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Leon Keer - 'Don't Look Down'

Words:

Edd Norval
July 20, 2018

It's one thing seeing them in photographs, but something entirely different to actually walk past one. Even if you don't have an abject fear of heights, Leon Keer's anamorphic 3D art, painted on streets all over the world, is sure to make your knees knock together.

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Some of his works are very novel - they display his unique technique and given an insight into the prospect of alternative perspectives. The first one is this - the works aren't something you look at, rather something you experience. Although it's a semi-permanent drawing, it's got the effect of an installation. That's only some of his work though. A lot of his other work tackles lofty issues such as inter-religious relations and many environmental issues like the accelerated degradation of natural landmarks and formations (due in large part to human behaviour).


Keer is a Dutch pop-surrealist, born in Utrecht, yet having stunned passersby the world over. His anamorphic paintings are optical illusions that unfold in real-time for people willing to take the time to watch him at work. There is something undeniably magical about them. Seeing the whole process is infinitely interesting, and still incredible - but it does mean that the sense of vertigo is slower to wash itself over you.


Continually evolving, Keer maintains an exploratory approach to art, making sure not to be pigeonholed as the guy that can do these crazy street drawings. His work spans mixed media, installation and street work. This means it is hard to call Keer a street artist, beside the obvious fact that his work is actually created on the street. The studio also plays a large part in his process. The medium, or the means, is not his main concern - it's all about the concept and reaching that by whatever medium or means it requires. For Keer, the concept is king.

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Keer is intrigued by people. When he creates his work outside, he does so without music, relying instead on the sounds of life itself - cars, kids, mobile phone conversations and the chitter-chatter of curious onlookers. Likewise, when he visits new cities and places, it's the local bar that attracts him. Not just for the beer, but also for the stories, myths and tales that are woven in such a well-honed and intimate way. The kind of tales that you'd only ever find in a bar. When tongues get loose, out comes the truth. It is this truth that Keer angles to make shine through in his pieces.


His influences can be seen in most of his work. 'The Godfather of Street Art' Ron English clearly informs his infatuation with colourful and contemporary cultural artefacts - namely the Lego figures that feature heavily in his work. There's also the Argentinian Leandro Erlich, best known for his swimming pool that allows the audience to walk under it, being submerged in an underwater reality. These artists often focus on perception, not just visually, but symbolically. Messages always feature in Keer's work - sometimes they're just more clearly laid out than in others - requiring instead that the audience give it a bit of though.


It seems that Keer will continue to work with more experimental forms, building his own unique visual language and creating his own artistic memories and concepts, limited only by the capabilities of technology and his imagination - both of which seem to be developing at a very exciting pace. Keer's artwork is different to many others on the street in that, without creating something tangible (certainly not something to push, pull or grab) he still creates something immersive. It's a shock of perception for people - something that they are never quick to forget.

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