The Swiss artist duo Lang/Baumann makes oversized street murals that often run the length of entire city blocks. Using bright color palettes and geometric motifs, they paint works that are best appreciated from a few hundred feet up. But a bird’s-eye glimpse of Lang/Baumman’s urban art isn’t likely to give you much insight into what it all means.
The pair recently completed the seventh in a series of “Street Paintings,” all of which employ massive abstract shapes in unlikely settings. Previously, the artists “tagged” a Swiss village, filling its main traffic arteries with a knotty network of boldly colored lines. Elsewhere, they painted the underbelly of a Berlin bridge with bright shades of pink and lime green.
For their latest, Lang/Baumann have produced a street-long collage in Rennes, France, the ancient capital of Brittany and a town known for its medieval structures and cobblestone streets. The mural, applied directly to the blacktop, consists of jagged lines of alternating colors (fuschia, yellow, white, black and light blue) and occupies Jules Simon Street in downtown Rennes, a small throughway that terminates at the foot of the Palais du Commerce, a stately building that now houses the city’s post office.
“This is a very central spot in Rennes, and it’s interesting because all the sides of the streets are different,” Lang/Baumann tell Co.Design. “On one side along the street you find typical old housing facades, on the opposite a rather modern building with shops and cafes.” The wide neoclassical facade of the post office completes the eclectic urban set piece, which forms a pointed contrast to the artist’s colorful “tapestry.”
The composition, with its electric color scheme and angular lines, plays off road marking patterns meant to alert vehicles to pedestrians. Bright stripes zig-zag down the length of the street, stretching across bike and parking lanes. The new painting eats up virtually half the roadway, inviting pedestrians to abandon the sidewalk and reclaim the street. As Lang and Baumann explain, “the viewer must cross the work, walk over the painting to get near [to observe it].” In doing so, “the viewer becomes part of the work, as well as the painting becomes part of a landscape.”