Graffiti: Vandalism, art or identity? SA street artist challenges the art world with his work

Graffiti: Vandalism, art or identity? SA street artist challenges the art world with his work

- Mars is a street artist from Johannesburg, who is breaking barriers in the art world

- He was named as the Best Graffiti Artist at the South African Hip Hop Awards in 2013 and 2015

- He sees graffiti as a way to express his identity, not just as art

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South African street artist, Mars, has been spraying graffiti on walls, bridges and train carriages for over a decade.

His work is now displayed alongside fine art in galleries, and raved about by art enthusiasts. While some artistically inclined people try to find the deeper meaning behind his work, Mars encourages them to simply acknowledge that graffiti is also art.

Mars’ work remains grounded in the streets, where graffiti is an authentic expression of counterculture.

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Briefly.co.za learned he started out spraying designs onto public buildings as a skateboarding teenager, skating the edge of danger instead of creating art.

At the age of 15, he started creating under the alias Mars – the first word that came to mind after spraying a figure of an alien on a wall.

Mars was named Best Graffiti Artist at the South African Hip Hop Awards in 2013 and again in 2015. He has since worked as a graphic designer while also creating commissioned pieces.

While street art has become popular commercially, everyday spraying and tagging remains illegal and is considered defacement.

Mars' 2013 debut solo show, From The Ground Up, brought the nitty-gritty of South African graffiti – its humble beginnings, associated culture and evolution – to audiences accustomed to fine art.

Mars’ work challenged them to see that graffiti was not just vandalism, and it's more than just art. For street artists, it embodies their identity, their claim to belonging in a space.

Mars’ commitment to the authentic beginnings of street art is driving him to new heights within art circles and in the streets of South Africa.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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