SchoolArts Magazine

January 2018

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 23 Urban Interventions JAV I E R D E R I B A C ATA L A N D E S I G N E R A N D V I S U A L A R T I S T L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G W hat does "urban renewal" mean to you? Does it conjure up visions of George-Eugène Hauss- mann's (1809–1891) massive rebuilding of Paris between 1853 and 1870? Or is it the dreams of Le Corbusier (1887–1965) to rebuild European cities in a more people-friendly fashion after World War I? How about the contemporary global mural movement which brings vibrant art to urban areas? In some cases, it is probably more helpful to think on a smaller scale. Additionally, there should be a more appropriate term for individual artists' attempts at introducing art into the urban environment with- out tearing down buildings or employing politically charged imagery. The designations "urban intervention" or "urban transformation" come to mind when view- ing the body of work of Catalan artist Javier de Riba. Reviving the Forgotten Using stencils and paint, de Riba transforms abandoned and neglected buildings with his designs. But unlike other contemporary street artists, he creates imita- tions of tile designs found in traditional Catalan archi- tecture, such as the architectural tile designs of famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). De Riba has used his artwork to embellish all types of derelict structures, including skateboard ramps and post – World War II (1939–1945) buildings found in European cities such as Barcelona, Tenerife, Vienna, and Budapest. De Riba's urban intervention project is named "Floors," partially inspired by the Catalan word "flors" (flow- ers), because flowers often grow between the floor tiles in abandoned buildings. He views the project as a way to revive otherwise forgotten buildings. His reimagined tile floors are an ode to mid-1800s tile factories, where hand-operated presses created the tiles. Javier's precisely stenciled paintings carefully reproduce the patterns, including imperfections and errors, that follow the cracks and uneven floors of abandoned buildings. Through his interventions, he adds life to empty places once filled with life as a tribute, of sorts, to these past lives. A Conscientious Artist Javier de Riba studied graphic design and works on com- mercial projects when not creating his urban interventions. He worked as an art director in the commercial world before co-founding Reskate Arts and Crafts Collective, a group that focuses on graphics as a way of fostering sustainability and awareness of the human condition in an urban setting. The Floors Project began during a festival in which Reskate was participating. The collective painted a run-down build - ing in Barcelona. Realizing that there were vintage tile floors in the building, they decided to mimic the pattern. Top: Javier painting the Break Floors Project installation in Barcelona. Watch the video at Bottom: Javier de Riba, Varnish. Images courtesy the artist.

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