Why Graffiti Is Important

The upright citizens keep repeating how much of a nuisance graffiti is, how much material damage 'those vandals' are causing and how much of a better world an environment without graffiti would be. Granted, some graffiti is just the mindless smearing of a slogan or whatever on a wall. A lot of it however is finely crafted works of art that took a substantial amount of time to plan, sketch and execute, all the while trying not get caught and working in less than perfect circumstances (late at night, in darkness, in dangerous places like beside railroad tracks, underneath flyovers, etc.).

When I look at graffiti from a train or while walking or driving I am reminded that we live in a society that allows certain things, like it or not, and graffiti is one of the things a liberal society has to put up with. Period. If not the only way to effectively avoid graffiti is by creating an atmosphere of fear through drakonian measures enforced by high frequency police presence. That clean society would automatically become a fascist society, clean, maybe with clean trains running on time but with no freedom. If I get to a new place and see graffiti by the railroad tracks, on the motorway walls and in public spaces I feel like smiling because I know that that place is alive.

These days graffiti is not the outcry of the underpriviliged that it might have been in some places in the very beginning, today the public space is just a huge canvas waiting to be claimed and painted on by those possesing the skills and the guts, sometimes both, to do so.

I look at graffiti and I am always reminded of a natural forest, where the very minute you stop weeding out the undesirables, the underbrush takes over because that's the way the world works. Instead of trying to preserve an unnatural state of cleanliness we should try and roll with it by developing an appreciation for graffiti art. That appreciation would also be pretty likely to help improve the overall aestetic quality of works of graffiti.

I myself have never dabbled in grafitti, or streetart for that matter, because it just never was my scene. I have however derived great amounts of inspiration from it and it is fair to say that graffiti has had its part in shaping the way we look at the world today.

Graffiti is also historically important because it is one of the four pillars of hip hop, probably the only art form that truly emerged from the underground in the past decades.

No matter how hard 'they' try, graffiti proves that complete control is an illusion. I take comfort in that.

Some Kind Of Monster

2012 | 100 x 70 cm | acrylics, water colors, pen,
Molotov markers on screen printing board