Creative

Artist Combines Graffiti and Poetry To Create Expressive Portraits Steeped in Symbolism

Artist Combines Graffiti and Poetry To Create Expressive Portraits Steeped in Symbolism

“You Live and Learn,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 35.4 x 23.6 inches

German-Pakistani artist Jasmin Siddiqui, aka Hera, is a multi-disciplinary creative who uses her varied expertise and translates it into expressive artwork. As a graffiti artist, illustrator, poet, and storyteller, Hera combines them all into portraiture of human figures enveloped by fantastical symbols as well as gestural brushstrokes and drips. Some figures don animal heads while others are visited by fairies, and each image features a few lines of text that correspond with the image.

The piece titled You Live and Learn encapsulates the imaginative and emotional tenor of Hera’s work. In it, a child is staring directly at the viewer—as if they are peering into the observer’s soul. The kid wears a giant mouse atop their head while their finger is caught in a mousetrap. The text “I’m fine, really,” is scrawled onto the corner of the canvas, but it’s hard to believe that things are really okay. The symbolism of the mouse and the trap—a “problem” creature and the solution for getting rid of it—can’t help but be placed on the figure in the image.

Hera’s work is a reflection of herself. “My affiliation is always with those who create beauty in the darkest of places,” she explains, “Because the gutter feels closer to my creative home than the artist studio. I come from graffiti culture. I used to be the vulture, the raccoon, the street rat, that rummaged through leftover paint buckets left on the curbs of home renovations, treasuring other people’s trash.”

The mixed-media pieces were recently part of Hera We Go Again, Hera’s solo show at the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles, California.

The artist known as Hera creates expressive mixed media works inspired by graffiti, illustration, and poetry.

“Poetry Written in Fairy Language,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 27.6 x 19.7 inches

“An Ode to You,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 47.2 x 15.75 inches | “Seen It All and Still Have Hope,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 39.4 x 19.7 inches

“Love Her but Leave Her Wild,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 35.4 x 23.6 inches

“There Is as Much to Learn as There Is to Teach,” acrylic paint, spraypaint, charcoal on canvas 39.4 x 31.5 inches

“Taking a Break From Dancing to Their Tunes,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 35.4 x 23.6 inches

“Smart Rats Have a Thousand Lives,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 39.4 x 19.7 inches

“I Had This Guy,’ acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 27.6 x 27.6 inches

Hera: Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Corey Helford Gallery.

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