Falko Tags the Gallery
The parking lot at the Iziko South African National Gallery Annexe off Hatfield Street has been revitalised with a striking piece of artwork – courtesy of local street artist, Falko. Signifying renewal and growth, his impression of a locust – also a symbol of human potential – now adorns the wall. This is the first of many “canvasses” around the Gallery that the artist has his sights on. We interviewed Falko to hear what he has to say about the street art scene in Cape Town, and the role of traditional art and art galleries in the 21st century.
A far cry from the vandalism and lawlessness usually associated with this ‘subversive’ culture of urban graffiti, Falko, who regards street art as, “the biggest art movement in the world, ever”, dispelled some of the myths that cloud this art form. Street artists, the preferred term for the creators of this genre, are highly paid, acknowledged artists who are respected around the world. In Cape Town, black artists are in the minority, and while men dominate the scene, a few female artists have started drawing attention. He says that in South Africa, there are a few established and recognised street artists, but he encourages all artists to persevere in their chosen medium.
Street art is mostly traded on social media. This is not surprising, as conventional art platforms still marginalise this most contemporary form of art and artist. Regardless of this, Falko says that there is a need for traditional galleries, and classical art training, and he urges young artists and youth alike to visit art galleries to get a more balanced perspective of the world of art.
Falko says that as young graphic design student at technikon, he battled with his lecturers who insisted on the importance of studying the history of art. Falko failed to see the relevance of seemingly archaic art forms in relation to the dynamic art he was creating. In hindsight though, he has realised the narrowness of this earlier point of view: “Now that I’m older, I realise that that information actually builds the foundation for how different you can be [as an artist]. Because, if you’re a street artist and you’re only referencing other street artists, you’re just going to be the same. But if you had all the knowledge of gallery art and what other aspects of art there are, and you incorporate that into what street art is, that’s how you become different.”
There are a few more projects like this one in the pipeline, and Falko and Iziko are excited by all the potential spaces around the Gallery that could soon bear his trademark tag.
We also hope to welcome Falko to our Heritage Week 2014 programme in September, to demonstrate his art form. He prefers to do the painting himself, but says that young artists and youth interested in street art are welcome to observe him as he works, and even to talk to him and ask questions, “as long as they don’t call me ‘Uncle’!”
Come and view this unique artwork at the Annexe, and follow what other exciting work is planned at our spaces on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IzikoMuseums and Twitter: @Iziko_Museums