Courtesy of Red Bull Newsroom
Australian artist van Helten unveils jigsaw made of 63 containers in Dubai.
Dubai is no stranger to giant sculptures, the city boasting the four tallest hotels in the world as well as the world’s tallest building. Now it has turned its hand to a giant jigsaw.
Made up of 63 containers and measuring 135 metres long and 12 metres high, Red Bull Curates – Jigsaw, is a monstrous artistic creation from Guido van Helten.
Consisting of a pair of eyes, it is the largest reconfigurable format street art in the world, and took 18 days and 288 man-hours to complete, the artist using 500 litres of paint for the 207-tonne art installation.
Two 100-tonne cranes had to be used over the course of 48 hours to position the painted containers to form the gargantuan jigsaw at 117LIVE’s Autism Rocks Arena by the city’s Dubai Outlet Mall on Al Ain road.
Painted in an original deconstructed format, the giant pieces come together with the help of the aforementioned cranes to reveal the eye-catching record-breaking image.
Van Helten was roaming the city, photographing and looking for a subject, when he found a camel herder working a couple of hundred meters away from the actual site.
“I’ve always seen Dubai as this global place,” explains the artist. “For me, it’s always been a stopover from Australia to Europe. I’ve never witnessed what it’s like to be here. I’ve had preconceptions about the place that have been thrown out the window. Of course, there is a world of money and business but behind that there are everyday people who are working everyday jobs. I did not realize how much of a diverse place it is. I didn’t realize how many different cultures there are in the city.
“I’m interested in exploring these people and allowing the subject matter to present itself to me,” he says. “In this case that near the wall there were people who run a camel farm. So I approached them and offered myself as somebody who is interested in what they are doing there.”
Best known for his large-scale, site-specific murals, the Australian artist’s breath-taking monochromatic portraits adorn walls around the world from Utah to the Ukraine.
Born in 1986, van Helten’s first street art was as a traditional graffiti artist before relocating from Melbourne to study in Brisbane at the Southern Cross University.
Since graduating in 2008, he has developed an inimitable style inspired by the look of old black and white photographs.
He picks his sights to learn about their history, traditions and culture before choosing a photograph that he will use as the source of inspiration for his artwork.
Working in a photorealistic style, the highly talented artist creates delicate and elegant pieces with an overall atmosphere of melancholy and a deeply sentimental quality.
His work is often informed by photographic reference material that is culturally important to the art he is working in. Paying special attention to details, incorporating specific local elements into his pieces.
When asked how the art piece came to life, van Helten muses. “I don’t think it’s something that has ever been done, and I see shipping constrainers as very interesting objects now. They’re all around the world and they are transient and they move. They have a life of their own. They represent trade and global connections. I see them moving around. I see them at the ports being loaded on ships and they go off and a live a life of their own.”
He concludes: “And those containers, who knows where they’ve been before and how they’ve ended up here?”