Urban artist Brad Downey has been in Vienna working on a small section of the city’s Graffiti Wall of Fame. But rather than painting on the wall, which has been something of a mecca for graffiti artists for the last 15 years with layer upon layer of paint and image built up over time – Downey has been excavating, digging through the layers, revealing bit by bit what lies underneath…
The above film, entitled Searching For Something Concrete (film made by Marie Rømer Westh), was Downey’s contribution to the Blk River Festival in Vienna. Downey worked with art restorer Magdalena Recova on a small section of the wall, delicately removing one layer of paint at a time to reveal colours and imagery that has been hidden for weeks, months and years…
Here’s a film showing Downey and Recova at work on the wall:
Of course, by removing areas of paint from the wall, it could be said that Downey is destroying part of it, not restoring it.
“True, it’s kind of destructive,” Downey admits. “But for me it is important to unlock the illusion of two dimesional space. I mean I travel cities all the time and see the surfaces of walls just like this one get various layers,” he continues. “And I look at grey or painted walls all the time and remember [the art that] used to be there. I first wanted to see if using these techniques would work – it did, surprising well. And second, I wanted to have a kind of ‘nostalgic’ walk through the wall, even though I did not personally know this wall and the art that’s adorned it over the years.”
By his own admission, this piece of work is an experiment, a test. “I would really like to do a big wall but maybe get a hold of old photos of it and try and discover something specific. This [film] is a bit more abstract than I hope the future version will look.”
Watch this space!