Hybrid Graffiti: Black-and-White Stencils Bring Colorful Tags to Life


Nearly photo-realistic figures stenciled in place make bright surrounding tags all the more vibrant in this series of street art juxtapositions by artist Martin Whatson of Norway.



The characters, generally rendered in black and white, are sized and scaled like residents and passers by in the built environment. The tags, rich and overlapping, look more like what most people would call “graffiti.” The anti-artist Gray Ghost comes to mind, famous for painting over the works of other artists, like Banksy.




On their own, each component is somewhat predictable, but in their interactions these works come to life. The characters look through windows surrounded by color, or sweep up street graffiti, or pull back walls to reveal it. The tags, in turn, add light and life to the scenes, points of color in a drab and dreary city.




Much of his work breaks this format as well, but generally still finds itself at the interaction of urban spaces and imaginary worlds. Below, a figure painting clouds on the wall gives depth and dimension on both fronts: the clouds seem to go back and the painter appears to stand out.




More about the artist and his approach: “Martin has a continuous urge to search for beauty in what is commonly dismissed as ugly, out of style or simply left behind. He looks for inspirations in people, city landscapes, old buildings, graffiti, posters and decaying walls. This interest for decay has helped develop his style, motives and composition and he enjoys creating either unity or conflict between materials, backgrounds, motives and human intervention” (via Colossal).