ROME — In a bar, sipping a cup of tea with Sten and Lex, two of the most famous street artists in Europe, we were provided with an opportunity to better understand the philosophy and language of their art.
The spoke with one voice in our interview.
BLAST: Introduce yourselves. Where do the nicknames Sten and Lex come from?
STEN AND LEX: Sten stands for "stencil" and Lex means "law" hence the pair is "the law of stencil".
BLAST: Could you digress and tell me what characterizes your style and what techniques you use?
STEN AND LEX: Unlike many street artists, we do not have a artistic background. Ten years ago we started using a stencil when the idea of street art did not have much legitimacy in Italy. The technique we use is called "hole school" and consists of stencils with many holes of different sizes that all together provide a highly photographic image. This technique was also often used for printing newspapers in the Sixties and Seventies. In addition to the "hole" technique, we also use the superimposed lines technique. Finally, what characterizes our work on the streets are the very light-weight paper posters, that adhere closely to the walls and that we glue on to the walls of the city.
BLAST What degree of experimentation do you use with the stencil technique and use of color?
STEN AND LEX: We prefer black and white using half shades and therefore dots and lines, because, observing the art from a distance, there are chiaroscuros that make the images realistic. In our more recent work, however, we have used the four-color process which involves using superimposed transparent colors.
BLAST: To what extent is street art political, and is yours?
STEN AND LEX: A famous street artist (Shepard Fairey) used Barack Obama’s face and certainly contributed to spreading his image on a large scale. In this sense he launched a political message almost equal to that of an election poster. In our stencils, instead, the contents tend to not include politics, with only a few exceptions, although the interpretation of our work is subjective.
BLAST: Is there an ancient, modern or contemporary artist who changed your perspectives of things?
STEN AND LEX: In the work we are showing at the exhibition that will open Friday, March 12th at the Gallery CO2 (Borgo Vittorio, 9 -Rome) we used a technique that consists of incorporating the stencil itself, which, since it is made of paper, remains only partly impressed on the paper. The destruction of the stencil becomes part of the work of art. Some have seen in this, references to Mimmo Rotella’s d©collage and collage work.
BLAST: Is it not a little contradictory to work anonymously and then also hold an exhibition in an art gallery and show oneself. Does it make sense?
STEN AND LEX: There is a contradiction. However, exhibiting our work in an art gallery allows us to establish contacts. Without that we do not get commissions seeing that in Italy there is still a very high barrier between street art and institutional art. Street art. in fact, provides one with the opportunity of having an immense audience, often far larger than the traditional one of an art gallery. In Italy however, this mentality still does not exists and hence we must often show our work in art galleries.
BLAST: Do your projects for the future include spending time in the US, the homeland of street art, and managing to leave a trace there too?
STEN AND LEX: (In) October we will be able to present our work in the United States in New York at the Brooklynite Gallery, where we will be given us a wall to work on together with another street artist called Gaia.