Muralism Through Time

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Muralism, intertwined with architecture, transcends walls to create the illusion of a new dimension. The ancient technique of fresco, a form of mural painting in which coloured pigments are applied to wet mortar, dates back to antiquity, resurfacing during the excavations at Pompeii and finding expression in regions such as India and China.

During the Renaissance, masters like Michelangelo revitalised frescoes, leaving an impressive legacy in the Sistine Chapel. Subsequently, in the 20th century, the technique experienced a vigorous resurgence, propelled by European avant-gardes such as fauvists and cubists.

However, it is in early 20th-century Mexico that the term ‘muralism’ takes root, thanks to a group of Mexican intellectual painters. These visionaries breathed life into an artistic expression in response to the Mexican Revolution, fueled by the intertwined complexities of the Great Depression and World War I. Eager for profound changes, they formulate radical demands, aspiring to a comprehensive revolution across social, political, and economic domains.

Graffiti, originating in the 1970s in the Bronx, New York, historically associated with conflicts, emerges as an urban artistic expression with vibrant colors and street language. Initially labeled as vandalism, graffiti and muralism are now vibrant testimonies to the dialogue between art and society, each with nuances and distinct purposes.

Currently, muralism, or neo-muralism, has emerged as a trend in urban arts. Facades transform into monumental canvases, creating true open-air museums accessible to all, regardless of cultural origin or social status. This monumental art represents an undeniable democratisation of culture and art, inviting everyone to freely participate in this visual spectacle.

As urban arts claim space in galleries, artists like Christian Boehmer transcend the boundaries between street and studio. His works, now integrated into museums and galleries, witness the transformative and expansive power of muralism, perpetuating its impact beyond the physical confines of streets and squares.

In 2021, Boehmer received an invitation to create a mural in Tbilisi, Georgia. However, a few months later, and just weeks before the scheduled painting, the Russian invasion of Ukraine occurred. Due to Georgia’s history with Russian invasions, Boehmer decided that the mural should not only reflect the cruelty of war but also convey a symbol of hope and peace. The artwork, initially conceived as a mural titled “But in the end, there will just be silence again,” was later recreated as an oil painting on cut wood and is now part of the Into.Gallery collection.

Exploring the essence of the human body, with a peculiar attention to gestures and body dynamics, Christian Boehmer focuses his concept in a unique way. The decision to conceal the human face transcends aesthetics, and the detailed and realistic works of art, called ‘Paper Bag Heads’, not only playfully challenge the tradition of the genre, but also instigate a profound discussion about identity, both individual and social.

Employing a wide variety of artistic media, such as coloured pencils, chalk and acrylic paint, Boehmer demonstrates an exceptional ability to balance fragility and strength in his works. His compositions not only captivate the viewer, but also generate a tangible tension between the characters depicted and the energetic sequence of elaborate movements.

Christian Boehmer currently works in two studios. The first, located in his hometown of Cologne, has witnessed approximately twelve years of his dedication, during which time he has built up a vast international network within the contemporary art scene. The second studio, opening in October 2019 at the DDC Factory in Schweinfurt, Bavaria, reflects his continued participation in the vibrant creative community.

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