Reviving the city one wall at time

Mook Lion spray painting a store in Morningside. Photo supplied.

WHILE graffiti art as we know it today began in the 70s in New York and Philadelphia, it was the hip hop movement which was responsible for spreading graffiti throughout Western Europe and Western influenced countries. As an art form. graffiti was frowned upon during its earlier years, but today Durban based graffiti artists like Mook Lion and CJ are using their spray cans to add colour and life in the community.

The duo, who just completed a commissioned piece on Mathews Meyiwa Road in Greyville, say it would be great and beneficial to the city if it would open up a lot of legal walls for street artists to use.

Mook Lion, who is currently studying his Masters in fine art at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), who has had a run-in with the police and was charged for malicious damage to property on two occasions as a result of his active, often unsanctioned, use of public space through graffiti, says he is pleased that street art and graffiti is becoming more accepted.

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“This particular piece has an environmental message with a lot of Durban elements. People love it and since starting, people have come up to chat to us and express how grateful they are that we are bringing life to their communities. It would be great if we had a lot of legal walls because it will offer a platform for artists to expose their work,” said Mook Lion.

CJ spray painting a store in Morningside. Photo supplied.

Through institutional education at DUT, Mook Lion began attempting to combine academic fine art and graffiti which lead him to this area of interest. Currently, he often works collaboratively with experienced artists and community members, aiming to make art which performs a social and cultural function by beautifying or repurposing wasted space and communicating with the public around social injustices and the importance of nature preservation. His study is practice-based with the aim of producing site specific and socially conscious artwork in the public domain.

CJ,who is part of Creative Junkies Foundation, an organisation which aims to develop and create a platform for the Durban youth to express their creative ideas, concepts, thoughts and plans, says Durban has a lot of abandoned houses which would be ideal for graffiti artists to have free rein to create art that would be seen by everyone.

Ryan Curnow from Lucky Break, who commissioned the art mural said: “With everyone focusing on Umhlanga, there is a need to revive the old streets of Durban and bring back customers that once shopped in these old roads. We are also uplifting the surrounding community to make it more palatable when you drive past. The aim is to create a better shopping experience and at the same time uplift the surrounding area to beautify the urban decay that has set in.”

 

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  AUTHOR
Rudy Nkgadima

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