As Melbourne emerges from its long COVID experience, Christos Linou is ready to help restore the city’s artistic edge for which it is famous.
“Post-COVID Melbourne seems a soft and calm place. He is in a state of recovery. Many have lost their jobs. If people come up with an idea, they’ll do it. Hopefully it will move away from just making a lot of money from art,” Linou told Neos Kosmos.
He will play his part in kick-starting Melbourne’s artistic life at the Melbourne Art Book Fair (18-27 March) to be held at the National Gallery of Victoria’s Great Hall. He will unveil his second book Polis Politic: the street of guerrilla art which looks at street art from a number of cities, including Melbourne and Athens, (New York, Paris and Berlin are the other cities). His first book dates from the 2020s Jack Linou: the art of an outsider.
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polished is the culmination of 10 years of traveling to these cities where he photographed their street art and channeled the results into the book. He will also unveil another book on street art: Melbourne Street Art: 2009 – 2022. He will also present Guerilla Opera.
He said street art was part of the ‘anything goes’ guerrilla art movement that began in the UK in the 1970s.
“It’s about making a statement and if it’s done artistically and with color it becomes street art – otherwise the graffiti can be seen as vandalism,” he said. declared.
True to the guerrilla art theme of his published work, Linou will also provide an innovative performance of trance painting, guerrilla operain collaboration with opera singer Hemi Titokowarou at Hoiser Lane, next to the Forum Theater on Flinders Street, at 3pm on March 18.
“As part of the performance, I will paint my body with glue and take pages from my book to cover my body and stick them on the walls,” Linou said. Through the performance, the book itself becomes part of the street art it depicts.
“The street is a free art gallery. In the 1980s, street art was seen as vandalism, today it is part of the cultural hub of a city. There are even fold-out brochures showing where to go in Melbourne to see them.
“My book is about why they (street artists) do what they do and why do they think they have to? There seems to be a crisis in the protest. There are flashpoints where people express things against fascism, police brutality etc. In the past, people used to take to the streets in their thousands to protest.
“Why are people protesting in public spaces? The answer is that governments and big organizations/corporations don’t really care about them.
He said he found Athens to have the best street art he had seen and praised the work of the Political Stencil Crew of Athens, whose members he met, although he said some parts of the city, including the Academy of Art, had been defaced with graffiti and slogans.
“Seeing beautiful columns destroyed by graffiti is disrespectful. Tagging a name multiple times on a building is vandalism. It is hooliganism, a “rebel without a cause” out of frustration. It’s a street risk that there’s someone tagging street art,” Linou said. He made connections to ancient Greece and Rome when protests were often scratched on public walls.
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He is finishing a third book specifically dedicated to Melbourne street art and he has other projects in mind including writing his doctorate.
“I come from performance art but now I write too. I continue to train for performance. I don’t have a “job” but I do a lot of work. The concept art is there and becoming acceptable after 10 years – I used to be able to teach all over Melbourne, but that’s gone.
“I am an art creator rather than an artist, I develop work that keeps you going.
He said arts funding went to young, emerging artists, but that support was no longer available to established artists.
“We are a country of ideas and not of production. We are a thinking nation,” Linou said.
♦ Polis Politic: the street of guerrilla art and Melbourne Street Art: 2009 – 2022 are published by Linou Press and will be available at the NGV Melbourne Art Book Fair and also via the link of the Linou Press website.