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Alias selected artworks


Rarely are we granted an opportunity to come across an artist as capable of pulling on our emotional strings as the case is with Alias, a German street artist based in the metropolis of Berlin. Completely relying on the stencil technique to get his points across to the viewers, this artist’s urban pieces mainly present children and teenagers in different states and forms. This is a relatively common theme present within the street art realm for years, but what makes Alias’ stencils unprecedented is the fact he usually presents his subjects amidst 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 story in a collective epic tale we call life. Staying true to the stencil origins, Alias mostly utilizes nothing but black and white within his compositions, although small touches of red color are regularly present. This stylistic decision works really well when paired up with the thematic images and graphically designed figures this artist is so fond of – heartbreaking scenes such as a child riddled with bullets (Body Body Head) or a crying kid with a backpack who is hiding his weeping face from the viewers. As much as we hate to admit it, our contemporary societies are full of such scenes and that is why this artist’s work is so effective at affecting us on an emotional level. It’s easy to correspond and reflect on the depicted subjects, while the viewers can even see a bit of themselves within the compositions, allowing for a raw and instant self-identification moment. This is why Alias’ interventions are so full of inner and reflective compassion as all of us are wired to react to injustice and can see a little bit of ourselves within the imagery. Due to the tragic view of innocent victims, Alias art was often perceived as politically fueled but, in reality, this is far from the truth. Alias does not really want to expand his messages on anything larger than the matter at hand as he only desires to share and make us view personal tragedies of injustice.

Emotions of Alias Art

When one decides to analyze Alias art, such a process always leads to a quiet introspection. Alias investigates how individuals are personally impacted and transformed by being affected by their unfair environments. It’s interesting how the artist is able to depict these mistreated subjects in a way they seem simultaneously mysterious and familiar to the viewer. This way, Alias underlines his urban work with a fact all of us hate admitting – that the existence of loneliness and personal crisis can be found all around us, despite us constantly ignoring such occurrences. This tragic reality of detachment is not a new concept within the visual arts field and there are numerous artists which explored this harsh truth via their work. By extent, these pieces can be linked to the contemporary Alanis art. One of the most logical names that come to mind when discussing depicted loneliness is Edward Hopper. This iconic American painter was a master of creating detached and isolated individuals drowning in their sorrow. Edvard Munch alluded to both his own and others’ separation too, usually by painting chilling portraits often produced in haunting series. Andy Warhol used to share his views on isolation through his work as he felt a strong sense of detachment his entire life, which naturally reflected heavily on his art. Pablo Picasso also had his say on the matter over the years of his career – the legendary Spaniard tackled loneliness with quite a few paintings, highlighted by the famous Melancholy Woman created in 1902-3. All of these artists, including Alias, are masters of presenting the irony of a lonely person within a highly populated urban environment, detached from everyone around him and held submerged by the weight of their problems, futilely gasping for air.

The Cruciality of a Location

Choosing where to place the artwork is always an important decision for any street artist, but for Alias, this is a pivotal choice that can make or break a piece. This is, of course, very dependable on the size of the actual artwork. While most other urban interventionists go for the large scale size with desires of making their works as noticeable as possible, Alias art tends to be much less dramatic in that regard. In fact, he seems to be going in a completely opposite direction as his stencils are rather discreet in measurements. Therefore, his works can be fitted into anywhere he chooses to place them. The location of the piece is actually an integral part of Alias’ portfolio and he thoughtfully chooses specific spots and objects where the stencils are going to take place. By making sure the site is perfect, this artist allows the stencil to reach the highest level of sentimentality. The crying boy is hiding 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). By analyzing both the content and the site of the stencil, it becomes immediately clear that the locations are as vital a part of the artwork’s identity as the visuals and themes themselves. The meticulous choosing of a location is also a result of the search for the ideal abandoned urban area that will correspond to the neglected souls planned to be sprayed there. This special relationship between the troubled subject and a dismissed site is a remarkable quality and really makes Alias stand out from his contemporary colleagues.

Materials Matter

Just as the question where the piece is going to be placed has proven to be an essential aspect of Alias art, so is the decision on what will it be sprayed on. The surface which will serve as a canvas can be described as the artist’s conceptual basis. In most cases, this Berlin-based artist utilizes rusty old metal or similar scrap pieces as the surface for his imagery. The artist finds these materials himself, searching for disregarded plates and grits, later assembling the recycled materials in usable surfaces through a collage-like method. This concept reaches a full effect only after we consider the fact Alias’ stencils are extremely well crafted without any drips or marks common to the medium. Such a flawlessly finished artwork placed on a rough layered surface serves as a fantastic metaphor that definitely works in favor of the content. Additionally, Alias art depicted on such rugged surfaces is also spectacular if placed within a gallery setting – by keeping the harsh materials of the street, the pieces are able to keep their precious identities and not find themselves compromised by the studio conditions. Poetically speaking, Alias’ unfortunate subjects are perfect in their nature, yet being crushed by the fact they find themselves amidst a harsh setting which is actually the perfect opposite of where they deserve to be. That way, the viewers are able to realize the extent of unjustified neglection presented characters are exposed to. This is why having a rough surface is so crucial as only when one analyzes all three factors of Alias art, which are content, location and material, the true message is able to uncover itself. Only then does Alias art becomes complete, when the blend of themes, emotionality, tactility, texture and introspection is allowed to function as a whole.

Selected exhibitions

  • 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

  • 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)