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The Art of Minivila

On Saturday, Street Art Museum Amsterdam's new curatorial team and I had the opportunity to visit the pop-up event in the house of the museum’s longest-held friend and artist — Minivila. An intimate environment full of diverse internationals, the event gave us insight into the lives of otherwise unreachable and mysterious street artists.

In the sun-bathed loft, just off the Weesperplein, the artist displayed dozens of her historical, unique, pieces all containing Minivila's character, or icon, that takes the form of a pixie-like woman enshrouded by abstract elements. The figure absorbs a feminine essence, yet the abstract lines and dark undertones depart from stereotypical representations of the feminine by positing notes of fantasy, power, mystique. These themes weave their way through her collection, and eventually culminate into not just paper and canvases, but also articles of clothing and hand-stitched collages. Minivila's work, which actually began with fashion design and illustration in her home country of Croatia, is more than just street art. Yet, her presence within the movement remains important. Her street art began with her husband— one of the members of The London Police.

The London Police, originally from Britain but now living in Amsterdam, pioneered the Street Art movement more than two decades ago. Using marker pen on canvas, acrylic paint, and spray paint, the duo combines futuristic landscapes with original caricatures that have earned the group international acclaim. Minivila became interested in the street art movement through her husband. After receiving inspiration and encouragement from him, Minivila decided to translate her fashion illustrations out onto the streets. In her early years, Minivila engaged in quite a bit of tagging and mural painting, but has since evolved. Minivila then became involved with GO Gallery— one of the biggest supporters of the street art movement in Amsterdam— where she then worked in numerous group shows and various street art projects.

In 2010, Go Gallery helped to catalyze the first Amsterdam Street Art festival, which has served to promote street art throughout the city of Amsterdam. This event gave a new wind to the movement within Amsterdam, and led to the formation of Glamorous Outcasts foundation — Anna’s original work with the street artists, way before SAMA. In fact, it was at this very event that Anna's first volunteering effort ended up in hosting Pez & his family, and where she met Minivila. Since then, Anna has become one of the biggest fans of Minivila and by 2014 was able to fundraise from AFK for Minivila's first Solo Show in Nieuw-West (CON)temporary Urban Lifestyles - FASHION.

Minivila has continued to work on making art, including a piece in the SAMA collection titled, "Personality".

Events such as this are more than just 'garage sales'. To me, it has highlighted the fact that the Street Art movement is a tight-knit network of friends and family. The idea that the artist works alone is a falsehood. Perhaps the creativity behind the individual’s work stems from one brain, but the journey of getting those pieces into the collectors' homes, takes dozens, if not hundreds of supporters.

Looking ahead to the future, SAMA remains committed to growing the family so that more people may gain exposure to the street art movement. In just 2 weeks, SAMA will travel to London to see Pez: 20 Years Smiling With Friends. This event, located at the StolenSpace Gallery, will include works from artists also present at the Minivila Show, such as TLP, in addition to close SAMA friends like Stinkfish and Chica Dania. Stay tuned as the SAMA family continues to support one another and the global movement to respect those who reclaimed the streets for us.

photos courtesy of @astolya and @minivila

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