There is a difference between walking the streets of London with open eyes and walking the streets of London with an open mind and with the public perception of graffiti and street art gradually changing, it’s time for you to fall into the latter category. Jana and JS are a couple whose stencil work graces the walls and doors of many mainland European cities, and with their breathtaking murals now enhancing the urban centres of London and Dublin, it’s your chance to see a true masterpiece without queues, curators or protective frames.
The duo, hailing from France and Austria respectively, met in the Spanish capital Madrid in 2003 and have been hitting the walls and galleries of Central Europe with their photography inspired stencils ever since. The personal and moving portraits that they display is a credit to the connection between the two, their romantic and professional bond manages to create work that is easy to both interpret and appreciate.
Much of their work focuses on combination of external urban architecture and snapshots of personal emotion which provide a subject base that blends beautifully, reflecting the characters and personalities of various urbanites. The delicate nature of the murals also reflect the fragile life of the art itself, the images are a fleeting glimpse into the pain and anguish of the subject, as short an insight as the span of time for which the piece will be gracing a public place. The medium of their work also serves as a relevant set to the desperation of their characters, seeing a sprawled out figure of a destitute woman is apt when passing in-between the cold concrete walls of major capitals, it gives their work an invaluable stage that adds to its effectiveness.
One aspect of Jana & JS’ work centres on the mirror images of photographers, they like to capture the moment, in which, the moment is captured. A reflection of those who are attempting to record history is both unique and fascinating glimpse into the duo’s psyche, the collection is a side that is rarely seen, an encapsulation of a self-reflective attitude, the hunter is now the hunted. The idea of chronicling the photographers provides an emotional connection to photography that is rarely considered, the look in their eyes and the stance they adopt all helps to understand the meaning of their work and the ambience surrounding the eventual outcome.
The work of Jana & JS is both thoughtful and delicate, their work may not pop from the walls like other artists currently spraying London streets but their deep and attentive work means that their stencils are some of the most impressive pieces of work currently gracing the capital. Some of their work still adorns the walls of Shoreditch and Aldgate if you fancy getting up-close and personal but luckily for all of us permanent memories of temporary pieces are available at their website along with updates of shows and street work.