Standing on the shoulders of giants

The relationship between graffiti and the art appreciating public has always been fraught with tension. While nowadays public temperament has shifted enough to concede that some elements of graffiti (typically the most colourful or graphically expressive) are worthy of consideration as art, graffiti still doesn't exist comfortably within an art world context in Australia. One of the underlying factors for this antagonistic relationship is the fundamental truth that practitioners of graffiti by and large don’t seek the validation of the art world and its inhabitants. Graffiti is a universal means of self-expression, but it is a largely closed subculture - pursued and appreciated by those who partake in its practice. This article looks to contextually highlight the remarkably sophisticated technical and stylistic developments in abstracted letter structure that occurred in a relatively short duration of time in the earliest days of Australian graffiti, through primarily focusing on the collective visual output of Melbourne’s Duel and Merda, as well as Sydney’s Caib.

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