Art for a Cause

Art for a Cause

Why you should care

Good art captures the imagination and the mind.

From street graffiti in Yemen to a transgender dancer in India to revolutionary African depictions, the global art scene is showing it can take any number of forms — and take on any cause. Violence cowers next to murals made by the masses. Privilege evaporates when woven into tapestries of vibrant color. And lyrical movement squashes discrimination. To find out what’s inspiring the world’s most creative and philosophical minds, check out our collection of stories highlighting the most significant art currently on the global market.

The Banksy of Yemen

Among the bullet holes and crumbling facades of Yemen’s capital are colorful murals with messages of hope and calls for civic action. And behind them is Murad Subay, a 27-year-old painter known as “Yemen’s Banksy.” Unlike the graffiti of the famed U.K. street artist, though, Subay’s images are collective projects. And by inviting others to join, he has managed to create more than 2,000 murals in less than three years. Read more here.

African Beauty, Now

In galleries from Miami’s Art Basel to London’s Tate, African art is attracting more eyeballs, dollars and Western display space than ever before. This is not tribal art, like masks and wooden sculptures. Instead, the most talked-about pieces challenge power, look steely-eyed at notions of class and female beauty, imagine different racial histories and historicize global capitalism and trade. They aim to implicate their viewers — especially those with privilege. Read more here.

Mesma Belsare Updates the Indian Classics

There’s plenty to be entranced by on Mesma Belsare’s small frame: 6 pounds of temple jewelry, kohl-lined eyes, riotous silk dressings. Yet most people focus on a part of her that isn’t obvious at first glance but that shocks, because this woman — who performs India’s most ancient feminine art form — was born, in cosmic error, a man. Considering India hasn’t done LGBT so well recently, Belsare’s place as a cultural figure is as captivating as the hypnotizing sway of her hips. Read more here.

This Artist Paints With His Own Blood

The 30-year-old Polish Michał Szyksznian considers himself “more a thinker who happens to do art.” His paintings and illustrations — sometimes electric, sometimes sublime but always sly in their use of colors — are noted for their occasionally transgressive, sexualized subject material. “There’s a lot of literary culture behind his work, and most of it is ‘linked’ with many different senses, contexts and philosophical allusions,” says writer Alan Sasinowski. Read more here.

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