I began this week by looking back at the sketches I did last week for possible graffiti designs and creating stencils inspired by them. For this I looked into what common material was used and found it to be simple scrap paper or card; however, I’m conscious of the fact that on my canvas I will be using these stencils repeatedly to experiment with various: colours, placements, layering and collaging and was concerned with the durability of the paper through repeated, frequent use on a short amount of time and so chose to use cardboard as I believe thickness will guarantee structural integrity in this scenario.
For the stencils, I wanted to remain with the surrealist theme relating to the perception of reality every day with the inclusion of mental health. What I like most about these would be the eyes. Commonly they can represent clairvoyance, omniscience, a gateway into the soul vigilance and truth. While I kept all these in mind they’re also representative of being awake and asleep, reflective of a common struggle with derealization where through the loss of connection to everything and questioning what’s real, you begin to question if you’re dreaming.
The windows relate to a personal experience regarding said episodes of derealisation, during which I’d become greatly aware of the windows, believing they weren’t there before and considering that a sign I was dreaming.
I kept the stencils simple to allow me to expand on them freehand and make it easier to layer by having clear, simple base images.
Moving away from practicals, I also spent time researching various artists this week.
Firstly, I researched 2 artists from last week’s lecture, Chantel Akerman and George Shaw. Chantel Akerman (6/6/1950 – 5/10/2015) was a Belgian film director, screenwriter, artist, and film professor, who was best known for Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, which is specified in the bibliography, and was part of her substantial influence on feminist and avant-garde cinema (Gwendolyn Audrey Foster). The foundation of this praised feminism could be argued to of originated from her mother, with who she was extremely close and who actively encouraged her to pursue her career in art in the form of film instead of marrying young; a life choice which was considered the social norm and usually actively imposed upon young women. This was clearly appreciated as maternal imagery can be found throughout all of Akerman’s films as a homage to her mother.
However, it was this bond that some may claim would lead to her eventual downfall as in 2015, the same year of Akerman’s suicide, she released ‘No Home Movie’ in response to her mother’s death, which centres around the mother-daughter relationship, with a focus placed upon interactions in the kitchen. In fact, Akerman herself admitted that her mother was the centre of her work and that she felt directionless after her death. This is further supported by the evidence of her sister’s admittance that she had left hospitalisation for depression just 10 days before her death.
Art historian Terrie Sultan claims that Akerman’s “narrative is marked by an almost Proustian attention to detail and visual grace” , with her films commonly consisting of dry language, a lack of metaphorical associations, composition in a series of discontinuous blocks, and interest in putting a poor, withered syntax and reduced vocabulary in service of a new intensity ; reflective of the structuralist film and European art cinema that inspired her through its rejection of plot and appreciation of simplicity and the supposed mundane, dull every day that increases the investment of voyeurism as a pleasure for the viewer, through the use of extreme realism and an enclosed, claustrophobic set design that furthers the feeling of being restrained and under scrutiny with a desire to evolve as we witness a focus on the passage of time, which often pairs well with her feminist perspective as she explores the association with feminity and domesticity under patriarchal order.
In terms of her philosophy, Akerman has stated how she was inspired by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari  which led her to believe that her cinematic views can be explored by their writings on minor literature that predominately consists of the beliefs that everything has a collective value and how minor literature allows the minority to create in a major language.
Next, we have George Shaw (1966-present) who is an English contemporary artist who places focus on an often working-class suburban area, which is what initially enticed me to his work with my own project being partially inspired by my own working-class upbringing. It was in his home in the Tile Hill suburb in Coventry, during the 1970s, that Shaw’s skills regarding painting were first acknowledged, which led to him studying art at Sheffield Polytechnic and receiving a BA in 1989 and completing an MA in painting from London’s Royal College of Art in 1998, allowing him to be praised for his highly detailed naturalistic approach and English suburban subject matter.
Oddly, Shaw’s favoured medium is Humbrol enamel paint, usually used to paint model trains and aeroplanes meaning the thin liquid is very difficult to manipulate but gives his paintings an almost photographic appearance and it is this method that contributes to his separation from other landscape artists with his pieces often involving a double take to realise it is in fact a painting.
“I get perturbed by people who have meaningful epiphanies in expensive places – who go to India, Goa, New Zealand, and watch a glorious sunset to find themselves. If you can’t find yourself in your own backyard, you’re not going to find yourself in the Serengeti, are you? So for me, it was taking those cliches of epiphany and the sublime and putting them in a place where great thoughts aren’t rumoured to happen.”
