Blu is the pseudonym of an Italian artist who conceals his real identity. He lives in Bologna and has been active in street art since 1999. Blu’s fame began in 1999, thanks to a series of illicit graffiti painted in the historical center and suburbs of Bologna, the capital of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. In the early years of his career his used spray paint but later Blu used house hold paint where he could paint larger murals.
March 2013 saw Blu paint this huge mural in Bologna inspired by lord of the rings.
A closer look you can see characters from Star Wars such as Storm troopers and Darth Vader, Sauron as Berlusconi and even human like trees fighting over the gold ring. This piece was painted for XM24 at Via Fioravanti 24, a space in Bologna which supports peace movements, vegetarianism and anti-fascism. This was the fourth time in 10 years that the façade of XM24 had been painted, when Blu painted this mural representing the impending threat of XM24 being demolished by construction. You can see on the right XM24 defending their ground and fighting the bulldozers with watermelons, representing a peaceful fight.
Fast forward three years to March 2016 and Blu and co. can be seen erasing this mural that ultimately withstood the threat of demolition. Why?
On March 18th 2016 an exhibition called Street Art: Banksy & Co. – L’Arte allo Stato Urbano will open in Bologna, Italy. It is promoted by Genus Bononiae, a cultural output of Fondazione Carisbo, ie the most important and powerful bank foundation in town. The project stems from the desire of Professor Fabio Roversi-Monaco, President of Genus Bononiae, and a group of experts in the field of street art, aiming to “recover and preserve” the murals to save them from any other threats of demolition and save them from the ravages of time. In other words take the art directly off the streets of Bologna and privatise and sell to unscripted collectors.
It certainly makes one question their incentives, as the powerful in Bologna have now criminalised graffiti as vandalism, arrested a 16 year old boy for spray painting and demolished the street art hubs the youth culture hung around… and now they want to save the art on the streets? Well this arrogance promoted a response and that was from Blu himself, who unwillingly features in the exhibition. Blu is erasing all the murals he painted in Bologna over the past 20 years, by painting over them in depressing grey paint.
“Act by subtraction, makes the looting impossible. The exhibit clears the way for the accumulation of street art, all for the benefit of ruthless collectors and merchants of stolen artwork. All this, in a city that on one hand prosecutes teenage writers and invokes street decorum, while on the other celebrates itself as the cradle of street art” Wu Ming blog GIAP explains
Blu always paints the truth and sometimes that hurts, especially now when all his murals in Bologna have been painted over, but if not erased they would have been sold to a private collector and Blu artwork exploited, so either way they would have been lost off the streets for good, at least this way the control has gone back to the artist that painted them on the streets… for the public to see… just not anymore in Bologna.
Photo credit Blu