There isn’t a Graffiti Writer I know who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to paint up a whole building. That is the kind of commission we dream about. Hell, some of us might even pray for this type of wall: large, very public, high-profile, owned by the type of free spirited free thinking free-ky people who are ultimately going to save the planet, “one cappuccino at a time”. They would have to be that type of human, to turn to an artist like me and say “The cafe needs a new coat of paint. Go nuts.”
CORNER CAFE, 197 Brand Road, Glenwood, Durban. Owned and run and sweated over and loved in and grown and nurtured and built and created by Judd and Jeannie Cambell, and directly tied into the type of forward momentum that has this neighborhood cutting edges in the cityscape. CORNER CAFE, legendary new-school coffee shop and playground of both the culturally inclined and contemporary kind of customer, all mixed up and sipping from the same simple cup of award winning coffee. This place is so “the shit” that it doesn’t even have a sign or a name outside advertising it’s existence. It just exists. If you want to find it, you will look for it, and it will be there, every time.
From the day they opened doors, going on six years now, Judd has given me free reign to paint what I please when I please and where I please, as long as he doesn’t have to explain it in too much detail to anyone. He doesn’t do art or music. He does coffee and ideas.
So, I feel it necessary, my responsibility in fact, to weigh in on some subtle abuse he has been receiving through his kiff blog owing to my latest aerosol incarnation of his beloved joint. It goes like this:
Judd get’s an email saying “what\’s with those gross \”paintings\” on the walls? nothing fresh and lovely about those – just dark and sinister”
Judd replies saying “U are going to have a super new year I can tell.”
The response “i certainly am – who would want to walk through a skull to go and have a cut of coffee? obviously people not thinking”
And this is where I come in, as it is obviously in reference to the collaboration between myself and Dutch Street Artist GIJS VAN HEE (www.gijsvanhee.be) that manifested in the way the walls are looking right now:
I’m not going to get too deep into this here. The project was as organic as Judd’s coffee, with no set theme or concept, just and evolving mix of two different styles, resulting in a highly stylized graphic mural that combines elements of comic book fantasy and futuristic sci-fi planet loving design. Gijs has a signature style that I thought would sit sweetly on the walls of one of the most progressive cultural watering holes in the city. I was super stoked when he contacted me saying he would be in town and was looking to paint. I immediately pitched him to Judd who thought about it for about the time it takes to froth milk and then said “Go nuts”. Nuts we went:
So now, the dude who spotted something sinister in our style sees a skull. Some people see an octopus. It might even be a lightbulb. Whatever. The wall is completely based on a street art aesthetic which means the concept and interpretation of the content is entirely dependent on the mood and mind-set of the member of the public who is playing the part of viewer. You might be able to see the Corner Coffee colored clouds. You might see the stump of the tree that almost got Judd crucified coz people thought he had killed it (until it grew back). You could even see the digital tentacles and cables that connect all of us who exist in the cafe culture world of new age ideas and old school pleasures. The point is, you will never see it all, and you will always see what you want to see.
My question then is: What kind of person a) sees a skull; b) sees a skull as negative or in this case sinister; c) translates colors like lime & camo green and images of clouds and trees and leaves as “dark” and “gross”; and d) spells “cup” “cut” and then ends by saying other people aren’t thinking?
Now, before we all jump to answers like a) someone who isn’t happy being stuck in their own skull; b) a grumpy close minded soul who is jealous that other people might be having more fun then them or c) just a grumpy victim of societies anxieties in general, let’s first remind ourselves that sometimes people are just not having a good day, and remember that when we are not having a good day, we get negative and start to see the sinister and dark side of things as well.
On those days we also might see more skulls then lightbulbs.
p.s. coffee will always get you through.