Born in England's industrial north, Mobstr has created most of his most iconic pieces in London. It's in this city, full of 6 million voices, that he chose to make his heard. He has done so with deeply meditative, thoughtful and humourous interplays with the city, its government and its people.
The piece featured in the video above is entitled The Curious Frontier of Red and is one of street art's most patient and funny entries. The story started when Mobstr noticed the wall after cycling past it on his way to and from work for a long time. The red space, when covered in graffiti, would be painted over. The naked brick space would be pressure-washed clean.
So began the 'experiment'. He'd paint words in the red area and then on the bricks. It was almost a challenge for the local council to see how they'd deal with it. Would one ever be more creative than the other?
The result was a back-and-forth that lasted for around one year. It wasn't just noticed by the council and artist though, passersby would also be able to watch the slow-burning battle of wills manifest. The trump card came when the council had had enough. They painted the whole wall red. That game was over.
Humour, although crucial to his work, is not the main voice. That rather belongs to someone with a profound understanding of life, or at least with a voracious curiosity towards understanding it. It's this journey towards understanding that is the fertile ground where many of his ideas are born. In an incredibly intimate text on his website, he looks at the world though hopes, ideas and contradictions.
I am not a typographer. I am not an artist. I am simply a guy who thinks too much. I am an antagonist. I question everything. I disassemble what is around me. I try to twist it, undermine it, subvert it. There is no future in my existence. I am a positive nihilist. I love what I do and I exist for that purpose. The concept of reality terrifies and excites me. I am baffled by those who do not spend a considerable portion of their life questioning it. I realise what I do is as meaningless as the rest of it, yet I still persist and I am content.
Art seems to be the vehicle, rather than the destination, for Mobstr. Many artists will create work in opposition to advertising. It's a way to 'stick it to the man', whilst still selling an idea and a brand. The irony is lost on many, but not Mobstr. His appropriation and reconfiguration of advertising spaces seems to take shot at every party involved - the artist, advertiser and the blind faith of their customers.
When he writes, 'A WALL + A THOUGHT = AN ART PIECE' on various facades, it's safe to surmise that the target of his art isn't us, or 'them', rather it's other artists. He's resisted 'sticking it to the man' and instead stuck it to the people that seem to feel they're doing that. Artists often believe that their voice is worth listening to, purely because they've made it public viewing. Mobstr doesn't appear to approve of the idea that the loudest voice at the party deserves to be heard.
He seems to revel in subversive messages, deriding widely accepted or agreed upon opinions and viewpoints. Popular culture often takes a hit and it's not so much the people that create it, but the people who mindlessly consume.
There may not be an overriding message in his work, but there's definitely a sentiment that fits everything, summed up in his manifesto - don't let life pass you by, think about it, evaluate it and engage with it. Like he said, he's a 'positive nihilist'. Everything can seem pointless, but only if you let it be.
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