Peeta’s art then succumbs to paintings driven by volumes, turning the once plain barricade into a beacon of art that hooks his audience.
Across the almost-isolated street, the Nobolt Sports Center in Fukuoka, Japan, triples into a colossal building as its walls flaunt a multi-layered spectrum of colors and designs. It mirrors the geometrical concept of shapes infused with jovial tones of four brightly-lit palettes: red, yellow, white, and blue. At a first glance, the spiraling figures attuned with sharp-edged squares pop out from the wall: visitors can almost glaze their fingers on the street art and feel it pulse under their skin. Yet, as they walk up closely to inspect the spray paint that has been speckled to create it, they will soon realize that Peeta’s arthas just toyed with their imagination.
Manuel di Rita is a Venice-born street artist famed for his moniker Peeta. He stashed his real name once he ventured into the realm of street art and nestled with the birth of his alias that pivots back to his school days when his classmates identified him through his nickname ‘Pita’. He embraced the way the sound rolled off his tongue, but he wasn’t a fan of the ‘i’ in the middle. He squinted his eyes at how the name looked like on a paper and replaced the single vowel with a double ‘ee’, a move that felt natural for him to project a trademark that’s more graphically aesthetic to look at.
Peeta’s career as a graffiti writer kicked off in 1991 when his airplane flight landed in Barcelona. The culture-dosed city is charged with snapshots of traditional, unconventional, and contemporary arts that lazily lounge in its streets and alleys. As the graffiti writer strode in to admire the stratified techniques and thorough execution that each art piece demonstrated, a deep-seated urge blossomed in his will. The labyrinthine forms, shapes, and visuals of the Barcelona art landscape then ignited a drive to Peeta and pushed him to dig deeper into his own artistic endeavors.
Peeta’s earlier style was flat and intentional. As a budding graffiti writer, his primary genre clambered on two-dimensional visuals that first embraced the tip of his pencils in his sketchbook. He listened to his gut instinct that if he mustered his own style in the industry, he was required to immerse himself in his artistic tone and further mold it through outside influences. Such a reasoning brought him forward to study Industrial Design at University of Venice and join his first-ever graffiti-artists crew Paduan EAD.
Restless days ensued as Peeta forbade himself to stop sketching and to continue fostering his paper-based drawings. His philosophy reflected, and it still does, the belief that he could only become a master of his own field if he spent his day practicing and harnessing his craft. Day by day, new layers of details sculpted his once plain-looking artwork until his classic approach then maneuvered into geometrical spheres, suffusing his graffiti with cylindrical, twisting images and abrupt slopes and turns. Once he satiated his desire to attune himself with his creations, Peeta sprung up in writing intricate forms that he resonates well with: 3D paintings.
Since his raw discovery unraveled before his eyes, Peeta marches towards graffiti on the walls in a gradual pace. The barricades turn into an essential architecture for Peeta rather than a purposeful stacks of bricks and blocks. He sets aside the pencils that pepper his paper, stands up to brush off the eraser crumbs that have fallen on his lap, and picks up spray cans to bring his sketches to life. Through the blank surface, he unleashes the progressive bloom in his style, technique, and mastery.
Peeta adapts the wisdom that he needs to look at his blank canvas, the wall, beyond its form. He veers off course from simply spray painting the wall with what he has done in his sketchbook. Instead, he magnifies the glamour that resides on the surface with detailed shadow-esque style through a variety of hex paint colors. Peeta’s art then succumbs to paintings driven by volumes, turning the once plain barricade into a beacon of art that hooks his audience. It’s not a surprise that his well-established imaginative style has garnered accolades and collaborations under his belt in both local and international communities.
FX Crew and RWK Crew, two New York-based street art squads, have whisked Peeta into their teams since the early 2000s and soon transformed into repositories of the street artist’s artwork inspirations and international tournament calls. He has had mural spray painting invitations and exhibitions across the globe thanks to his participation in an array of graffiti writing competitions. The combined crews and contests depots have blasted off his career, putting his name on an international pedestal.
One of his recent works points at his wall graffiti for MURO Festival 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. In the entryway of the rusty-ish apartment building, doused in plain brick-like and gray colors, Peeta’s style enamors the visitors. Gray cylinders with occasional sharp-edged diamond shapes protrude the once grim-looking wall and are magnified through the 3D techniques of adding shadows and dark-colored finishing touches. It flourishes to an eye-appealing treat that glazes the construction with a revamped display.
His wallwork for the Stadt.Wand.Kunst Mural Art Gallery in Mannheim, Germany, engrosses the city dwellers with his acclaimed cylindrical, conic, and pointy figures, but he adds a dash of blue- and white-colored stripes that seem to cross-over one another. In another display, his work for the Mural Goes Festival in The Netherlands portrays circles and magnet-shaped designs intertwined together in a classic pure white color. Amidst these, he seems to drop his spiraling style in his exhibit in Wonderwalls Festival Port Adelaide in Australia when he writes a few bent slashes over a deluge of box shapes plastered through yellow, orange, pink, and white spray paint palettes.
There is a recurring theme of geometry in Peeta’s tone of 3D graffiti writing. Each street art piece evokes a fleeting sensation to his audience that stops their tracks and leaves them no choice but to admire his multilayered creations. Years have gone by since he first picked up his first spray can, and he has begun to nod more to his newly-founded pathways. While he shies away from the spray cans, Peeta ramps up his time curating his 3D sculptures and canvases.
He admits that, for now, his focal point rests on this genre. He longs to dedicate himself in treating his sculptures not as objects, but as means to explore how to reinvigorate his approach to shapes and volumes. His primary color bows down to white and allows the singular shade open his floodgates on how light and shadow manipulate forms and figures. His intention is to let his geometrical practice flower from conceptual wall works into concrete, touch-permitted designs, and his mostly sold-out handmade crafts prove just that. Regardless of his creeping shift to another form of art, the graffiti writer slash sculptor elicits a dominant character in each of his artwork: the visual of self-portraits.
In his short video interview, Peeta reclines on his plastic chair while donning a pale blue beanie, a dark blue jacket, and his pair of square-shaped eyeglasses. He holds his pencil between his thumb and index fingers, letting the clipped wood sway as he narrates his story. Not far from where he’s sitting, a thick masking tape, a sketchbook, a spray can, and a white canvas cluster together. The fused details in that video frame bring up the calling he has devoted his time to throughout his artistic ventures. Across the table in his background, a plain white 3D sculpture bearing his signature curved lines that end in tipped peaks rest on the table. Right there, as his humble narration thrives, Manuel ‘Peeta’ di Rita oozes sublime passion that can hardly be painted with words.
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