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STRØK - Free As A Bird In Flight

Words:

Edd Norval
September 4, 2019

Born in Norway, STRØK is mainly based in the street art mecca of Berlin, creating his optical illusions of people in places they shouldn't be, defying the conventions of physics that govern our natural world. In doing so, we are given a fresh perspective of the human form and the built world that we inhabit.

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Anders Gjennestad, who creates his art as STRØK, often covers entire facades in his portraits, in forms that never make clear whether they are climbing, falling or moving on the surface. Utilising shadow to great effect, the art almost appears as an optical illusion - certainly, it challenges our perspective on what is land, what is air and how we'd exist without gravity buffering the two.


In the film Inception, we can see the world folding in on itself, with terra firma soon becoming a large vertical face. Walkways jut out in front of us, injecting the cityscape with an air of unpredictability and unreality. It's exactly this feeling that we experience when looking at STRØK's pieces. They challenge our perception and in turn, make us challenge what we see around us and what it is we think we know.


That the figures are photorealistically depicted causes us to umm and err, provoking moments of cognitive dissonance that require us to blink, turn around and take another look to confirm what it is that we've seen. Although challenging, it's also freeing. The figures aren't bound in the same way that we are. It's as if the whole world has been shifted, and that we are looking down at them from a birds eye view - setting us free too.

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Where the pieces live is almost as important as their context. For the full desired effect, there must be a juxtaposition between the mundane and normalcy of reality, and the illusion of his works. Illusions often hang in a crucial balance of psychological factors that being without, would mean losing much of their efficacy.


The architecture is a key attribute to STRØK's art and the process of his concept involves scouting for the correct place, or the kind of place that sets off an idea. To do so, he becomes almost a flaneur, roaming the cities he is currently in to find somewhere that makes sense. These might give him an idea, or just contribute to the complete of one that's already formed in his mind.


In the moments when the two collide - subject and location - this spark must be transferred to us, the audience, in order to manifest fully the illusory nature of his art. In many ways, STRØK operates as the greatest magicians do, leaving absolutely nothing to chance in order to most flawlessly transfer ideas and feelings.

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Then there's the materials used in his art. STRØK considers how they will interact with the surroundings, how they will age and become a part of the city's discourse. Further emphasising the dissolution of a border between artist and audience is the artist's refusal to sign his work.


Having an anonymous presence on the walls, it has no ownership, therefore, it subsequently belongs to everyone. What might seem a minute detail, it is in fact a major part of it. Instead of emphasising that it is a creative work, it dissolves this notion entirely and states that it is here - with no other context - and that its meaning and sentiment is to be experienced and decoded without any superfluous details.


STRØK redefines the wall, using it not as a vertical plane, but a surface whereby to depict ideas - regardless of it being a rusted sheet of metal, a crumbling wall, or decaying barn door. STRØK is a genre-defining street artist, reimagining what street art can be, and even deconstructing the very term - exploring what exactly is means to create art - untagged - on a street for everyone's consumption.

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