New murals for Urban Forms in the quarter of Bałuty on occasion of “4 cultures Festival“.
All the works are based on the alphabet created by Władysław Strzemiński, used for creating the logo of the city of Łódź.
The building is an elementary school in Ul. Bojownikow Getta 3 street, Bałuty, Łódź.
Critical essay by Claudio Cravero
‘The constant Learner’
“Remanufacture and Harring. A tribute to Władysław Strzemiński”
Urban Forms Foundation and Lodz 4 Cultures festival, Lodz, Poland , 2017
In Opiemme’s recent urban work on the occasion of Lodz 4 Cultures festival, the artist’s signs are extensively covering different surfaces of a school building. From walls to sidewalks, and all around, any viewer or passer-by is thus literally encircled by texts and motifs realized with spray paint and stencils techniques. Everywhere one looks or turns, the geometric patterns connect the soil to sky. And the moment the eye moves onto the next texture, everything begins spinning as if one were surrounded by this new story-telling.
It is Opiemme’s Tribute to Wladyslaw Strzemiński, the Polish vanguard abstract painter and typographer who designed this unique font in the 1930s. Mostly consisting of a curved line, the font Opiemme drew on was actually meant to communicate the spirit of future, dynamism and modernity across Polish society. The artist uses this type of lettering as an insight into the socialist realism architecture, the urban style of many public buildings that still speak about Poland’s heritage, regardless of the cultures that have cast the country throughout the time.
The same technique is also employed in Opiemme’s Herring, a mural in the nearby park. There, the informally-named ‘Park of a Herring’ shows a fish-shaped black silhouette to remind through few
signs the fish market taking place in the same location before World War II, but it is also used in reference to the Jewish ghetto Baluty, the second largest of its kind in Europe.
Looking up at Opiemme’s public artwork means somehow losing one’s balance. The hallucinatory effect can be read as a visual illustration of the fact that letters do not necessarily bring words to life. Besides, since Opiemme’s work covers a Primary school façade, the artist seems to shed light on the unseen forces of the power of teaching that permeates our constant need for learning. Over the eight day-painting performance (because to Opiemme art is a more complex action than putting colors to canvas), artist’s father’s recent demise has been recalled. Amongst the thoughts, Opiemme wants to express gratitude for
the apprenticeship taken on at the age of 16. In fact, sent by the father to learn interior decoration, Opiemme is still thankful for the working legacy that was handed down by this inspiring mentor. Ultimately, texts and signs are there to remind how learning is a constant process of self-building rather than a skills-set to adopt and use. Indeed, in Lodz it is even more evident that there are no cultural barriers when it comes to learning. Learning represents the exceeding power to bond one another. It is everywhere and nowhere, because nobody leaves us forever.
Here is an article Urban Forms, “Out of the ordinary. Opiemme Dialogue’s with architecture“, and another by Aleksandra Sumorok, translated by Wojciech Szymański and published by Urban Forms, previously posted by “Łódź w Kulturze”: “Opiemme and her dialogues“.
Aleksandra Sumorok is an art historian, assistant professor at “Władysław Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź”.
In her research work she focuses on the architecture and design of the 20th century,
with particular emphasis on the period of socialist realism. She is author of the book, “The architecture and urbanism of Łódź during the period of socialist realism” and numerous papers on complex problems of Polish architecture in the 40s and 50s.
A freestyle painting for Urban Forms, which composition is based on the repetitive rhythm of elements in the white boxes. These elements viewed from left to right produce the illusion of a slowly growing movement of the subject, similarly as for the single film frames or a stop-motion footage. The black and white background consisting of calligrams and large planes of color contrasts with the tones of the city and the sky.
While painting Opiemme was thinking about the obvious stillness of giant objects observed in the universe. They may appear static because of their vast dimensions. That relates space to time. The title of the mural, “BlackHoleSun”, refers to the Soundarden’s song that was stuck in the artist’s mind during the creation of the work. The wall is dedicated to the memory of Chris Cornell.
A video by school “Via Giuseppe Messina”, Cinecittà, Roma
A new collective mural painted with the partecipation of 1000 children from 3 to 13 years old of the school “I.C. Via Giuseppe Messina” in Roma. The children choose negative words to be deleted by throwing eggs filled with colors in a collective performance.
Than some new positive words were suggested by children to be painted on these colors. The mural represents constellation of Pisces, a symbol of renaissance.
A text by Urban Forms Foundation introducing the performance experience of Taurus in Poland:
Opiemme is one of the most interesting contemporary street artists balancing at the edge of image, text and collective performance. His highly symbolic works consisting of images, geometric patterns, letters, and calligrams remind some historical movement as visual poetry, concrete poetry, and aesthetics of futurism. In 2015-2016 Opiemme completed three projects based on the idea of audience’s participation in the creation of the works. In each of these projects both the social and natural/urban landscape played an important role at the level of the performance, form of the work and its meaning. The first of these performances, „Intralci – Hindrances”, took place in July 2015 during the festival AMBRIAJAZZ. Opiemme with an up-and-coming young jazz trombonists Gianluca Petrella created an unique show in the garden of a private villa in a small village, Castionetto di Chiuro, in northen Italy.
