She handles the roller brush with ease and climbs the scaffolds like a dancer. He’s the master of detail, giving life to the characters they create. They are dynamic duo, Hera and Akut, street artists from Germany who are famous around the globe for their brilliantly poetic and astoundingly beautiful wall paintings. They came to Manila last week, August 3-11, and held an exhibit at Vinyl on Vinyl, live painting sessions at Fully Booked, BGC and talks at a couple of universities. Kayo (Thanks to his job. Check Honeycomb here) had the awesome privilege of filming them during their entire trip so I also had the chance to meet them and watch them work. I must say that it was a very inspiring experience.
I’ve only really come across photographs of their murals and time-lapse videos of them painting online but when Kayo told me more about Herakut and who they are some time last month, I got hooked. I was never really into weird creatures or dark images but after looking through Herakut’s pieces and after having read about the message behind what they create, I’ve developed a fresh appreciation for the style and for street art as a whole. The paintings are surreal but their message is very relevant, very human.
One of my favorites is their series of paintings called Happy Doubt Day from 2010. It’s so whimsical and playful but there’s a sadness to it that makes you look into yourself and realize: I know exactly what they’re talking about.
Instead of struggling with doubt as such, we put a hat on it! (Doubtful thoughts are better than none, right?)– Herakut, After the Laughter
Their Manila tour was entitled Beauty is a Sanctuary and i think it’s perfect because there is a sort of holiness to the art they make. Like a church or community, it brings different types of people from different lives and backgrounds together, united in the thoughts and the feelings that their paintings summon and produce. Through their paintings Herakut says things people always think and feel but are afraid to talk about. No wonder everybody everywhere gravitates to them and their work.
With the opportunity given us to see them do what they do in person and even hang out with them, Kayo and I took in everything we could — the style, the skill, the technique, the message, the colors, the music, the vibe, the company, the conversations, the friendship. We shared meals together and heard about the way they do things and what inspires them. They played with our kids and we talked about our families. In that brief time, we shared our lives with them and theirs with us. Somehow, in the middle of it all, I’d forgotten that they are rockstar artists and began to see them just as they are — two people doing what they love, helping people connect. They were amazing artists with superb vision and skill but they were also broken, imperfect and struggling people who wrestle with life just as much as anybody. So I think what makes them even more amazing is their ability to take their weakness and transform it into something beautiful, into something that speaks hope and life to those who see it. That, to me, is powerful.
To close, I leave you with one of their most powerful quotes:
Art does not help people. People help people – Herakut, Berlin 2010
Check out the videos Kayo made of Herakut in Manila: