"Aberration" 250 x 400 mm, 2013.

“Aberration” 250 x 400 mm, 2013. Coloured pencil drawing.

Aberration: ‘departure from what is normal or accepted as right; a moral or mental lapse’: from The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary.  Also, my latest drawing.

When I am on city streets hunting down inspiration with my weapon of choice (my camera) one of the subjects I look out for is street art.  It isn’t necessarily easy to find, depending on how industrious aberrant artists have been, combined with the vigilance of local councils to clean it off.  In Paris there must be quite an effort to discourage street art as it seems to be annihilated soon after installation.  I feel fortunate if I capture examples of this furtive artistic practice.  Now and then I want to give permanence to a temporary public image by making a drawing of it (inasmuch as a drawing may be considered permanent).

Plain old tagging is ghastly but street art may be humorous, stylish, chic, confronting, thought-provoking, clever and/or valid fine art.  Perhaps it is just something to cause an inward chuckle.  Maybe it has a social or political message.  Whatever it is, if I see it, I scrutinize it, weighing up its value to me as a spectactor.  Might I, as an artist, want to make my own art from it?

You may look at this drawing and wonder why anyone would want to draw a picture of torn images on a dirty and decayed wall.  Well, why wouldn’t you think that; even more so when weather and time have caused partial degradation of the artwork.  Yet there is something about the smiling woman, her 1950s outfit and the warm colours and textures of the surfaces.  The paste-up of the woman has elegance and wit about it.  The head to the left of the woman represents Sid Vicious from The Sex Pistols.  His presence in this tableau suggests rebellion and punk culture.  I am pondering over concepts of beauty and ugliness; which is which?   How does one draw the line between one and the other?  Can art attract and repel simultaneously?

It is all gone of course…long ago washed away by cleaners.  I saw it, captured it and drew it.   Is it art?  Is it art as a drawing?  Was it art while it was displayed on a Saint Germain des Près wall?   Am I deluded?  What do you think?

"rue du Chat qui Pêche"

“rue du Chat qui Pêche” 240 x 340 mm, 2012.  Another drawing of Paris street art.

I invite you to cross to my page Subject 4: Street Art to see a selection of street art drawings from 2003 to the present.

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12 thoughts on “Aberration

  1. anna warren portfolio

    This is great Julie, love this work! I have just looked at your Street Art page, and there are some wonderful images. I take photos of it too when I travel, I found some great ones on London last time I was there. I really like the idea that you have captured something that is ephemeral – it is a homage to the original artist, yet what you have drawn is something else again, taking a particular moment in time as the works have begun to deteriorate and change. Also, by the way you have selected and cropped the images you have created something new. Your technique lends itself perfectly to this sort of work. I love seeing the diversity of the subjects that grab you! There is lots more in your post – about beauty and ugliness in art, but I won’t keep on, don’t want to fill the entire page!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Oh Anna – please DO fill the entire page. That is why I was asking these questions; so that people like you would give me some answers.
      By the way, I didn’t mean to publish the post today at all. I was editing it (for publication on Friday) but in my sleepy state I clicked on PUBLISH instead of UPDATE. That’s why if the post is in your email inbox, the links are not live!

      1. anna warren portfolio

        I wanted to respond before but it has been a HECTIC day! Oh, and I found this is the Reader, which I generally check about this time each day, all the links seemed to work there … Ah art, beauty and ugliness. Eye of the beholder, I suppose, but often they are interchangeable. Many people are shocked by subject matter they consider worthless or ugly, but there is so much more to it, so much to be found in unexpected places – such as street art, or posters tearing off a wall. I remember once doing a charcoal drawing of a fly, hugely enlarged, and I thought it became a beautiful object but I remember one woman’s response to it was disgust. Likewise a drawing I did of a very exaggerated wombat skull, which I framed alongside an enlarged drawing of a dying tulip. The forms were really reminiscent of one another, but quite aggressive in a way. I heard a man looking at it saying ‘I wouldn’t want that on my wall’! I didn’t sell it, but still like it. It is so personal isn’t it? But I do believe every artwork should have a soul – surface pretty just can’t cut it. (Almost the whole page, stop now!)

      2. juliepodstolski Post author

        Anna, I am with you 100% and I understand exactly what you are saying…and thank you so much for saying it here. Upsetting people with art is something artists must do from time to time – to help people to think. The responses you have had are just as good if not better than ‘arrrh how beautiful’ at some gorgeous rendition of typical beauty. A strong response, positive or negative, means that your art has caused a reaction. Artists reflect the world we live in; we observe and reflect. Seeing beyond the superficial is essential if we are to do more than skim the surface of life!!!

      3. anna warren portfolio

        I tried to reply below, but somehow couldn’t, so this will appear out of sequence! But just very briefly – you are right, a strong response to art is a good thing. Making people think a bit, hopefully. But having said that, I do aim for a kind of beauty in my work, I guess it is not necessarily what everyone would agree with! “Seeing beyond the superficial” is a very good way of putting it and something to strive for.

      4. juliepodstolski Post author

        Hmm, Anna, this will appear out of sequence too.. but it is a reply to your last comment. I have been re-reading a children’s book called ‘Myeko’s Gift’ by Kay Haugaard, 1966. It was my own book when I was a child. A Japanese father tells his young daughter about painting.
        He says “The most important thing, Myeko-chan, is the spirit, the LIFE of the painting. It is not enough to paint the outside of a tree or a flower. One must paint the soul to give the painting life. This is what the great artist will do. The poor artist paints but the outside world.”
        In other words, perhaps “seeing beyond the superficial”.

      5. anna warren portfolio

        In the end they do appear in sequence – how strange! Been away from my computer all weekend, hence late response, but I did see your FB post about this book, and it is a lovely comment the father makes, I think he is absolutely right. Your love of all things Japanese goes back a long way!

  2. hafandegFran

    I love what you’ve done. The wall artist captured the political sentiment exactly, whenever it was done (and, sadly, things haven’t really changed that much for most women). But you are amazing for spotting it, and seeing the beauty in it. You constantly surprise me. Thank you.

  3. juliepodstolski Post author

    My sister, Jeannie, wrote her thoughts in an email. She came up with ideas I hadn’t thought of so I quote her here. She writes “To me, the Sid Vicious face is like an alter ego of the smiling, cheerful face of the woman doing the cleaning. It’s an inner face that is really very grumpy! I can relate to it because that’s how I feel at times.
    But at the same time I guess that the second face wasn’t what the artist intended – the art has become what it is by force of random circumstances. But it’s become something interesting so I don’t think you’re deluded.”

  4. occasionalartist

    What a fabulous surprise this post was Julie, I was expecting another of your gorgeous geisha, and I got street art, I thought for a moment it was another friends post who does Melbourne street art. It is just lovely, then I thought I lot of your drawings are about the beauty you find in the streets, so this is another facet. Doing a drawing of the street art is fascinating, making what is meant to be public and fleeting into a permenant and private art work is mind bending.

    I am a fan of street art, especially paste ups that do no harm to the surface and come off. We have some great work in Melbourne and it brings art to everyone and enlivens the urban environment. When it also has a message or makes people think like this one how much better. Really enjoyed the conversation this post has sparked. Karen

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Yay! Karen, I’ve had that ‘street art’ page for months and now, thanks to you, it FINALLY has a ‘like’ under it.
      I’ve heard about the Melbourne street art; it is quite famous.
      As to my street art drawings being another facet of beauty I find in the streets – not unlike geisha – YES. I’d never thought of that!!! So thanks. I’m delighted you made a link which I hadn’t consciously made myself. I’m happy to see that you also like street art.


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