Paul Curtis is a graffiti artist who uses dust and dirt (or rather, the lack of) to his advantage. Dirty walls as canvas, he selectively cleans off parts of the wall to reveal his messages in tunnels, floors and walls. It is controversial in some ways – is this a crime? While you can easily charge someone for spraying paint onto public walls, can you really charge people for cleaning up public spaces? If you do, does that mean that you can technically be charged for picking up banana skins off the floor? And sometimes, it is uplifting to see some surprise in the daily life – where people like Curtis leave behind an “Aha” moment and inspiration.
However, public “feel good” graffiti messages like the one shown above (Go Gently) isn’t just the only genre that Colev engages in. He accepts corporate assignments as well – for example, creating images of “X”s on the floor for Microsoft’s Xbox. While generally people are much more accomodating with the public message graffiti, patience runs thin much faster when yet another corporate marketing gimmick invades the already-plastered public domain. It does not help when the first line in their website removes all benefits of the doubt by defining the activity as “innovative forms of advertising”.
Personally, I’m delighted to see a creative means of expression that deviates from the routine – the dreary urban landscape do need some freshening-up. But when it encroaches into commercial exploits, please just leave my space – or rather, our space – alone.