Street art piece
Slave Woman (Carribean)
Street Art Museum Amsterdam
Btoy is one of the first women who stepped out onto the streets of Barcelona with detailed multi- layered stencil art that plays with colour, light and shadow to create moody and powerful portraits. Born in Barcelona, Btoy is the child of social activists an refugees fleeing the dictatorial regime in Uruguay lasting from 1973-85. As a self-taught artist, she came to graffiti while completing a photography degree (and after abandoning studies in law), first playing with paste-ups on the streets of Barcelona in the early 2000’s. At that time, before it became the mass tourism hotspot it is today, a welcoming culture and low cost of living in Barcelona created fertile ground for those experimenting with graffiti, underground music, theater and art subcultures. It was in this setting that Btoy began to investigate feminism, stereotyped gender roles and identities, and to express her own identity through her work, choosing the streets as her medium for their freedom from convention, their hidden moods, memories, and stories.
After being invited to paint at Banksy’s CANS 2008 Stencil Art Battle, Btoy has quickly gained international acclaim, and is recognised as one of the world’s top stencil artists today. Her work is characterised by clean lines, striking colour combinations, unconventional but thoughtful use of light and shadow to create portraits that confront the collective naturalisation of patriarchy, and the hierarchisation of bodies and diversities.
Btoy is equally prolific on the street as she is in the studio. Following her breakout debut in 2008, she has won many high profile commissions, and appeared in gallery shows including, Galerie Itinerrance in Paris, Beirut Art Center, N2 gallery Barcelona, Instituto Cervantes Istanbul, Spazio Concept in Milan, Pretty Portal in Düsseldorf, Irvine Contemporary Gallery Washington DC, Cafe Spokojna in Warsaw, and Traffic Gallery Bergamo. She has also appeared in Festival Frutos in Barcelona, Amsterdam Street Art Festival, Wool Festival in Covilha, Bloop Festival Ibiza, and Festival Surpàs in Portbou.
Good / Legible
Caribbean Slave is made using the stencil technique, typical of the artist, with which he is able to obtain multicoloured portraits of great realism thanks to the superimposition of different layers. This technique is very popular in the world of street art and especially street art with a social background, as we see in Banksy's example. Btoy's works enhance the adherence to reality with a strong dramatic verve and a wise use of colour reminiscent of Hopper's works.
The work is part of the "Catch me if you can" series created in 2016 by the artist for the SAMA collection: the portraits range from famous show business personalities to important figures of feminist or social imagery and were all made on electric boxes, as in the case of "Caribbean Slave" itself. This work has undoubtedly become one of the most famous stencils in the museum's collection because of its strong symbolic message: always close to the themes of social, racial and masculine injustice, Btoy believes in the vindictive power of street art and its ability to give consciousness to the viewer. In this work against the historical xenophobic violence of Dutch colonisation in history and contemporary violence in relation to the Black Lives Matter struggle, the artist wants to bring his own grain to this battle, making other stencils related to the theme such as the one of Nelson Mandela or the three distinct Black Powers.The work is also a clear echo of the feminist movement, as the artist also states:
“My central axis is a feminist reflection, maintaining a certain ambiguity in gender identity – a self-struggle of those stereotyped roles, foolish ivalries to visualise in behaviour, the self-liberation of dignity between forgetfulness and memories of spaces desolated by time.”