Against the background of a breathtaking mountain landscape Opiemme was pouring stripes of colorful paint down a large board while Petrella was playing the trombone. The public was invited to take part in the show and acted as the witness observing or rather experiencing the process of creation. Opiemme was hidden behind the board so people just saw hands holding bottles with paint and colors flowing down the surface. Music was following colors, colors were following sounds, music and art were dialoging with nature. After the show had ended people described it as a deep, multisensory, and psychedelic experience leading to a kind of trance. Music followed the colors, and colors followed the music.
In the performances of 2016 the audience played much more advanced role of a co-creator. “The stars guide him through the night” was completed with active participation of the students of a highschool in Imperia, Liguria, Italy. The collectively painted mural was a tribute to Felice Cascione – an Italian partisan who came from this town. Cascione is known to have written a famous partisan song titled “Fischia il vento” („The wind whistles”) in 1943. Along with “Bella ciao” it is one of the most famous songs celebrating the resistance.
Around 30 young students using Opiemme’s stencils and brushes painted the mural on the school wall. They perceived it as a relaxing activity releasing them from stress of the last year exams and choices regarding future education. The mural changed the main entrance of the school. The project was much appreciated by students and teachers as well as by the local media.
The “Taurus” project was more complex. It was realized for the Urban Forms Foundation in September 2016 in one of the most neglected quarters of the city of Lodz, Poland, plagued by numerous socio-economic problems, such as inherited poverty, unemployment, or alcoholism. In the near future the location will be undergoing deep changes associated with the process of revitalization. The „Taurus” started with preparation of nearly 300 blown eggs, which were then filled with paint. Eggs were used for omelets – a treat for the residents during the information campaign at the location and the collective mural painting. Before the performance Opiemme painted a large black circle with the stenciled word WINA (BLAME). It was supposed to be covered by colorful paint cast by the participants.
Different groups of people took part in the action. “Bombs” with paint were thrown by children and adults, students, journalists, residents of neighboring houses, men who often drink beer in the nearby backyard and many others. In the interpretation of this happening a communitas category, introduced to the social sciences by Victor Turner, could be applied.
In the condition of communitas the participants of the event are experiencing unexpected communalism emerging across boundaries and regardless of their status in everyday life. It is a temporary phenomenon of an anti-structural nature that may be invoked by the performative actions similar the Taurus performance.
Filling the black circle with colors and application of the two new words – OPPORTUNITIES (możliwości in Polish) and DESTINY, that replaced the stigmatizing inscription WINA/BLAME had also a symbolic meaning. As Opiemme explained they express symbolically the upcoming revival of the location which should be carried out with a strong participation of the local community.
The nature of this artistic intervention refers to the traditional rite of passage, closely linked to the concept of communitas. The status of a stigmatized space symbolized by the inscription BLAME is waived by collective action similar to a transition phase (so called liminal phase). Then a new, desired order is established through the completed work presenting a minimalist Taurus constellation and the new positive words.
Sibilla Aleramo’s first novel “A Woman at Bay” (Una Donna) describes her arrival in the town of Civitanova Marche, when she was about 11 years old and saw the sea for the first time. Doplhins are symbol of this connection, as well are letterforms, calligrams composed with words by Aleramo’s first impressions of the sea,collected from the first pages of her first book: “The sea was a bad expanse of silver, the sky an infinite smile resting upon my head…“. “My lungs drank in with avidity all that free air, that salty breath. I would race up and down in the sun on the shore and face the waves as they curled on the sand.” “Dolphins” is a site-specific mural refering on the hard life of Sibilla Aleramo. A vortex of dolphins, a downard spiral, aims to create a relationship between the sea described in her words, and what she passed through before arriving to this town: being raped by a brutal husband who worked for her father.
The composition of the mural, with the spiral of dolphins, and the constellation of Delphinus running through it, refers to the series “Vortex” of Opiemme. In mythology, there are many stories connecting dolphins with rescue. Sibilla Aleramo became a symbol of a new woman that rules her own life, a woman that saved herself from a written life. The latin proverb “per aspera ad astra” (top right – “through hardships to the stars”.) works as comment to Sibilla Aleramo’s life. Opiemme’s signature (top left) is combined with a phrase by the artist: “The wind shakes my thoughts”
Opiemme, Delfini / Dolphins, tribute to Sibilla Aleramo, 2017
Opiemme, Delfini / Dolphins, tribute to Sibilla Aleramo, 2017
Opiemme, Delfini / Dolphins, tribute to Sibilla Aleramo, 2017
A site specific project for Urban Forms Foundation at 20 Jaracza Street in Lodz, Poland. The local community took an active part in this collective performance. A word “blame” (in Polish “wina”), stenciled on the wall, has been erased by throwing 300 eggs filled with colorful paint. Opiemme painted a minimalist Taurus constellation, and the erased word “wina/blame” was replaced by both “destiny” and the Polish word “możliwości” that means “opportunities”, and fits best the location.The mural is a part of Opiemme’s “Vortex” series, in this case inspired by Taurus constellation as well as the zodiac sign of the most
famous Lodz architect Hilary Majewski (15 May 1838), who lived nearby the area. Majewski, through his architectural designs, largely shaped the historical center of Lodz.
