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Art often pulls on our emotional strings, sometimes hard, sometimes softly, but it’s a rare occasion that our inner lyre should serve as the instrument for a symphony. Alias, a German street artist based in Berlin, has a gift of turning a visual work into the most touching harmony composed for the heart. Completely relying on the stencil technique to get his point across to the viewer, this creative’s stencil art pieces mainly present children and teenagers found in different states and forms. This is a relatively common theme in the street art realm, but what makes Alias’ stencils unique is the fact that he usually presents his subjects bewildered by harsh situations, confronted with terrifying issues. His portfolio is highly intimistic and focuses on one individual at a time, presenting us with their small, oftentimes tragic stories in a collective epic tale we call life.

Staying true to the stencil origins, Alias utilizes nothing but black and white hues in his compositions, accentuated with small touches of red color. This stylistic decision works really well when paired up with the themes and graphically designed figures this stencil creator is so fond of – heartbreaking scenes of a child riddled with bullets (Body Body Head) or a crying kid with a backpack, hiding his weeping face from the viewers. What makes this artist’s work so poignantly effective it the fact that our contemporary societies are full of similar scenes, despite the prevailing lifestyle of oblivious conformism. It’s easy to relate to and reflect on these subjects, as we reveal bits and pieces of ourselves within these emotional scenes. Alias’ interventions are layered with inner and reflective compassion, making use of the fact that all of us are wired to naturally react to injustice. Due to the tragedy-infused view of innocent victims, Alias art was often perceived as politically fueled but, in reality, it goes way beyond the political. Stencils created by Alias target the viewer directly and personally, acting as an instigation of analysis of self. Various tragedies, injustices inflicted upon the defenseless, feelings of loneliness and isolation are the means through which this street painter hopes to alter each state of mind individually. He deliberately targets our emotions and toys with them while cutting his stenciled design aiming to create a better world from the very within.

Isolation and Solitude in Alias Art

Further analysis of Alias art will inevitably lead to quiet introspection. The artist investigates how individuals are personally impacted and transformed when affected by their unfair environments. It’s interesting how he is able to depict his mistreated subjects in a way that they seem simultaneously mysterious and familiar to the viewer. Thus, Alias underlines his wall work with a fact that the existence of loneliness and personal crisis can be found everywhere, despite a widespread tendency to ignore these occurrences. The unfortunate reality of detachment is not a new concept within the visual arts, as there are numerous artists that have explored this phenomenon in their work. Conceptually, these pieces can be linked to the contemporary stencil art of Alias. One of the most prominent names we can correlate to the subject of loneliness is Edward Hopper. This American painter was a master of melancholy, having created numerous scenes of detached and isolated individuals drowning in their sorrow. Edvard Munch alluded to the idea of separation as well, usually by painting chilling portraits often produced in series. Andy Warhol used to share his views on isolation through his work as he felt a strong sense of detachment his entire life, something that naturally reflected heavily on his art. Pablo Picasso also had his say on the account over the years of his career – the legendary Spaniard tackled loneliness in quite a few paintings, highlighted by the famous Melancholy Woman created in 1902/3. All of these artists, including Alias, are masters of showing the irony of solitude inside a highly populated environment, depicting subjects detached from everyone around them, submerged by the weight of their problems, futilely gasping for air.

The Importance of the Location

Choosing where to place his artwork is an important decision for any street artist, but for Alias – this is a pivotal choice that can make or break a piece. Addressing a single viewer, without the desire to be commercial or reach a monumental scale, Alias chooses spots for his street work with great care. Discreet in measurements, his stencil art is likely to be found in obscure, isolated locations. The location of the piece is actually an integral part of Alias’ portfolio and he uses it as a spatial extension of his concept. By finding the perfect spot, the artist allows the stencil to reach the highest level of pathos. The crying boy is drowning in his tears where no one can see him, the shot child has been tucked away from prying eyes, a small praying girl seeks an intimate place for herself as she begs the sky for changes (Praying Girl). These original locations are as vital a part of the artwork’s identity, carried within each piece even after they are reproduced in a different setting. The search for the ideal location also plays a performative part of each stenciled soul, as a necessary preparatory phase of the creative act. This special relationship between the troubled subject and the abandoned site makes every Alias art piece site-specific, which is a quality rarely seen in street art today.

Materials Matter

Along with the location, the materials used as a backdrop for Alias’ art are just as important. The surface that serves as a canvas is another conceptual supplement for every piece. Scavenging for rusty old metal and other scrap material to use as a background, this Berlin-based author infuses each of his mobile works with the spirit of the original location. He discovers these materials himself, searching for disregarded plates and grits. He later assembles these recycled materials into usable surfaces through a collage-like method. Upon these rugged, decrepit materials, Alias executes his stencils immaculately, without any drips or errors that might be common for the medium. Such a flawlessly finished artwork placed on a rough layered surface creates as a metaphor of his wider concept inherently tied to the outdoors. Additionally, Alias’ art depicted on shabby surfaces makes a spectacular view when put in a gallery setting. By keeping the harsh materials of the street, the pieces are able to keep their primal identities and not find themselves compromised by the studio conditions. Consequently, Alias allows his poetics to expand beyond the street, while his miserable heroes are kept in their cruel realities, hopelessly striving towards something else. Brought closer to the viewers, the extent of unjustified neglecting depicted characters are exposed to becomes inescapable.
Considering the impeccable execution of Alias’ art, the well-rounded concept and the fact his expression works equally well in both outdoor and indoor ambient, it’s safe to conclude that works made by this artist are supreme examples of the postmodern nature of contemporary Urban Art movement.

