There is one art-form that has recently gained mainstream recognition. Until recently it was regarded as a public eyesore . This is the art-from of Graffiti Art – which started to emerge in the 1970s. It started off as a form of protest art in U.S.A. inner cities Underprivileged youths in America used graffiti art as a means of expressing their frustrations, dreams and aspirations. Due to limited resources the youths used street walls and subway trains as murals to express their art. At first graffiti art wasn’t regarded art but rather as acts of public vandalism or worse a menace to society. Today this view appears ot have changed, as graffiti continues to gain mainstream acceptance. Extraordinary murals can be found being exhibited in major galleries around the world. A question that some people ask is: How did graffiti art make the trip from inner city streets to the Art Galleries?
The fact is that some of the major collectors are people who were born and grew up in the inner cities and have made it big. For them graffiti art is an art-form they can relate to, as it tells the story of their lives and gives a constant visual reminder of where they came from. Other collectors are urban professionals who use the subway often; due to the daily exposure these professional began to appreciate the new graffiti as an art form. The moral of the story is that people wear different looking glasses, and it’s easier for people to relate and appreciate things that have a direct bearing to their lives.
When graffiti art first came to prominence, few people took it seriously. It took the next generation to understand and appreciate the meanings behind graffiti art. These collectors view graffiti art through a different pair of looking glasses. When graffiti artists started off, they did not seek to replicate traditional art-forms, instead they sought to express an art-form in which they could tell their own stories, and express their feelings clearly.
I recently had a debate about Zimbabwean art, and could clearly see that some people were judging Zimbabwean Art unfairly. Zimbabwean artists use their art to express their own stories of things they have seen and experienced in their lives, for one to suggest that Zimbabwean artists use another measure and standard would result in destroying the artists creativity and the destruction of their rich culture and heritage which has survived many centuries.
Like graffiti art - which has its critics - Zimbabwean art is fast gaining mainstream appreciation, and as a number of new collectors enter the market, prices for the finest pieces continue to rise. Art has always evolved with new mediums and art-forms; the quest of any artist is to produce work which is unique, different and thought-provoking. The only suggestion I can make to artists is that they keep on upping their game, and always aim to create something which is out of the ordinary. I will never try to influence my artists by setting measures and standards on what their art should look like, rather I believe that true Art collectors have their own distinct taste and preference.