The larger colored circle on the left is the result of the collective performance, and represents Aldebaran, an orange giant star located about 65 light years from the Sun in the zodiac constellation of Taurus. Taurus symbolizes an idea of power, re-birth, and reinassance.
A tribute to Nirvana’s song “Heart-shaped box”, from “In Utero” (1993).
The wall is at the corner between Via Roma and Via Parri in Follonica, Tuscany.
A text by curator Karin Gavassa:
«Opiemme mural represents the first verse of Nirvana Heart-Shaped Box, the first single taken from In Utero. Opiemme tribute is a cascade of pure black letters shaping an heart of 30 square metres on a 100mq facade deep in the city centre of Follonica.
An intimate and deep message of love, as critic Charles R. Cross pointed out in his Kurt Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven (2001). With the lyric “I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black”, the frontman “sang in what has to be the most convoluted route any songwriter undertook in pop history to say ‘I love you’”. Opiemme stencils recall the dramatic intensity of Cobain lyrics, dissolving it in a figurative stream of consciousness on the wall of the historical building Casello Idraulico»
Students from “Liceo Vieusseux” of Imperia painted the hall of their highschool. A tribute to Felice Cascione, an important figure in italian partisan resistance. He composed “Fischia il vento”, an Italian popular song whose text was written in September 1943, at the inception of the resistenza.
The phrase of mural is from this song and says: “the stars guide him through the night, strong his heart and his arm when they strike”. This relates the work to the Vortex’s quest.
In this quick street piece painted with David de la Mano in the center of Montevideo, the artists wanted to relate the figure and the words to the nearby church of Nuestra Senora de los Dolores Tierra Santa. Appropriately titled “Asunciòn”, it is based on a poem by Julio
Cortàzar, the novelist, short story writer, and essayist. “Oh noche, asiste” is about outer space as well, Opiemme tells us, and he used the portion of the poem that says “Oh night take care of your lonely stars”.
Street poetry on bricks. Words are from the very first three lines of Wislawa Szymborska’s poem “Under a certain little star”.
“My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity in case I’m mistaken.
Don’t be angry, happiness, that I take you for my own.”
After three months travelling through Italy the first steps and murals of this project are done. With a series of poetic paintings, concieved in a site specific way, with attention to local poets, with texts able to represent a part of the culture of the visited places, Opiemme created a poetic route of street poetry, that simbolically crosses Italy from North to South. “A jourmey through painting and poetry” is a public
art project and a Manifesto of the aims expressed by Opiemme since the beginning of it’s quest: “bringing poetry closer to people, to renew communication channels, and searching new ways of presenting poetry.” Opiemme moved a step forward in bringing street poetry deep into muralism, passing from ephemeral actions to images and words painted and visible in public spaces and daily life spots.
This project was covered by ZIGULINE webzine, and supported by: Portanova12 (Bologna), 3)5 Artecontemporanea (Rieti)
18 murals: from 30 to 180 square meters, a 7 km “River of words” painted on the pavements of Turin,
3 bus stops, and a site-specific installation for a performance
Poems and texts by: E. A Poe, Giovanni Pascoli, S. Francesco D’Assisi, Louise Armstrong, Franco Arminio,
Giacomo Leopardi, System of a Down, local poets from Menfi (Sicily), Riccardo Bacchelli, and others
“Italian fine artist and Street Artist Opiemme took a variety of routes to employ the text-based art on the street this summer with his “journey through painting and poetry,” a project inspired by poets he loves. Breaking apart, recombining, stretching and spreading the written letterform, the public poetic paintings were conceived to be site-specific and included walls and pavement installations across Italy from north to south, including Torino, Bologna, Rieti, Pizzo Calabro, Faggiano (Taranto), Ariano Irpino, Menfi, Genova, Tirano (Sondrio), and finally Rome. With the help of a webzine, a few galleries, and even the city of Turin, Opiemme found a receptive audience for his works, perhaps because he chose scribes known and admired in the locations he created works for. Among them are local writers and poets mixed
with the American Jazz musician Louis Armstrong and Armenian-American rock band System of a Down. Also included are Edgar Allan Poe, Giovanni Pascoli, S. Francesco D’Assisi, Franco Arminio, Giacomo Leopardi, and Riccardo Bacchelli. Opiemme says he likes to explore the border between poetry and image, public and private, and to use the printed word as a graphic element on which to build more meanings, even as he sometimes disconnects the letters from their original context. With work that often touches on social or environmental themes his work has evolved onto the street and into the gallery in the 10+ years he has been practicing. For the Turin born Opiemme it is about plumbing the fine lines between public art, Street Art, and the written word to bring poetry out into the open.”