Graffiti Artists Battle it out at Newtown Junction Mall

The battle lines were drawn as three graffiti artists faced off at the Newtown Junction Mall in Johannesburg on Thursday to see who will be named Newtown Junction Graffiti Face-Off Master.

Now their fate lies in the hands of the public, who have been invited to choose the best work on social media.

The three finalists, Michael Thompson, Mduduzi Tshabalala and Ryza Phatzo, were selected from more than 50 graffiti artists who submit their work for the graffiti competition, which was hosted by the inner-city mall.

With five hours to create a work of art, the pressure was on for the artists. A crowd gathered to watch them wield tools of their trade, but they seemed oblivious to everything around them as they focused on the task at hand.

 

Newtown Junction Mall Marketing Manager, Thato Maila says, the work by the three artists is awe-inspiring. "These guys are enormously talented and it will be interesting to see who gets the most votes. The public has a week to vote and the winner will then be given the opportunity to leave his mark on two full-size walls at the mall."

 

The brief for the winner? Create one piece that speaks to the brand on one wall and, on the other wall, produce an interactive 3D piece that people will be able to take selfies with.

 

Tshabalala, who has been painting for 17 years, says he enters every competition he can. "Before the Newtown Junction Mall competition, I checked out the other artists' work to see what they do and see how to approach my work.

 

"Newtown is the artistic capital of Joburg and I'd love to have my work up on those walls. In addition to having a long life, it will be great for my portfolio," says Tshabalala.

Phatzo works in Newtown and heard about the competition at work. He has been a graffiti artist for 15 years and says he mulled over the several ideas in the days preceding the competition before deciding what to do.

 

"Choosing what to do was also determined by the medium we were expected to paint on."

 

Maila says the competition has raised the profile of the three graffiti artists and created a buzz at the mall. "We look forward to seeing what the winner comes up with for the two walls. We have no doubt they will be magnificent and a perfect addition to Johannesburg's cultural hub."

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