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Street art travels the globe, leaving positive and beautiful marks in cities all over Europe. Enter the exciting world of street art and discover one of the most trending art movements in Europe! The EU Delegation to Armenia, as part of the Europe Day 2016 celebrations, organised a workshop for people who love thinking outside the box and are passionate about colours and a free lifestyle. Well-known European street art artist Atomo (Davide Tinelli) from Milan came to Armenia to hold this workshop. Atomo is one of the first Italian artists who has explored various kinds of tagging and street art. Atomo is very active in the local socio-political scene, promoting numerous cultural and artistic exhibitions and contributing to the spreading of street art – even in public institutions.
13227078_1028712043849391_3582499359326975555_nOn the first day of Atomo’s workshop, young people learned about street art’s history, its different styles and forms after which they had the chance to practise with Atomo in an urban environment. We also attended the workshop and had an interview with him.

It is already your third day in Yerevan, how are you finding it?

Yerevan is full of art masterpieces, statues, paintings… For me, as an artist, it has been very interesting to come here and see this ancient land and capital. The most interesting part of the Europe Day events has been cultural exchange – I’m talking about what I’ve done in Italy and I simultaneously pick up new ideas from here – I’m continuously inspired.

Have you done workshops with young people before this one?

I am so happy to be able to work with groups of young people and create something new. I have given a lot of master classes in Barcelona and several Italian cities. Participants were students of the arts, as well as interested amateurs. It has not been difficult for me to run workshops in Armenia, despite the difference in culture, because art is something that unites people and has no boundaries.

13304985_1030304500356812_386968937055307554_oHave you noticed any street art in Yerevan?
Yes, I have noticed that street art exists in Yerevan, there are many illustrated arches that have been done in a very professional way. Some of them are a little bit primitive, but every work is an art, no one is born as an expert, and people have to work constantly to develop more. Street art is contemporary art, which unites the whole world, it is everywhere – from Africa to Europe. Street art plays a very big role in people’s lives when you walk and see colourful streets; it makes life more colourful and people need more colour in their lives.

What do these kind of workshops give you?
It’s a two-way experience. Young people always have new ideas. I give them my knowledge and accumulated experience, and I gain from their ideas and fantasies. There are many borders between Europe and Armenia – one of them is in the Schengen area, the other is not. However, the internet has no limits, so they can always be in touch with each other, simultaneously communicate and exchange ideas.

Italian artist Fabio Zanino visited Armenia to feature in the Europe Day celebrations in 2015 and to share his experience with Armenians.
Fabio Zanino is an Italian sculptor and painter based in Torino, Italy. His stylistic inspiration is the metamorphosis of material. An important element in Zanino’s style is the concepts of “Contexture” (context, background and texture) or de-contextualisation of texture. His series Deconstructions mark the transition from the movement of time to the shaping of visual forms.
Zanino held 4 masterclasses during his visit: in Vanadzor on 16 May; in Gyumri on 17 May; 11102671_847200038667260_4319712069844869690_nat the Tumo Centre on 19 May in Yerevan; a final one took place on 21 May. The main idea behind the masterclasses was to promote art which sees beyond the obvious, using waste and discarded objects to create into pieces of art! Zanino first introduced masterclass participants to the details underpinning his art, and then taught them how to create art from recycled materials.
Before the masterclass in Yerevan we managed to ask Fabio some questions about his visit to Armenia.

Is it your first time in Armenia?
Yes, this in my first time in Armenia, so barev [hello], Yerevan!
What was your first reaction, your first impression when you received an email and there was an invitation to Armenia?
My first reaction was to go on Google and find out anything about Armenia, see where it is on Google maps. No, no, I’m joking [laughing]. I know Armenia as a region, but I didn’t know Armenian history deeply. I am happy that I have had an opportunity to explore. Now, when I am here, I can say that this country is really very beautiful and it has very strong heritage. I also had an opportunity to visit historic places such as Tatev monastery, Noravank and other places and also two beautiful cities where I had my workshops – Gyumri and Vanadzor.
10403534_847211275332803_2925273496505675453_nYou’ve already worked with many Armenian young people. Have you had successful dialogue?
They are very collaborative. Many of them didn’t have a pop art background and I am happy that they have learned new things. The results of what they have created during the workshops are not so important; rather the way in which they relate to art is more important. They can keep it all in their mind, remember this new technique and continue to create their own pieces of art.
Your visit is part of the Europe Day celebrations and it is also about the EU-Armenia cooperation. What do you think your visit can bring to this cooperation?
An artist is a person who creates something and is close to art. You know, as an artist, I’m sharing my inspiration with people and get inspiration in return, especially from children. This is all about cooperation. I liked Armenia, and I liked Tumo where I held my workshop with children, and I’d like to come back to Armenia one day.

Fabio will also take part in the overnight performance on 23 May at Northern Avenue from 19:00, so don’t forget to come and watch!

The launch of the “Exchange of Painters” project took place on 1 September at Akanat gallery. This project is aimed at promoting art relations between Armenia and Turkey; as part of the project a group of four artists mentored by Gagik Charchyan from Armenia and Serdar Yilmaz from Turkey were selected to participate in the exchange.

During the 7-day exchange participants will visit different sites in Yerevan and around the country – Garni temple, Geghard monastery, and Gyumri, the cultural capital of Armenia. The visit will include interactive workshops, joint flash-mob painting sessions, open-air studios, and public space exhibitions where the works of artists can be viewed by guests and passers-by. Additionally, a series of masterclasses by renowned artists from Armenia will be held. The final stage of the exchange project will involve the two groups cooperating on a selected wall in Yerevan using street art concepts and technologies to reflect their impressions and perceptions of the time spent together during the stay.
The Charge d’affaires at the EU Delegation in Armenia, Dirk Lorenz, said: ‘The EU strongly believes in the success of this project. I am happy to see that we managed to create a group of such professionals from both countries. The dialogue between Armenia and Turkey is crucial for citizens on both sides of the border. Art is a perfect tool to blur borders and establish constructive dialogue – art does not need translation, it is an international language’. He added that the Delegation was hopeful that similar projects would lead to greater friendship and solidarity between the two peoples.

This first part of the exchange will be followed by a return visit of the Armenian team to Turkey in late September. The paintings produced during the exchange visits will be later be placed in a 2015 calendar.

The current exchange programme is being carried out within the framework of the “Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process” programme, implemented by a consortium of eight civil society organisations from both countries with financial support from the European Union. The objective of the programme is to promote civil society efforts towards the normalisation of relations between Turkey and Armenia.