Graffiti artists spray-paint Istanbul

ISTANBUL –  What happens when you give 22 of the best graffiti artists in the world some paint and three floors of empty wall space? The results can be seen at Istanbul's Pera museum from Tuesday through to October 5. 

Stepping into each room the visitor is assaulted by a riot of colour and intensity. Curator, 29-year-old Roxane Ayral who lived in France for 13 years said she was inspired by graffiti artists there. Ayral wanted to bring to Istanbul the concept of graffiti as self expression, where it has been labelled 'political art' since the 80's.

As well as being given the freedom to paint Begolu's Pera musuem walls, the artists were allowed free rein to paint what they like at eight different parts of Istanbul’s Beyoglu and Besiktas districts - visitors to the museum are given a map so they can visit the sites if they want to. 

One of the graffiti artists, Fernando Carlo, 46-year-old New Yorker, who also goes by the nickname of 'Cope 2' says he wanted to bring a flavour of what he has been doing on the streets of New York for the past 35 years; “I wanted to bring it to the people in Istanbul so they can see this is what we did in the early 80s. This is how it started,” he said. Graffiti art took off in New York in the 70's and is recognised as the birthplace of the art form. 

Turkish graffiti artists, 26-year-old Atakan “Funk” Ozdemir and 33-year-old TabOne have opposing styles but work together. Ozdemir says his style is ‘new school’ and futuristic while TabOne’s style is classic. “It is nice to see two different styles together,” they say. 

TabOne also point out the difficulties of working in Istanbul; “There is a political fear of everything in Turkey,” he says adding, “That’s why it is more difficult to work in Istanbul.”

Visitors to the museum will be able to see works by graffiti artists - known by their nicknames of; Futura, Carlos Mare, Turbo, Wyne, Jon0ne, Tilt, Mist, Psyckoze, Craig Costello (aka KR), Herakut, Logan Hicks, C215, Suiko, Evol, Gaia, Tabone, Funk and No More Lies.  They come from U.S., Germany, France, Japan and Turkey.

From what was once an underground subversive art movement in the 70's, graffiti has become mainstream with artists like Britain's Banksy being able to command five figure sums for their work.

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