Defamiliarizing the Ordinary with Street Artist Nelio


On a photo of Walk in Paris, Nelio’s mural of light blues, burgundies, and a creamy orange cast on a tattered tan wall, he captioned, “I found this nice wall during a walk in Paris. I felt the need to paint on it. Quick painting in a sunny afternoon, good times.”

This spirit is apparent in his work, which has a child-like whimsy to it, with its bold colors and simple shapes. This is not to say his work is elementary. While using simple elements, his pieces can be quite intricate, built with a mix of cubism and African art influence. His darks and lights are masterfully balanced, dazzling to the eye.

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The environments surrounding his canvases are particularly significant when paired with the content of his work. Many settings involve dilapidated structures that Nelio invigorates with bold paintings whose brightness and clean lines starkly contrast the crumbling surfaces. In an interview with Lancia TrendVisions, Nelio states that one of his artistic goals is to help people “escape from the sad reality of the actual world for a moment.” This is exactly what the juxtaposition of his canvas and his painting accomplishes. Paul Rand stressed the role of art in altering perspective, saying, “The problem of the artist is to defamiliarize the ordinary.” In this, Nelio succeeds in his goal. He is a visionary, able to see beautiful things in ordinary things, making his own extraordinary worlds inside the world around him.

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>> See more of Nelio’s work here.


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