Current @ the Arsenal is the brainchild of urban art aficionado Alejandro Figueroa, whose passion for street art has led to remarkable collaborations involving artists the world over.
While the concept of indoor street art makes our head spin, it was this exact challenge that inspired Figueroa, who played a supportive role in the larger-than-life Montreal MURAL Festival this past June. “It’s an interesting project because the concept itself is a risk. When you’re producing street art outside, it’s in its context, but when you bring it inside, the challenge is to maintain that same context. To bring the outside in,” he explains.
Just how challenging is it to bring street art off the streets? “I’ve tried this concept before, and it was a misadventure,” jokes Figueroa. “The artists were fantastic, thousands of people came, but the curation was a mess. Imagine all the murals you see outside one after the other without any separation.”
This time around, Figueroa curated with an immaculate eye. “We worked the space to really showcase each artist without letting any one piece get in the way of the other.”
So what can we expect to see? “This will be a good sampling of what street art is right now,” says Figueroa. “We will have Case, who creates the ‘holy cow’ of graffiti in the world. But it’s not just about graffiti. It’s painters, installation artists, wheat paste artists, every type of urban art out there.” The Arsenal, as Figueroa imagines it, will become a contemporary art space invaded by street art.
Possibly the coolest part of the exhibition is the live factor: visitors will be able to watch the walls come to life. Starting on October 4th, the artists will be on-site, creating their pieces from scratch in a mere five days. Visitors will witness the actual process of blank gallery walls transforming into an urban art oasis. So while typical art exhibitions look the same each day, Current is the definition of dynamic.
“It’s very rare to be able to watch the artistic process from beginning to end,” explains Figueroa. “Even street artists usually work on lifts. This time, they will be right in front of you.”
“I think people will be surprised. Watching an artist can demystify the work, but it also gives people a new appreciation for the artist. They work on a lift, at crazy hours, getting sunburnt, rained on – I have never seen harder working people in my life.”
And it’s not just the walls that will be transformed. In order to truly recreate a sense of the outdoors, the artists will literally bring the streets inside, incorporating their art into street signs, construction cones, barricades, and other outdoor elements to truly give context to their work.
On October 11th, the final day of the exhibition, the Arsenal will be holding a closing reception. Of course a celebration of such a unique artistic feat wouldn’t be complete without its own entertainment. Artistic performances will dazzle guests throughout the night as they enjoy food and drinks by M sur Masson. A special VIP access to the completed artists’ works will also be available and certain pieces will be offered for purchase.
“These are great artists to invest in,” says Figueroa. “There is an element of street art that is trendy and transient. But these artists were chosen for their technique and execution. This is art that lives on.”
The exhibition takes place October 4th-11th at 2020 rue William with the closing reception held on the last day.
Images by Artists: Alexis Diaz, Sten et Lex, and Case Maclaim