiming, “It’s a way of keeping the focus where it belongs, on the artwork.” He adds, “You still need to be true to your ideals and what you are doing and not lose the point.” Vhils always returns to the means of his art when explaining his work. He can no more stray from his method than Van Gogh or Pollock: “The message of my work”it’s in the process, it’s in the active drawing on a wall”expose and break it to create something. It’s almost like destroying to create, or using decay to create something people will look at in a different way.”
Carrie Reichardt is a leading contemporary artist, who works from a mosaic-covered studio in London, The Treatment Rooms. A figurehead for the Craftivism movement, Carrie uses murals, ceramics, screen-printing and graphic design in her work and is called upon to speak on the use of craft and art as protest – most recently for the British Association of Modern Mosaic’s annual symposium at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2012. This year she will be the keynote speaker at the Mosaic Association of Australia and New Zealand International symposium.
Inspired by William Morris and the long-standing tradition of subversive ceramics in the UK, Carrie Reichardt has created ‘Mad in England’. A series of affordable, subversive souvenirs that celebrate the protestor and tap into a national mood of dissent that reaches from Occupy the City to UK Uncut.
Carrie trained at Kingston University and achieved a First class degree in Fine Art from Leeds Metropolitan. She was Artist in Residence at Camberwell Art College in 2009. Following a period as Artist in Residence at The Single Homeless Project, she remains a proactive supporter, donating a percentage of the profits from some of her ‘Mad in England’ series to the charity. Her work has appeared in leading galleries around the world and she represented the UK as part of a group of international artists invited to mosaic the Argentinian Government building in Buenos Aires.
Carrie has been awarded the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship for 2013 and will be funded to travel and study in Chile and Mexico with the aim of ‘Advancing the craft of community mosaics in the UK” on her return.
Carrie’s recent work includes:
The Tiki Love Truck – commissioned by ‘Walk the Plank’, specialists in outdoor performance, this mosaic-covered pick-up truck, was dedicated to the memory of a death-row inmate. Winning first prize at the inaugural parade in Manchester, the truck has since participated in the Illuminated Parade in Blackpool and the Glowmobile Parade in GatesheadTrojan Horse –a life-sized resin horse, with a skull for a face and coated in a mosaic of hard hitting facts about the abuse of horses, made in collaboration with sculptor, Nick Reynolds. An audacious protest against equestrian cruelty, displayed at the Cheltenham Festival Races, an event symbolic of the British establishment and an international epicentre of horse racing. The project was featured in The GuardianThe London Elephant Parade 2010 – Carrie’s mosaic elephant, ‘Phoolan’, was part of the largest ever public art event – taking pride of place outside London’s Natural History MuseumThe Milan Elephant Parade – Carrie and Nick Reynolds’ elephant was inspired by the revolutionary spirit spreading across the world and conveyed the message that ending capitalism is the only true way to save the elephant and the planet. The elephant was displayed outside the Triennale de Milan Museum of Art.Mary Bamber – Carrie’s life-sized ceramic-adorned figure of the revolutionary socialist, Mary Bamber, is now on permanent display at the Museum of Liverpool.
Carrie has recently become a committee member of Acton Arts Forum and is working with them to help established the new community run W3 Gallery on Acton High street and on various local projects to incorporate art into the local area.
Carrie Reichardt’s work has featured in the press including, The Observer, The Guardian, The Evening Standard, Tile and Stone and in several books including; ‘1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse,’ Garth Johnson, ‘Mural Art No 2’, Kirikos Iosifidis and ‘The Idler 42 – Smash the System’ – Tom Hodgkinson.
WORD TO MOTHER
London-based artist Word To Mother was born and raised in an English seaside town. After attending art school for illustration, and with a background in graffiti, Word To Mother entered into the art world.
Word To Mother creates work that combines many influences into uniquely layered paintings, often atop pieces of salvaged wood. Incorporating hand drawn personal sentiments, emotions and feelings that he executes in the form of loose script, inspired from his experience as a tattoo artist and tight sign written letters, drawn from years of painting graffiti.
Suggestions of nostalgic sign writing and unmistakable Word To Mother figures feature within a salvaged environment where they appear to have existed for years. A beautiful juxtaposition, of fragile and emotive elements shown through subtle textures and washes of colour, but with a strength and confidence fused with his signature patterns, architecture & figures. His work is melancholic yet fun and playful. With an earthy ‘London’ palette of grey tones accentuating splashes of brighter ‘seaside’ colours of fluro-red, pink, yellows and turquoise that give the paintings an optimistic feel.