Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Julian Beever- Optical Illusionist and good fun

This London artist makes completely flat on the ground images appear 3-dimensional, these surprising images also make one smile and have something to say.

Julian remembered his school teacher telling him that although he was a good artist, he stayed safely within his boundaries. That hurt at first and then helped define him. This humble and peaceful character soon developed into a street artist who pushed himself while still maintaining a playful smirk.

Julian begins each work with the location, think Mel Brooks's crack about the vampire's stake through the heart: "Location, location, location". He chooses busy city walkways and pavements were a) people are walking towards a well known and established gallery (Tate Modern) or more simply b) people are leaving their concrete cages for their 1pm lunch. They mill around him throughout the process, sometimes lasting days. This encourages the artist, the open companionship with the crowd. He also has to watch out for the sometimes less charming council employee who can legally order him to stop his "graffiti". This has driven many artists underground and sparked their notoriety.

Julian soon chooses the landmark or subject he will reproduce and the angle of distortion. Very important in creating an illusion. He then chalks it, think art class and Vermeer, pulling a chalked piece of string and then pinging it on the ground like an elastic. The lines are now formed which will be the skeletons of his perspective.

All the while, the idea is bearing fruit in his head and driving him, along with, I suspect, his eagerness to please an audience. This is not lost on them either as he sets up his camera (every artist should carry a camera) and examines the bare scene through the frame. Modestly, he will not feel above asking passersby to look through the lens at the chalked marks:

"Does that look like a perfect circle to you? Are those lines matching?" He will spend at least an hour(s) getting the perspective just right, enough.

Julian is a street artist although he sounds a lot like my former well spoken Geography teacher, Mr. Lardner. He draws you in, but nicely, you expect him in his smeared jeans and cap to break off and offer you a cup of tea. Instead he wields his chalk and colour, chatting away.

He does stop though to have a jibe at the Tate Modern artists. Again, as my old art history teacher did (he has struck a cord here). Conceptual art in it's, pardonez moi, bull manure sense is not "cool" with him. I must interject here that while I don't disregard conceptual art, I do find his irreverence amusing. Placing a stretch of tarpaulin on the ground to protect the work from the rain, he quips that that ought to be enough to get him into the Tate Modern.

There is something about him, his experience coupled with his very vital street art that hints at the outsider. He is not establishment, then again who wants to be? He is also not the normally praised street artist with a "hip hop, rewind, choon, selector" flair now rampant in London. If the above combination of phrases have confused you, please check out the urban, which deserves a post of it's own at a later point.

The one thing we need to realise about art of this kind is that it is free, it is neither corporate nor appeasing the masses, nor dumbed down. It is truly independent art. Anyone can do it! This is both expansive and down to earth. Street-level down to earth. I hope you have enjoyed this foray into Julian's pieces and that you enjoy more art in your street soon.


perlica said...

Patience, truth, journey....made me think!

Thanks for your kindly invitation. Very interesting toughts on your page.

Deirdre said...

I love this kind of art. Am I right in remembering that in order to get this 3-D effect, the chalk drawings are very very long and can only be looked at in one direction?

How someone can conceive and execute these is beyond me.

Clarity said...

Best compliment possible Perlica :) and welcome

Deirdre, you got it right, the view from above the globe is of a long oval stretching for half a block. When viewed from the chosen angle it looks truly altered and 3-D. I suppose like a giant and instant magic eye.

Anonymous said...

The dregs of conceptual art are still with us, wherein it's considered selling out to learn a definable skill, like the kind needed to execute these wonderful pavement renderings in chalk. It's fitting that the artist plants these images near the posh, pretentious galleries, so even corporate monkeys can't miss it.

Stephanie said...

That is so cool! I have never seen anything like that! Those pictures are amazing. That is one talented artist.

muralimanohar said...

Well, that totally beats out MY post about him, lol! I'm going to point people here to get a better education on this awesome artist. :p

annie said...


Kimpossible said...

That is so cool!

Anonymous said...

This is so impressive. It makes me shake my head again and wonder how artists are able to have this kind of vision. Again, this is very impressive and very cool.

Alexandra said...

I echo all of the above
this is really cool.