First appearing on the streets of New York in the 1970s, graffiti found its way to Africa in the 1980s. Here, this art form was received with a vibrant community with artists who are full of enthusiasm.
However, they do not get the attention of many media outlets or have many opportunities to become representatives of international festivals such as artists from Europe or North America.
Falko One – the pioneer
In 1988, Falko One started participating in a cultural activity group at one of the only clubs where people of color could go to a party in Cape Town (South Africa). There, he was introduced to the world of hip hop and grafitti. To date, Falko One is recognized with the boom of graffiti art in his country. Falko helped promote a network of young South African artists and veterans in Europe so they could learn from each other. In 1996, he began the first Graffiti competition in South Africa called Battle with Vapours and was held for many years.
His works are decorated throughout Cape Flats, rural areas, towns and many cities around the world. His art is depicted by imagination and dreaming. He said: “It is an explanation of the world around me. My composition influences the synthesis of political and social views. However, I do not force my opinion for everyone. I do art so I put up visual aesthetics first, then I will put in a small message and change from region to region”.
Falko had studied graphic design studies but had to give up halfway. Then he met King Jamo – one of the hip-hop artists who came to The Base club. Kinga Jamo showed him his crew’s flag with the word Zulu written in graffiti. King Jamo told Falko that they are looking for young Graffiti artists to join their group. Since then, Falko has been attached to the art.
Wisetwo – art for children
In Kenya’s bustling city of Nairobi, artist Wisetwo has been engaged in this street art for over a decade. From childhood, he had a special interest in art, believing that all children loved it. Then, Wisetwo wondered, “Are kids really only interested in the painting?” and everyone around him gave him the answer that science and business are more important than art.
Although the answer is not convincing, Wisetwo still decided to pause the brush and aerosol to study international relations as a contingency plan. However, grafitti is still a passion and it takes him around the world from Canada to Yemen. “Trying to unite politics and art is not an easy task. This world has too many problems. Fixing them is not my job. I just draw to make it look more beautiful”, he confided.
Last year, Wisetwo had its first solo exhibition in Paris. He exhibited paintings of African masks influenced by ancient civilizations like the Mayans, Aztecs and Mesopotamia and Egyptian hieroglyphs.