SpY urban art: Towards an enlightened conscience in the city

With outdoor advertising occupying most of the public space of major cities around the world, the urban landscape is a fertile ground for marketing and business purposes. However, in the past years, artists have started to reclaim the city, and we are not referring to institutionalized art initiatives, but rather to independent interventions that incite dialogue within the community, transform and comment on urban reality, and challenge the passerby to reflect on relevant social issues or relate to certain concepts.

After becoming a main reference on the graffiti scene in Spain since the mid-eighties, self-taught artist SpY began to explore new forms of communication in the street in the following decade, using ordinary objects and urban elements to create site-specific thought-provoking installations that appeal to people through their positive humor and irony, and the ludic spirit that defines his ingenious works, always new and unexpected considering theme, context and media.

Despite the tendency to build on the power of the image and focus less on words in art and other fields, SpY is an artist who manages to create an amazing visual impact through words, that are carefully chosen for their great expressiveness and complex meanings in his recent and previous murals and interventions, breaking the daily routine in order to offer a moment of enlightenment or a simple smile.

SpY is a silent observer of the noisy, repetitive and inert contemporary lifestyle, of human behavior and the changes that constantly reshape the urban space to the benefit of people or on the contrary. And beyond the intention of a welcomed creative intrusion in the street, he approaches issues of public interest such as excessive surveillance, illusive principles and social values, society’s errors and our egocentric perspectives of life.

With his artistic discourse, SpY has been an inspiration for us and we invite you to interpret in your own vision a selection of his outstanding 2014 pieces and several past projects.

SpY urban art

EGO, Santander (Spain), 2014

I'M NOT A REAL ARTIST

I’M NOT A REAL ARTIST, Nuit Blanche, Paris (France), 2014

“The letters were painted with phosphorescent paint that is replenished throughout the day by the light of the sun as well as by spotlights placed in front of the building. After the lights are fully charged, they shine brightly on their own once night falls”.

Nuart Festival 2014

ERROR, Nuart Festival 2014, Stavanger (Norway)

Nuart Festival 2014

BARRELS, Nuart Festival 2014, Stavanger (Norway)

“Oil barrels installed in front the Petroleum Museum in Stavanger city with the intent to disrupt the passage of visitors”.

MOON installation

MOON, Lausanne (Switzerland), 2014

Cameras Madrid

CAMERAS – Madrid (Spain), 2013

“Installation of 150 fake security cameras on building facade with the intention of not watching over anything”.

Funeral

FUNERAL, Besançon (France), Bien Urbain, 2013

WRAP - police car

WRAP, Cologne (Germany), City Leaks Urban Art Festival, 2013

“German Police car wrapped in clear film”.

AMOR

AMOR, Mexico DF (Mexico), 2011

“This work is part of the Words Alive project.

In Words Alive, SpY leaves his usual captionless visual puzzles and takes up a new, sturdy toolbox full of very powerful objects: words. Single, black, big words. Brief groups of letters that convey single, affirmative, urgent, ideas. Concepts all pedestrians, the local as well as the chance passerby, can relate to.

Words that can become intimate part of the lives of those who live, grow up, and evolve around them, that can become landmarks, catalyzing connections within and beyond the community, through a network of large-scale pieces in cities all over the world.”

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Images and videos © SpY

View more on his website, on Facebook, Instagram and Vimeo.