John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Artist Herbert Baglione is slowly covering the world in eerie wraith-creatures.
The last time this site checked in with São Paulo's Herbert Baglione, he was covering an abandoned mental institution with apparitions that themselves looked to be the product of a fevered mind. The artist has since moved from painting in decrepit, spider web-strewn environments and into the public square, although the results are no less unsettling.
Baglione was in Frankfurt recently to participate in the Schirn gallery's "Street Art Brazil," a celebration of graffiti and outdoor interventions involving 11 of South America's urban maestros. While some of the visiting muralists created intricate geometric patterns, a big swollen head, and what appears to be multicolored stacks of unfolded laundry, Baglione stuck to form by continuing his "1,000 Shadows" series: paintings of demonic wraiths that twist and curl like restless black leeches.
The phantoms stretch along a walking path in the central Hauptwache plaza, glaring up through slit eyes at pedestrians who tread on their unholy bodies. The artwork is an appropriate complement to the nearby Hauptwache building, a baroque structure that was once a prison and the site of a student rebellion that ended in several killings. (Today it serves light snacks to commuters and tourists.) The shadows will be weirding out the plaza's visitors until the exhibition ends, on October 27.
As to why Baglione is obsessed with spreading creepy beings through the world – he's released them in Brazil, Paris, Madrid, and other European locales – he told Schirn in a translated interview that his favorite themes are "sexuality, faith, death, chaos," all fun stuff that's evident in his paintings. Have a look at how he transformed Frankfurt's main plaza into a staging ground for the dark arts; be warned there's at least one instance of really messed-up ghost genitalia:
Images from Herbert Baglione on Facebook