There is an old saying that goes “Art is the only salvation from the horror of existence.“ It was true during the neolithic era, the Julius Caesar’s Rome, the Victorian ages; it is even true today. In this times, ruled by our free will, we are led to believe that we can do anything we wish we could. Well, we actually can’t. We can’t do graffiti. Graffiti are forbidden and punishable. Therefore by any legal means, graffiti are crime.
When you think about it deeply, graffiti have always been here. Remember the oldest cave drawings in the world, located in Chauvet Cave, Ardeche, France, dated to 30 000 BC (What’s the deal with French people and art?)?
These are the drawings on the wall of a cave. Drawings on the wall = Graffiti. So graffiti are the oldest form of artistic expression. Their history is so long, beautiful and solid, but today’s focus is on their importance.
Graffiti are an uncut medium. They are uncensored extractions of a person’s thoughts, living for a short amount of time. The people of power don’t like anything uncensored, except X-rated materials. And they tend to keep their establishments’ outsides clean and perfect, so they can “hide” the nasty things that are happening on the inside. This is why graffiti are illegal. The legal equivalent of graffiti is called a mural. Murals are commissioned and done with the permission of the property owner. It’s the same thing in real life, but legally, they are two very different things.
Street art is the purest and most sincere form of art. The drawings on the wall show truth, beauty, hopes and dreams; they are instantaneous, momentary and the coolest thing ever. It’s their short lifespan and the adrenaline in the process of their making that makes them so unique and so true. You do graffiti on the spot. It’s sheer inspiration. Raw, authentic, unwashed. City walls are jeweled by words representing the political injustice, social norms, young love affairs; drawings depicting painters’ alter egos, their imaginary friends, showing us a world within our world.
Whether illegal or not, graffiti sure make a statement. It doesn’t matter if they look pretty or not, it you like them or not, it’s all a matter of taste. Street art is the greatest witness and bearer of the time we are living in. And that’s why it’s important. It will always be present, it will always be valuable. All art has been contemporary, but there’s nothing in the art world as contemporary as graffiti. They will always belong in the Now.
*None of the photos or the graffiti are made by me. All copyrights belong to their respective creators.