Art Outside the Galleries

By Anja Ivic

Interesting examples of street art are everywhere around us, but what does it really take to occupy our attention? Ever since the first street art festivals and the Banksy madness, street art has evolved into a separate art field worthy of attention. After having a rather serious problem with ‘tags’ (names, signatures) all over a large number of cities, Croatian street art became more refined with the establishment of a few street art festivals. Although it is considered that street art somehow evolved from tagging, it wasn’t very welcome on the medieval walls of cities. The ‘Museum of Street Art’ (Muzej ulične umjetnosti) is the name of an exhibition that opens every year in August and in 2015 there was a big collective exhibition of street art in one of the finest and oldest government owned galleries in Zagreb (Galerija Klovićevi dvori), placed in a building which was once a part of a Jesuit convent. In addition, the summer street art festivals enjoy a great number of visitors, regardless of them being on the coast or on the islands (like for example ‘Graffiti na gradele’ in Bol, island of Brač). Also, most of the festivals are placed on the same location every year and the artists decorate the same wall, the art is updated yearly. These various activities have decreased insufficient tagging as they offered street artists a platform where they can exhibit their work and therefore, improve. However, the initiative to turn street art into interesting pieces of public decoration still comes from active individuals and it is not strange for some works to be destroyed over night. The Croatian street artist Lonac (meaning ‘pot’ in Croatian) made an ideal eye-catching street art piece in which he merged street art with animation named ‘heArtbeats’.

Placed in Zagreb (Croatia), Lonac, having in mind the upcoming Valentine’s day, coloured the pipes on the walls and painted a monumental realistic heart, both freehand using only spray. He coloured the first pipe, photographed it and then coloured the other one, in order to have a moving motion as a final result. Finally, the short animation posted online shows a heartbeat. The piece turned into a hit and earned a large number of likes and shares on his Facebook page, once again proving Lonac as one of the most imaginative Croatian street artists of the time. The piece also appeared on the Instagram profile ‘love.watts’, an interesting profile consisting of examples of new contemporary art. Lonac graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts and has no fear of experimenting with more artistic media. In an interview he states that he ‘uses stereotypical iconography... but develops his own symbolism in his works’. And true, Lonac developed his own specific style that can be attributed only to him, but stayed linked to the local iconography with which people can correspond to. His street art includes portraits, vegetable and animal motifs, robots, superheroes... all in monumental dimensions and with clear, bright colouring. 

The manner of his painting is highly, if not even hyper-realistic, and when combined with the monumental dimensions, his work leaves us in certain admiration. Lonac’s point is that street art can brighten up people’s everyday lives if it is intelligent and interesting. His cheerful art is placed on many walls, but on walls outside the galleries. That enables Lonac to have a direct contact with the viewers, e.g., the audience, and to maximize the effect of his work. Also, planning hit concepts is a great part of the final success of the work. The work ‘heArtbeats’ is also a part of a greater project which Lonac will hopefully present soon on concrete canvases of the Croatian capital.