Established 2009, Beast has produced more than 200 urban installations in more than 40 cities across Europe, United States and Japan. With his ironic and provocative collages, Beast deconstructs well-known faces of politics and the world of entertainment, recreating scenarios to the limit of veracity. His distinguished mash-ups, framed in gold and freely placed on the streets, have quickly attracted the attention of media, challenging the urban audience to question the truthfulness of the information, in a continuous play of references between the real world and the ideal world proposed by the artist. Beast brings new life to famous and other forgotten images in the photographic repertoire of our history, extending the horizons of street art in the folds between the political commentary and a sheer form of art. His true obsession for the icons of our time explores a variety of strategies to define the complexity of the political world, his “open-air galleries” promote an idea of democratic art, forcing the boundaries between the overwhelming vandalism and the urgency of the artistic expression. Beast transforms our streets into his own personal museum, a sincere homage offered to the city and its inhabitants through silent night-time interventions, returning to the early morning lights a humanized version of the indigenous reality.
Should artists steer clear of politics on the theory that engagement with social issues stifles the pure nature of art? The spectacular failure of that utopian question unleashed a darker, more active strain of politically oriented art that aimed to expose the corruption and injustice of real societies. The debate over the role of politics in art continues today in conflicts between defenders of quality and proponents of critique. Beast lies somewhere in between these black and white views, far to assume a mantle of victimhood and to interpret the world through his own frustrations, he adopts a variety of strategies to address the complexities of the political world, exploring modes of persuasions that engage the audience’s emotions and intellect. Beast presents a deceptively friendly veneer behind which political supremacy and cultural dominance lurk. He is promoting the idea of a participatory democracy, trading culture as a collaborative process in which no distinction is made between fine art and mass media, he has no “home” but rather operates like a nomad, installing frames in disperate cities, from historic buildings to posters on the sides of buses. In particular, he is interested in forcing “elitist” art institutions to open they doors to a more diverse constituency and a more engaged set of political and social causes. Beast turns the street into a stage, using pre-existing structures as a template for his concerns, ranging from the banal to images that actively engage the specific history, community needs, or cultural memory of a particular population or neighborhood. With this gesture, he went some way toward restoring a forgotten history, his canvases reflect an identity formed through virtual contact with an idealized distant world. Beast recreates his images not to debunk them, but to pay what seems to be the sincerest homage, in the process giving back to the politics fractured, humanised version of its most cherished fiction.
By Christie Bailey | Street Art News
A distinctive soloist with a recognisable graphic signature, Beast merges this with a strong social and inclusive approach to his designs. Everything he does is out in the streets and nowhere is this more strongly expressed than in his hometown, Milan. “It is hard working convincing people that they’re not watching ads when looking at my frames in the streets” notes Beast. “But if you use an icon that can be understood in any language, like a gold frame, the translation is built in. That was really the beginning of the programme, and once the idea of the frames was accepted, I started producing.” Beast considers the street as an open canvas, working with urban environments, and transforming them to become a part of the city’s journey. It’s an engagement with the public realm that reflect what is happening presently. Beast’s images challenge the spectator’s ability to understand what is true and what can be considered plausible within an uninterrupted flow of images proposed by traditional media.The resulting artwork reminds us that our public spaces need to be places for dialogue, it interacts within the notion of the cityscape, and finds its meaning once an interaction with the passer-by takes place. What Beast has been working in recent years, is reappropriating the past. For him this means constantly picking over the archives. “I think the most important thing is my view of what the photographic archive is,” he explains, “I’ve never viewed it the archive as a museum or a closed chapter. To me it’s much more of a living document. My job is to go in there, pick up the stories, understand why they meant what they meant, and then bring that to life in a new way, or a way that celebrates it.” Working with processes of transformation and replacement, Beast’s role as an artist is that of a mediator. In his view art is not separate from politics, but coextensive with it, playing an indirect and auxiliary role in the mix of political movements. His actions opens up an “agonistic space” clearly identified as vital to the practice of public participation to democracy. Beast’s images are the opposite of news flashes, they are full of history’s irony, revealing the loudness of the half-truths. The role of his political subjects is about creating bridges of trust where people from different political views can come together. Working with his “open air” galleries, Beast subtly changes the city streets to create a dialogue and interplay between the habitat and our experience of it. He shifts the spotlight from the museum work to the immediate accessibility of the artefact, the images take ownership and manipulate city spaces, opening new relationships with daily familiarity. The end result carries conversations, becoming a fragment of the ever changing city’s history.
By Jasmine Lark | Widewalls
Art Nordic Exhibition – Copenhagen, Denmark – April 2018
Art Cologne Fair – Cologne, Germany – April 2018
The Lowbrow Chronicles Solo Exhibition – Lyon, France – April 2018
The Lowbrow Chronicles Solo Exhibition – Berlin, Germany – March 2018
Stroke Art Fair – Munich, Germany – Oct 2017
Bond Solo Exhibition – Milan, Italy – July 2017
Public Art Festival 2017 – Athens, Greece – June 2017
Oxford International Art Fair – Oxford, Uk – February 2017
H Views Politics in Art – Zurich, Switzerland – November 2016
Grenoble Street Art Festival – Grenoble, France – June 2016
Dream Factory Solo Exhibition – Milan, Italy – June 2016
Tokyo International Art Fair – Tokyo, Japan – May 2016
Cologne Cityleaks Urban Festival – Cologne, Germany – Sept 2015