Claudia Walde, best known as MadC, is a German graffiti artist that approaches muralism from a completely different perspective. Combining an academic art background with two decades spent creating street art, her pieces oscillate between abstract wildstyle and large-scale pictorial murals - often combining the two.
In her 700 Wall piece, named so after the 700m2 face that it covers on the train line from Berlin to Halle, words become weapons in a war where the past squares off against the future set against the backdrop of an urban and industrialised present.
Robots fire at galleon ships filled with various colours and iterations of her tags, whilst the shipyard in the back stacks layers and layers of the same thing on top of each other, as they would cargo containers. The scale itself is difficult to fathom, adding to the complexity of the operation - where detailed and shaded pictorial elements host her name in one of the world’s most iconic and important murals.
Her focus on calligraphic styles of graffiti is noteworthy in its progression from her abstracted (although not explicitly) take on wildstyle to the more recent lettering she has created which hones in more on the kinetic form and colour of a letter - and its composition in a word - as opposed to the technique involved.
In many of the murals that the German artist has produced over the last few years, the words are almost entirely obscured by the level of ‘zoom’ of the image, where the audience’s perspective is skewed and limited by what the artist wants us to see. When we look at these pieces, we see sharp shapes, interconnected, yet separate in the microcosmic universe of the wall.
Focussing on the movement and weight of the lettering, MadC emphasizes particular parts of particular forms through the opacity of their colouring - some standing out in vivid detail, before fading away into a barely visible stroke that gives the other characters space to flourish individually. Holding two different graphic design degrees from two different universities is testament both to her hunger to develop her craft, as well as the vast database of references she can employ.
Street art is as guilty as any other art form of falling into a rut of barely innovative replication - particularly when lettering, over figures, are the focus. Where MadC’s paintings stand out is in their dynamism. The letters always appear to be forming at full-pelt, betraying the careful nature of their application by flying across the wall, an interesting nod to the bare essentialist nature of the humble graffiti tag.
Emboldened by the core nature of graffiti, that what is left on the wall is all that really matters - not the process, nor the individual - we should view MadC’s work through that lens. It’s fast-paced, bright, dynamic and futuristic, yet steeped in the history of graffiti in its pre-street-art form. This is art for the sake of creating art. Actually, no. This is art for the love of it.
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