We’re pumped to announce that the work of street artist, Fanakapan, is now available at Enter Gallery. Fanakapan’s incomparable free-hand spray painting skills allow him to paint objects, most famously – balloons, in such a hyper-realistic style that they appear like optical illusions.
In today’s blog, we’re introducing you to ‘The Pioneer of Balloon Graff’, and telling you everything you need to know about his art.
Imagine being so handy with a spray can that your street art has the capacity to trick the human eye. This is the exact talent that’s earned Fanakapan a reputation on the urban contemporary art scene, and has seen him invited around the world to create his mind-boggling masterpieces.
‘I always like it if people say that at first they thought it was real.’
Fanakapan’s 3D pieces, created using an unparalleled use of shadow and reflective highlights, are so realistic people actually have to reach out and touch the artworks to confirm they aren’t real.
Fanakapan has been creating art for as long as he can remember. Entirely self-taught, he started off doing stencil work in his hometown of Dorset, before getting into working with spray paint in the early 2000s.
‘I have always been an artist for as long as I can remember, at one point that turned into vandalism, then that developed into street art which seems to be moving into urban contemporary art.’
It was during his time spent working as a prop maker in the television industry that Fanakapan nurtured this unique talent for breathing life into everyday objects. We asked him to tell us about the first time he turned his artistic talents towards painting balloons:
‘I started painting balloons in about 2008 when working for Nickelodeon as a prop maker. I painted a wedding venue for a work colleague and the theme for the venue was Dogs and Ducks.’
‘My friend painted the ducks and I did different styles of dogs. My plan was to paint a hot dog, a balloon dog and a real dog looking confused with the ‘imposters’. The balloon dog looked so realistic, I carried on painting them in the street... that led to more and more experiments with textures and running with balloons. Now, I think like a prop maker and paint objects with my own style and reason attached.’
While he reveals that some of his works allude to larger messages, depending on what he’s painting and where he’s painting it, what he really enjoys is people deciding for themselves what they think each piece is trying to communicate. He states:
‘I get some pretty strange suggestions from different minds and I like it like that.’
Of course, we can’t finish this article without discussing Fanakapan’s highly unusual name. Unless you’re reading this in Lincolnshire – where apparently Fanakapan is a term of endearment - you might be wondering where this artist’s name hails from and what on earth it means…
When we dug into the name, we discovered that the name Fanakapan has cropped up a couple of times in popular culture – it was the name of a racehorse and was mentioned in a Spike Milligan poem, but is that what inspired the artist to adopt this moniker? He reveals:
‘My mother used to call my sister ‘Fanny Fanakapan’ – you know, ‘come on, Fanny Fanakapan. We’re going to be late!’ type thing. There was also a wartime song called ‘Fred Fanakapan’ by Gracie Fields, which explains the useless nature of a man I’m assuming was her husband. I liked the word and thought it sounded a bit strange so it suited my imagination quite well.’
‘2022 is looking bright. I’m really looking forward to having my biggest UK solo show so far in August with Enter Gallery. I’ve also got a few walls planned. The walls are closer to home than the more further afield destinations I’ve painted in like Australia, Japan and Mexico, but a wall is a wall, I’m just keen to be as productive and positive as possible.’
Shop Fanakapan's prints here.
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