At Fabrikaffiti in Tbilisi, Georgia last month, Italian street artist Millo painted a captivating piece that harnessed the power, validity and importance of dreams.
The piece features his usual monochromatic backdrop detailing a city, defined best by the skyscrapers that pierce through the sky. In amongst the mundanity of contemporary life is our protagonist, a female character standing dreamlike. Life seems to pause around her as she allows a moment of respite and tranquility to cross her face. As a branch grows from her chest, a symbol of growth and life, her hand nurtures the leaves. A dream has come true. In this moment she is happy.
His inspiration wasn't as much a person as it was the city that she featured in. Tbilisi is a place that has continued to grow and, despite its geographical distance from mainland Europe, has become a hotspot for tourists looking to venture a little further afield. They dared to dream big too. Like the character, the city also managed to break the mould and experience the bliss of things falling into place.
Contentment, perhaps more than happiness or sadness, is a rare feeling. It's skewed to one side of the place where we aren't feeling anything, rather just letting life pass. It's a thin line that, if captured, can lead to great things. Like the city's growth, it isn't manic. Rather it's comfortable with itself and makes the most of that.
Dreams seem to figure heavily in the creations of Francesco Camillo Giorgino, better known as Millo. The way he uses colour is very simple. The predominantly monochromatic background is a symbol of real-life - that is, the one we live. The colour comes from the active mind, the one that dares to dream and think bigger.
It's not just the girl. In another piece, Millo renders a shared ambition. Two figures support each other, one on the other's shoulders, to enable their building blocks (in colour) to be stacked higher than the surrounding buildings. It's a powerful image. You don't always have to go it alone.
It's no coincidence that he depicts buildings, nor that he paints on them. His first career path was architecture. During his time studying, he spent a lot of time dreaming of another life (see where this is going?) and, through his own sense of courage and self-belief, he was able to allow the idea to manifest into something special. His entry into the art-world was as natural as could be.
The images are both surreal and conversely grounded in a profound reality. They're a testament to the power of dreams, yet an indictment of those that fail to do so. In every piece there is a person and in every piece there is a city. It's their interaction that lies at the crux of the works. How they come together is everything.
The city is safety, routine, credit cards and traffic lights. It's order. It's also danger, protest, broken laws and live music. It's chaos. Sometimes his odd characters seem deeply oblivious to their surroundings, yet other times they're literally plugged in - absorbing the fast-moving surroundings.
Millo's work is impressive in the lack of variation. He doesn't change things up drastically, yet is somehow able to make everything feel fresh and new. Perhaps that's to do with the intricacies of the city or the depths of the human psyche. Until they run dry, he'll have a subject.
By choosing the path of consistency, rather than rapid experimentation, his murals seem like meditative semi-autobiographical musings into how different people cope with the same thing. Grief, routine, hopelessness and isolation are a few of the million things we feel. For each of those, we have a myriad of ways to deal with them. The busy city-life that surrounds his characters seems overwhelming, as if the characters are feeling all of those things to varying degrees at once. Some of them choose to join the rat-race, others choose to be blissfully unaware. We're always left with something to think about - which one is us? Why aren't we the other?
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