From The Wall To The Floor & Beyond: Three Legendary 3D Street Artists Prove Seeing Is Believing
Leon Keer (Holland)
Leon Keer is a Dutch street artist who has created artworks on almost every surface imaginable and sometimes even, on no surface at all. He has been commissioned all over the world from Dubai to Australia to the US and has shown no sign of abating now as he approaches fifty. Keer possesses a fundamental understanding of how certain materials and mediums react to another which is a significant boon to any artists who consider themselves ‘experimental’ in that regard. Keer started out doing large commercial murals for big brands, and it was here that he forged his ability to paint on just about anything and still retain the whimsical qualities that he is so famous for.
‘Every street art piece is unique and belongs to the street, and its residents, the temporary fact about this artform strengthens its existence.’
Like many street artists, Keer’s work centres on social ills and the climate that faces us as human beings both literal and philosophically, in the twenty-first century. Much like these issues, his work has been known to polarise its audience, oscillating between a state of profound truth-seeking and beleaguered indifference. What makes Keer’s work so utterly transient is his focus on the always-warring elements of the beauty in our world and the inevitability ugly side of the same coin. Keer is currently the headline act for 3D street painting in Europe known as anamorphic street art, where the imagery is tempory in form, and the message takes its permanence from the interaction with its audience and their own ability to disseminate concepts via social media and the internet at large. You can find his work here.
Tomoteru ‘Tomo’ Saito (Japan)
Tomo Saito can absolutely count himself among the very finest street artists of his generation. He was born in Osaka, Japan and completed his first street piece in his hometown in 1989. He also received his schooling in his native country and attended the Designers School in Osaka. He had previously been a working as an architect in Japan’s oldest city but soon found his calling as a street artist. Tomo had always found joy in art, but as with many Japanese children, it wasn’t considered a viable occupation by his parents.
‘Chalk art on the street is a performance. You don’t work in your studio but in public. The challenge is the surface of the street – sometimes the street is too rough or too smooth for drawing with chalk. And of course, the weather – rain, wind, heat or cold – makes it difficult to draw. I do love chalk painting – it’s exciting’.
Tomo is now a nationalised Italian citizen and lives and works in the cultural capital, Florence. Italy has served him his very best memories as an artist, and the feeling is certainly mutual. In 1997 he participated in his first street art festival there and since then has never fallen out of love with the place. Nowadays he is synonymous with 3D street art and has celebrated countless successes as a ‘madonnari’ or ‘street master’.
Brazilian Eduardo Kobra expresses himself through bold, clean lines complemented by kaleidoscopic beams of colour that bring his geometric pieces to life. He started his career as far back as 1987 and in that age with the exception of the hip-hop movement that garnered that great love from all corners of the globe. Very little information or tutelage was freely available and so like many street artists of the time, Kobra was mostly self-taught. Repeating sequences of triangles, rectangles, and lines of perspective serve as the foundation for his gargantuan works that focus on the reincarnation of famous historical music figures in a contemporary context.
‘I am moved by good quality music. I listen while I am creating, walking, relaxing. All these artists have had great importance in my trajectory and changing history and especially what motivates me to paint these characters is the personal essence of each of them which is closely linked to resilience, motivation, and inspiration.’
The juxtaposition of almost photo-realistically rendered icons and the use a cartoon-like rainbow spectrum evokes a lasting sense of nostalgia. Kobra is not unique in honoring those of the past, but the way in which he does it makes the spectacle of his pieces even more visceral. Ultimately, though, it is the human spirit that endears itself to Kobra. He illustrates perfectly the ability of mankind to be illuminating and brilliant and all those other characteristics that make us so special when we’re at our best.