Internationally acclaimed stencil artists to take part in Nuart Aberdeen

Internationally renowned stencil artists from Berlin, Oslo and London are among the first artists to be revealed for Nuart Aberdeen. Foundational to the ethos of Nuart, stencil art, as popularised by the likes of Banksy, is the form that kickstarted street art in the UK.

Anders Gjennestad aka Strøk (DE), The Dotmasters (UK) and Hama Woods (NO) will bring their unique slant on the medium to Aberdeen later this year.

This year Nuart Aberdeen will take a closer look at one of the foundational stones of street art culture, the art of cutting and spraying stencils. The festival, which is taking place from April 18 to 21, will bring together three artists spanning two generations and over 20 years of stencil art practice.

This is reflected from The Dotmaster’s early pieces on the streets of London to Berlin based Anders Gjennestad’s gravity defying photorealist characters and on to the more playful contemporary work of Norway’s leading female street artist, Hama Woods.

Aberdeen’s own history of stencil art was explored in 2018 when Elki, responsible for one of the city’s earliest stencil works, still visible on Jopps Lane, was invited to produce work in both Aberdeen and twin city Stavanger. This year the tradition is continued, with the hope of not only producing a significant amount of new works, but to also act as a catalyst for producing new local artists.

Berlin based Anders Gjennestad aka Strøk, is an author of surreal visual poetry. An array of figures striding along the walls of buildings, casting long shadows is a trademark style of his. Images designed for the double-take, to upset our lazy gaze, accustomed to the empty and predictable. Strøk is a stencil artist that works both in a studio under his own name and on the city streets as Strøk.

Through a tear in reality the viewer gains a fleeting glimpse of other possibilities or possibilities of the “other,” physical and supernatural. Strøk’s characters are often juxtaposed and placed specifically against the ruination of factory walls, rusted metal and decaying plasterwork.

An intrinsic part of the early days of Nuart Festival, The Dotmasters has acted as producer, sometimes co-curator and artist at previous events. For this year’s edition of Nuart Aberdeen he returns under his The Dotmasters guise to create a series of street-based works that take a sideways look at populist media with a typical British sense of humour. The Dotmasters work can be found anywhere from trailer parks to the penthouses of the rich and famous. Additionally, his work has featured in both Banksy’s Cans Festival as well as his Oscar nominated feature film ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’.

Hama Woods is a stencil artist born 1981, based in Oslo, Norway. Her work demonstrates a reverence for nature and its immediate connection to humanity. In a search for methods to communicate the importance and revival of nature, Hama Woods stencils intuitively reflect and focus on a sociological approach to greed and human consumption and its direct effect on our natural environment. Her works are characterized by the use of hand cut, multi-layered stencils. Her hope is to empower and challenge viewers to rethink the choices they make which effect today and tomorrow.

In contrast to the important message the individual pieces bring to life, her art comes with a certainty of playfulness and joy; something that without a doubt will bring colour to the streets of Aberdeen.

Martyn Reed, Nuart director and curator, said: “The history of the stencil is tied intrinsically to the history of art, from early pigment blown handprints in the caves of Europe, to the arts and crafts movement of William Morris, the repetition of Warhol’s pop imagery to the more recent Banksy “Girl with Balloon”, a stencil voted the UK’s favourite work of art in 2018, a format still powerful enough to have The Guardian’s chief art critic Jonathan Jones, throw up his hands in horror at the idea. But finally, the wagon in John Constable’s pastoral scene The Hay Wain can make way for more contemporary fair and flair.

“It was seeing an early stencil of Banksy’s “Laugh Now”, a counterpoint to the regulated distribution of images, adverts and signs in public space that triggered Nuart’s initial shift to Street Art in 2003, a lifelong obsession followed and these three artists have become an intrinsic part of that history.”

Nuart Aberdeen is spearheaded by Aberdeen Inspired and Aberdeen City Council, with generous support from delivery partners Burness Paull and The McGinty’s Group.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “It is a privilege to announce the incredibly talented stencil artists that will be taking part in Nuart Aberdeen in April. Anders Gjennestad, The Dotmasters and Hama Woods are incredibly thought-provoking artists and we can’t wait to see their vision on the walls of our city. Both the Nuart Festival team and Aberdeen Inspired have been working hard on preparations for the festival and we are looking forward to revealing more artists over the next few weeks.”

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson, added: “The addition of three inspiring artists to the 2019 programme is fantastic for the event and helps maintain the momentum that’s building towards April.

“Aberdeen City Council is proud to support Nuart Aberdeen and underline our commitment to what is a vibrant and exciting part of our events calendar.”

Tricia Walker, partner at Burness Paull, said: “The excitement around Nuart 2019 just keeps ramping up.The latest programme confirmations highlight the quality and stature of the artists that will be coming to work in Aberdeen; all bringing something truly different to the festival. I’m sure residents and visitors alike will be looking forward to seeing their art come to life across the city.”

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