Selected exhibitions

  • 2017 · Street Art / Inventory (Group Show) · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2016 · Group Show “Edition 1” · UrbanShit Gallery · Hamburg (Germany)
  • 2016 · Group Show “Love all Colors” · Dampkring Gallery · Amsterdam (Holland)
  • 2016 · Group Show “From Wall to Gallery” · Streetart Place · Gaeta (Italy)
  • 2016 · Solo Show “La Memoria delle cose dimenticate” · Memorie Urbane Streetart Festival · Basement Project Room · Fondi (Italy)
  • 2016 · Group Show “A Stencil Point of View” · GCA Gallery · Nice (France)
  • 2015 · Group Show “City Leaks” · 30works Gallery · Cologne (Germany)
  • 2015 · Group Show “Ausschnitte” · Urbanshit Gallery · Hamburg (Germany)
  • 2015 · Solo Show “Fragments” · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2014 · Group Show “Paper Works” · Open Walls Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2014 · Fragile Lives, Shattered Dreams (Solo) · Scarlett Gallery · Stockholm (Sweden)
  • 2014 · Group Show “Stencil Bastards #3” · Starkart Gallery · Zürich (Switzerland)
  • 2014 · Group Show “Collection” · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2014 · This is not Street Art · Hauz Khas Village · New Delhi (India)
  • 2013 · Group Show “Knoten” · Hamburg (Germany)
  • 2013 · Group Show “Dissidents” · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2012 · Solo Show “Alias #4” · Hamburg (Germany)
  • 2012 · Group Show «Silence Is A Lie» · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2012 · Group Show «Paris Zone Libre» · Paris (France)
  • 2011 · Group Show “Dissidents” · West Berlin Gallery · Germany
  • 2011 · Group show “Beyond Good and Evil” · West Berlin Gallery (Germany)
  • 2010 · Solo Show “My Belly is Mumbling” · West Berlin Gallery (Germany)
  • 2010 · Reclaim Your City · Neurotitan · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2010 · Group show “Wir In Milan” · SpazioConcept · Milan (Italy)
  • 2009 · X LAB Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2009 · Strike the Streets · Rome (Italy)
  • 2008 · Hinterconti · Hamburg (Germany)
  • 2008 · Alias goes Mono · Mono Concept Store · Hamburg (Germany)
  • 2007 · Vicious Gallery · Hamburg (Germany)
  • 2007 · Backjumps the live issue #3 · Galerie Tristesse · Berlin (Germany)

Selected art fairs, festivals & residencies

  • 2016 · International Urban Art Event “Urban Heart Basel” · Urbane Kunst · Basel (Switzerland)
  • 2015 · Artist Residence: ARTURb · Artistas Unidos em Residência · Lagos (Portugal)
  • 2015 · Memorie Urbane Streetart Festival · Gaeta (Italy)
  • 2014 · ST+ART · Street Art Festival · New Delhi (India)
  • 2014 · Blooom Artfair (Solo) · Cologne (Germany)
  • 2013 · Stroke#8 Artfair · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2013 · Stroke#7 Artfair · Munich (Germany)
  • 2012 · Stroke#6 Artfair · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2012 · Stroke#5 Artfair · Munich (Germany)
  • 2011 · Contemporary Istanbul Artfair · Istanbul (Turkey)
  • 2011 · Blooom Art.Fair · Cologne (Germany)
  • 2011 · Stroke#4 Artfair · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2010 · Stroke#3 · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2010 · UPFEST Urban Painting festival · Bristol (United Kingdom)
  • 2009 · Graffitolog · Cologne (Germany)
  • 2009 · Urban Affairs’ Extended · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2008 · Urban Affairs · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2007 · Basar One · Streetart Festival · Naples (Italy)

Selected publications

  • 2014 · Planet Banksy by KET · Michael O’Mara Books Limited
  • 2014 · FREE OZ – Streetart zwischen Revolte, Repression und Kommerz · Assoziation A
  • 2013 · Street Art in Germany · Timo Schaal · Riva Verlag
  • 2012 · Street Art by Alias · TeNeues
  • 2012 · Mehr als ein Viertel · Assoziation A
  • 2011 · Verband Kinder und Jugendarbeit · Hamburg
  • 2010 · Roadkill von Helene Hegemann· Einaudi
  • 2010 · Street Art Cookbook · Dokument Press
  • 2009 · Kai Jakob, Street Art in Berlin · Jaron Verlag
  • 2008 · Kai Jakob, Street Art in Berlin · Jaron Verlag
  • 2008 · Zimmermann · Berlin Street Art · Prestel Verlag
  • 2008 · Russell Howze, Stencil History X · Manic Press
  • 2008 · J.P. Schildwächter, StreetArt Hamburg · Junius

Selected press

Featured collections

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – Seattle (USA)
The Arts Fund – San Fransisco (USA)