Words: Alexia Petsinis
In a climate of global turbulence that has caused widespread havoc in the realm of art and culture, Spanish Urban Art duo PichiAvo have made their first trip Downunder, completing a major commission for Melbourne’s Hellenic Museum. Indeed, it may seem like a strange time to travel across the world to share their highly esteemed creative practice with Australians, but this injection of colour, culture and creative energy serves as the ultimate source of inspiration at a time when we’re all isolated at home.
From art galleries in Valencia to building facades in Berlin, PichiAvo’s work ignites the curiosities of countless fans and followers, no matter where it pops up in the world. Fusing Classical and Urban Art in compositions exploding with colour, movement and narrative, PichiAvo’s projects are impossible to miss, causing a stir on social media whenever they are spotted. Their most recent project Renegades at Melbourne’s Hellenic Museum is no exception. The series of compositions prominently displayed on the Museum’s front lawn recasts the stories of three women from Greek Mythology – Medusa, Phryne and Hippolita – celebrating each as a beacon of strength and power.
“Someone called our style Urban Mythology. We like the idea of mixing something very street and temporary as graffiti, with something fine and eternal and Classical mythology,” Pichi reflects. “We studied arts and we have always been fascinated by both styles. We hope our work can be a new approach to Classical art and mythology for the public.”
Street art and graffiti documenter and commentator Dean Sunshine observes that the power of PichiAvo’s success as an Urban Art enterprise comes down to the fact that their style incorporates both portraiture and graffiti, giving it universal appeal as a social and culturally expressive medium that has evolved over time.
“In the early days when art started appearing on the streets, often the subject matter was political. These days with street art being the biggest global art movement in history, you will often see large murals with incredible photo-realistic portraits, geometric or abstract murals that can take your breath away” notes Sunshine. “PichiAvo’s style is a clash of historical Greek Mythology and colourful graffiti that is very unique and works on both large scale and small.”
With invitations to collaborate and exhibit all over the world, PichiAvo continue to intrigue diverse viewers, from curious pedestrians to luxury fashion houses. A quick scroll through their Instagram feed transports you around the world, with documentary and extensive visual footage of each project capturing the unique characteristics of the city each work calls home. Every gallery wall, shopfront and building is transformed by the interplay between past and present, colour and form, and the mixing of cultures through the boundless energy of PichiAvo’s paintbrush.
“At this moment, fashion brands are totally into streetwear, just as the art world is into street art. We think this combination works very well. Brands and advertising seek inspiration everywhere, it seems like urban art is a good source of inspiration for them,” shares Avo.
In 2018 the duo worked with Bulgari in creating a hero canvas composition that was introduced in Rome, serving as the image for the luxury jewellery house’s Wild Pop collection. They also have two other upcoming collaborations with luxury fashion brands, set to be revealed later this year.
While social and digital media have been essential for artists, galleries and institutions to keep their communities engaged during a time of global lockdown, art – whether interior or exterior – will be celebrated as a force of connection and communication more so than ever once the present storm subsides. As Sunshine reflects:
“Nowadays you can see every single piece of work from anywhere in the world, as soon as it’s finished, without even getting up from the couch. Which is incredibly convenient, but I also think that people view the image for such a short time, sometimes the artwork is not given enough appreciation,” he says. “Personally, I still think it’s super important to go and see the actual work on the street, where you can view it within its context and surroundings.”
As part of the Hellenic Museum’s permanent collection, PichiAvo’s Renegades must be viewed in person; a powerful and immersive encounter offering viewers of all ages, races and genders messages of strength, courage and the power of imagination. It is a series Australia is fortunate to call its own.
‘We try to make the viewer feel something when they stand in front of our works, the experience for us is the most important part,’ share the duo.
Keep up to date with PichiAvo and the Hellenic Museum