Secondly, I researched more graffiti artists, with a focus placed on a ‘common’, ‘traditional’ graffiti style consisting of cartoonish designs with thick bold line work. To begin with, I discovered an article on graffiti in Japan ( https://sabukaru.online/articles/graffiti-in-tokyo-exists-you-just-have-to-know-where-to-find-it ) that explores the strict laws that prohibit the decoration of the bland, grey, depressing structure the writer claims to make up a large majority of Japan through constant surveillance and how strongly they enforce a stigma surrounding graffiti with the Japanese word for it translating to rakugaki [落書き], a term used to refer to the type of doodles that children make on class desks. It is for this reason that it’s believed only a small number of graffiti artists exist, however with Japan always known as the peak country of evolution and advancement, the world of graffiti is considered no exception.
Within this article, I discovered two artists: Kichi and Aiko. Unfortunately due to the aforementioned strictness of Japan’s laws against graffiti, little to nothing is known about Kichi except for the fact they’re believed to be male. His key character is a green, three-eyed alien done in the desired style I mentioned previously. It’s a cartoonish design consisting of thick bold outlines that blend into the shading with their airy application creating an almost dirty, unprofessional look reflective of the youth of this subculture in Japan with a clear inspiration through the western influence of the common graffiti style seen throughout the UK and USA. However, despite the pushback from law enforcement, Kichi has managed to amass a level of fame of which he is now selling merchandise and holding exhibitions of his work, reflective of my previous point of Japan’s continuous push towards evolution.
Luckily, there is a lot more known about Lady Aiko, who is a Japanese, Tokyo-born artist, although she is now based in Brooklyn, New York, which allowed her to become more open with her identity due to the downgrade in strictness in an area where her work is more normalised and widely accepted. In a largely male-dominated scene, Aiko is an influential figure in contemporary urban art and a huge inspiration as someone whose work is inspired by her identity and her experience as a Japanese woman who in doing so actively tries to give visibility and recognition to women and girls and to achieve gender equality, through an appreciation of feminity within her pop art style through the common colour schemes of pink, purple and gold, which are completed through the use of stencils and spray paint, brushes, collage and silkscreens.
Furthermore, despite the obstacles, she faced as a woman in this industry she’s achieved large-scale works installed in cities like Rome, Italy, Shanghai, China, and Brooklyn, New York.
-Highly respected on the international graffiti scene, she even worked with Banksy on “Exit Through the Gift Shop” in 2010.
-Her works were part of the 2017 URBAN NATION museum opening exhibition in Berlin.
-In 2018 she performed Lady Go! her solo exhibition at the Tokaido Hiroshige Museum in Shizuoka City. 
narrative is marked by an almost Proustian attention to detail and visual graceAkerman, Chantal; Sultan, Terrie (2008). Chantal Akerman: Moving Through Time and Space. Bluffer Gallery, Art Museum of the University of Houston: Distributed Art Publishers.
with her films commonly consisting of dry language, a lack of metaphorical associations, composition in a series of discontinuous blocks, and interest in putting a poor, withered syntax and reduced vocabulary in service of a new intensityDeleuze, Gilles; Guattari, Félix; Brinkley, Robert (1983). “What Is A Minor Literature?”. Mississippi Review. 3 (1).
Akerman has stated how she was inspired by Gilles Deleuze and Felix GuattariMarguilles, Ivonne (1996). Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman’s Hyperrealist Everyday. Durham: Duke University Press.
I get perturbed by people who have meaningful epiphanies in expensive places – who go to India, Goa, New Zealand, watch a glorious sunset to find themselves. If you can’t find yourself in your own back yard, you’re not going to find yourself in the Serengeti, are you? So for me, it was taking those cliches of epiphany and the sublime and putting them in a place where great thoughts aren’t rumoured to happen.George Shaw – Interview by Kate Kellaway – Sun 15 Nov 2015 09.00 GMT
GRAFFITI CULTURE IN TOKYO: THE STREETS ARE YOURS – Elena Calderón Aláez – 16th March 2021
Good post Jennifer, great you responded to my feedback on the last post and are now working towards a canvas instead of a wall and great you’ve done some more research into Graffiti artists and found 2 that have inspired you. Good that you included a video of you cutting the stencil, this gives us access to your process, however it makes me want to help you get set up with a good knife, board and some better card! let’s talk about this in the next tutorial. Interesting to read about your experiences of ‘derealisation’ I am so glad that you are exploring this issue in your work, as it enables you to approach your work from a more personal and unique perspective, so more interesting for us the viewer. Have you done much reading on it? could you share this with us in your posts?