Translated from Dutch NOS TV:
‘Banksy‘ of Yemen: with my graffiti I want to cover up bullet holes in walls
If you’re walking down the street in Sanaa, capital of Yemen, you can not ignore the works of the ‘Banksy of Yemen’. The buildings may be destroyed by all the bombing, but they are not ugly: on the walls is still the graffiti art of Murad Subay.
“When in 2011 the war began, it broke many hearts,” Murad tells the NOS. “But not only hearts were broken, also houses and streets. At that moment I decided to go on the road and to start making graffiti art. I wanted to cover up the ugliness of the war. To make the bullet holes disappear into the wall. I succeeded in that through graffiti.”
Some works by Murad are purely artistic, others have political overtones. The artist invites residents of Sanaa also to help with the artwork. “So people can make their voices heard and express their opinion about the war. Art is not just entertainment, it can be used for so much more stuff. Art gives a voice and provides communication, especially if people can see it so clearly in the street.”
The 29-year-old Murad lives with his parents, three sisters and four brothers in a house in Sanaa. He studied English and got his diploma in 2012.
“I started drawing when I was 13. My parents encouraged me, and thus I could teach myself a lot of things. In 2012 I made my first graffiti work, resulting in a campaign so I could make work all across Sanaa.”
The war has changed a lot, he adds. “It has so much effect on me. On all people.” Murad cites the shortage of basic necessities such as electricity and water, and the economic consequences of the war.
“These things have a big impact on me personally, but also on my work. It is no longer possible to travel freely in Yemen. It is also sometimes far too dangerous to be on the street to make the work.” …
Murad has already gained much fame in Yemen, he is also called the ‘Banksy of Yemen’. “Banksy is a great artist, a genius. My work resembles that by him because we use the same technique. But the way we work is different,” Murad says.
“I want to involve as many people as possible in my art. If I make a work of art and people walk past, then I invite them always to help me and give their opinion. This allows us to launch a political debate in a non-violent way.”