The project POLI Urban Colors has seen it at work, on the inner and adjacent walls to the Campus Bovisa-Durando of Politecnico di Milano, 2501, Luca Barcellona, Rancy and Zedz.
Alongside them were 20 Politecnico students, selected from a call, who got the opportunity to assist them and take advantage of a valuable training experience, and to create either a personal or collective work.
Brushstroke by brushstroke and with blasts of spray paint, they created context specific works, in dialogue with the visual identity and cultural horizon of the academic environment. This year, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, artists have dedicated numerous tributes and quotes around campus to the universal genius of the Renaissance. His painting and drawings, and his thought and teachings are re-emerging reinterpreted and contextualised in many of the works that have been created.
Luca Barcellona, one of the most respected calligraphers on the international scene, transforms a blunt and disarming phrase attributed to Leonardo into art: “We are all exiles within the frames of a strange picture. Whoever knows this, live well. The others are insects”. The work offers an opportunity for deep reflection, reminding himself and any observer of the importance of becoming aware of one’s own role and talent, honouring them as much as possible. The writing style used is a sum of the personal experiences of the artist within the limitless framework of letters: there are classical forms of majestic capitals, deformed by graffiti artists dedicated to the study of more extreme interlocking, and the dry and decisive strokes of the Italian movie poster designers of the 1970s.
Rancy’s work, “Divina Proportione”, alludes to one of the illustrations that Leonardo did for Fra’ Luca Pacioli’s book. The empty icosahedron, which reflects perfection and divine harmony, seems illuminated and three-dimensional. A casing evoking man, which contains three spheres painted in primary colours – green for the mind, blue for the soul, red for the spirit – seems to emerge from the artist’s tag patterns which evoke acomposition between the Hartmann and Curry grids used in bio-architecture and ancient buildings.
Inspired by the approach to the letter in writing and graphic font design, 2501 creates “Top Bottom (slash) Fake font Design”. Painted in his distinctive style, the alphabetical signs come apart and develop in the pictorial space in a process of reacting to the architecture and context. The work, shaping the wall with rhythm and impressions of movement, offers the observer new paths for vision and imagination.
“The geometric abstract space”, the work created by Zedz, a Dutch urban artist, multidisciplinary artist and designer, is a reflection on architecture and industrial progress expressed and painted on a flat surface in public space. The imposing mural does not simply aim to decorate the wall of a building, but rather to involve and make the passerby and spectator an integral part of the work of art itself.
The POLI Urban Colors project, curated by Luca Mayr and co-curated by Andrea Gasparro, was created in collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano and sponsored by the City of Milan and Municipality 9.