Water-works: The Element of Effervescence

Nirvana, Nevermind

Water, the source of all life, is beautiful and constantly elusive. The element mystifies and draws in, in equal measure, and has always intrigued artists. Unfixed and ever-changing, yet ineffable, it is one of the most alluring elements. Its power can generate both development and devastation, and still it is almost prelapsarian in its comfort, being the point of origin for all of humanity, both individually and evolutionarily. And if this wasn’t enough to credit water, it is also warm and inviting in its charming tranquility. After all, who doesn’t love the smell of petrichor, or a dip on a hot day?

It goes without saying that an element as beautiful as this makes–and becomes–art. We’ve dug up a few artists who probably love rainy days, we think, or anything else to do with water, and are just a few of the many brilliant people working with aqua.


1. Let’s Reflect

Lithuanian artist Ray Bartkus painted a mural on a building by the side of the river Šešupė in Marijampolė, entitled ‘Flowing life‘. Now before you think that this is anything like what that one friend-of-a-cousin does at HKV, let us tell you that he painted it upside-down, so that the water becomes his true canvas, reflecting the swimmers, swans and boaters on its surface so they seem right-side-up in reflection.

This ingenious idea was implemented in order to make a change and create something different that will make people stop and take notice. Bartkus, observing people’s fast-paced lives, wanted to bring an unusual idea to his city that will make anyone passing pause and look again. This concept is creative, striking and just crazy enough to be brilliant. He hopes:

…people will discover something new, because this drawing, as well as our real life that day, will be different than it was yesterday.

upside-down mural Lithuania Ray Bartkus Marijampolė

upside-down mural Lithuania Ray Bartkus Marijampolė

To those who say his work is photoshopped, he just lets the art speak for itself, sending in the picture below as proof of the authenticity of his art and that it does indeed work.

upside-down mural Lithuania Ray Bartkus Marijampolė

Images Courtesy- Suduvosgidas and BoredPanda


2. Singin’ in the Rain

Seattle-based Peregrine Church‘s mission is to make the world a more interesting place. Through his project Rain Works, he creates street art that stays invisible till it gets wet. He wants to, he says, give “people a reason to be excited for rainy days”. These hidden messages, illustrations and games, made with an environmentally-safe hydrophobic coating, make rainy days something to look forward to and bring a smile to people’s faces.

As these pieces last roughly 4 months due to friction-caused wearing down of the sidewalks, Church is constantly making more, since he now receives commissions to do so. However, he does not blatantly advertise (on principle, so as to keep his messages positive and fun). Further, city authorities have assured them that this is legal, since his works are non-toxic, non-commercial, temporary and only sometimes visible.

Check out this video and the Rain Works website for more of Church’s inspiring street art.

Peregrine Church Rain Works

Peregrine Church Rain Works

Peregrine Church Rain Works

Images Courtesy- Rainworks


3. Water You Wading For?

Hawaii-born street artist Sean Yoro, or Hula as he calls himself, paints stunning murals depicting women emerging from the water along the concrete walls of ruined and abandoned structures while afloat his surfboard, balancing himself as well as his paint cans. Sharing his works on his website and Instagram, the New York-based artist has garnered substantial appreciation for his work, being featured on websites such as Street Art News, Colossal as well as Boredpanda.

His murals, placed just above the water level to give the illusion of the women either emerging or being submerged underwater. These portraits are all marked with distinctive tattoo-like markings on their skin, as are most of his depictions of women, from other series as well. His pieces seem to exist just above the tide and reflect perfectly onto the waves so that the image extends far beyond the painted surface.

Other than at water level, Yoro also paints on cracked surfboards, and plain old canvases.

Hula street art murals water Sean Yoro

Hula street art murals water Sean Yoro


Hula street art murals water Sean Yoro

Images Courtesy- Hula


4. Worlds under Water

Netherlands-based Gabriele Viertel takes photographs underwater that seem to capture different worlds altogether. His pictures hold alluring, mysterious secrets that capture ethereal feelings and emotions, lassoing in the viewer and not letting go. He claims to use water to create a thought provoking mood and chiaroscuro lighting that leads to a dramatical surrealistic visual narrative.

Thus, he feels as though his works tell a story, each series revealing a different one, that even he is not entirely privy to the nuances of, illusory as it is. The photographs are a tightrope between the world of human vulnerability, beauty, and performing arts, lending the appearance of an underwater dance by some nymph of another world. The artist’s works have been displayed at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Indiana, US and can be viewed at his website (linked to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well). Be sure to give his work a look.

Mystery Fine Art of Underwater Photography Viertel Gabriele

Mystery Fine Art of Underwater Photography Viertel Gabriele

Images Courtesy- boredpanda


5. Sculpting Water

Glass artist Ben Young (whose work we’ve featured before) makes sculptures of different water bodies with layers of carefully-cut glass (laminate window plates). His works are usually cut into cross-sections like textbook illustrations, creating translucent geometric islands that can appear both monolithic or chamsic. He also makes both abstract and realistic interpretations of waves, influenced by the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand that he grew up near.

His work is startling in its precision and beauty as it is done by hand, with no help from machines or 3D printing, from his initial paper sketches to the manual cutting of each glass pane. He imagines and wants viewers to imagine his work as ‘living’ and says he likes to play with the irony between the glass being a solid material and how he can form such natural and organic shapes. His work can be accessed on Tumblr as well as Kirra Galleries, where he is represented, which also feature his newest series, Float.

Ben Young Ben Young

Ben Young

Images Courtesy-  Ben Young

Water, essential as it is for sustaining life, is seen as much more than just this by these artists, who are preoccupied by how they can take it further. They strive to bring their art as well as their interpretation of water to the next level. Through their creative, zany outlooks, they have created altogether unique things. From playing with reflections and the surface of water, to rendering other devices to resemble it, and to making rainy days happier, these artists’ thoughts have probably never seen the inside of a box at all!

With their endeavour to produce results different from what has been done already, while employing the element of water, these artists proudly and bravely flout all norms and instead make something truly, originally spectacular. Thus, these remarkable people see the element as a potential work of art but take it beyond what is conventional, with their ideas as fresh as water.

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