Wonderwall: A Street Gallery


The precursor to what can be defined as modern street art found its origins dating back to the 1970’s, New York, where the city saw its maturation, denoted by the graffiti developed in subway systems and on the outskirts of the city.

Like the Paleolithic cave paintings of Lascaux or the inscriptions in the Catacombs of Rome, the premise that catapulted street art in the New York subways stemmed from the marginalised and, too (metaphorically and literally), started from the underground. The nature of its unusual and secluded origins is a commentary of a precarious and troubling world that was happening above. And what was happening above the graffiti-laden subways was a metropolis plagued by an economic recession that gave birth to a bleak and dispiriting reality.

A general discontentment among big-city kids confronted by a hopeless economic climate and idleness in an urban jungle with little or nothing to offer, propelled them towards graffiti as a form of self-expression. It was a way of rebelling against a flawed system, thus capturing the zeitgeist of that era through slogans of protest, political and social commentary and cryptic symbols of typography and iconography — outlining the hallmarks of one aspect that define street art today.

Like its art movement predecessors, street art still faces a general social dissent, with debates on whether such form of creation can be considered art. Yet walking down the streets of Berlin, Brooklyn, South America and Stockholm, to name a few, with its walls so flourished, imbued and flushed with culture, it is almost impossible to imagine them otherwise. These street galleries remove the idea of privilege and preserve the democracy of art through its subtle commentary, mastery in skill and fierce anarchic spirit — just like art is supposed to be.