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108 - Supermassive Black Hole

Words:

Edd Norval
September 4, 2020

Graffiti is abstract in its own self-referential way, working within styles that are pre-existing that deviate from letters as we recognise them. Muralism is usually more visually formal, most often sticking faithfully to the depiction of its subject. 108 - the Italian street artist whose name itself is an entire abstraction of what we come to think of as identity, retains continuity in his creative process, painting indistinguishable forms that make no immediate sense, yet remain both formal and abstracted.

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This isn’t meant in a bad way either. Making sense is something that seems to have little significance to the Alessandria native who became bored, even frustrated, with the repetition he saw so abundantly in the street art realm.


Inspired more by the post-industrial wasteland of his hometown’s multitude of abandoned buildings, 108 was able to work in a clandestine manner - hidden in plain sight - concocting various shapes and forms that functioned both in accordance to and in rejection of the urban environment that he came of age in.


Juxtaposing this kitchen-sink realism of the environment with the surrealistic black voids of his art, 108 played with sense of size, scale and perspective, immersing his audience in a style of art that - no matter where it was - felt out of place, an alien presence in amongst the routine of daily life, a subtle satire of the very rules that govern routine.

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Planting cosmic mystery and chaos in a nondescript environ acts as a direct challenge to the passers-by - most of who will be uninitiated in street art's lexicon. Whilst those with a trained eye will be perceptive enough to notice nuances, his manifest visions will be enough to halt other in their steps, momentarily transporting them from the banality of life as it can so often be experienced.


Navigating the Italian artist's works is like a riddle in and of itself, its shapes are devoid of enough context to pose greater questions. As humans, we inherently associate images with thoughts and memories and like a transformative Rorschach test, 108's unique blobs are the perfect barometer for our own creativity and imagination. With childlike awe we can gaze into their abyss as we would clouds in the sky, less concerned with the intention of their creator as we are the endless possibilities of our way of interpreting them.

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