Global Track is our bi-weekly street art column by Rhiannon Platt.
The work of Lush is polarizing: you either love his needling of graffiti norms, or you absolutely cannot stand him. Lush critiques himself and others, broadening the discussion about “urban art” through pointed criticism. On the other hand, some of his pieces are intended strictly for shock value. As one friend described, “He will paint his name in cum just because he can.”
This piece focuses on Lush works that challenge norms in graffiti and street art. From satirical illustrations to three-dimensional canvases to stylistic deviations, Lush explores the possibilities with an array of media, asking viewers to question the laws that govern the lawless medium.
Image via Lush
Although he is based in Australia, Lush has painted his way through Bulgaria recently with a series of tags. Each one varies as he experiments with color, technique, and line structure. Similar to Kuma in New York, Lush's tags in Bulgaria took on the surrounding aesthetics, mimicking the region's waves and the adjacent horizon. In other pieces, he plays with geometry, repeating line work, dashes, and faded shadows to stretch the possible outcomes of spray-painting four letters.
Every day Lush posted multiple tags from his time in Bulgaria on his blog, keeping up a steady pace of new work. Although not every trial was met success, Lush's repeated attempts to change up his visuals make each act a unique challenge that deviates from traditional line structure.
Image via Lush / Bulgaria
Within his illustrations, Lush calls into question the norms of an illegal movement through text. In one ad replacement, he pointed out the differences between what is considered graffiti versus street art, making fun of how writers demarcate the division. According to Lush, tags and scribes are considered more hardcore graffiti while less permanent mediums, like stickers, wheatpastes, and yarn bombs, are placed alongside rollers as “street art.” By delineating these differences, the piece confronts the arbitrary divisions that have developed within graffiti culture.
Image via Lush
For a few months last year, Lush released a set of comics in a series called “According to Lush…” for Vandalog. Targets ranged from the artist himself to politics, money, and the future of graffiti in the digital age. One of his best illustrations is titled Why Graffiti Writers Hate Street Artists. While the derogatory term “art fag” is detestable, Vandalog founder R.J. Rushmore points out that Lush uses this term to comment on the testosterone-dominated graffiti scene. Homophobic text aside, the usual concerns of the graffiti world dominate his piece, including the fact that street artists sell their work in galleries, whereas writers work for no financial gain.
The comic also touches on the fact that street artists frequently paint over tags with no respect for the writers who previously claimed the space. Most pointed, however, is Lush's final punch in the last panel, which boldly accuses writers of hating street artists simply based on pack mentality. This statement, like much of Lush’s work, is meant to provoke.
Image via Vandalog / Why Graffiti Writers Hate Street Artists
In Lush's world, every “urban artist” is considered a target, even himself. In several of his illustrations, including the image below, Lush is humorously self-deprecating. By outlining why each detail in his signature makes it the “Worst Tag in the World,” he suggests that no matter what others say to tear him down, he has already said himself. Through a critical eye towards both himself and the systems he is a part of, Lush creates commentary out of chaos.
Image via Lush