When people in the US think of “street art”, they often are imagining someone who performs their art on the street. However, the street artist Eltono doesn’t perform on the street — he decorates it. Eltono, an internationally recognized street artist, has also been described as a “graffiti artist.” But unlike a lot of graffiti you’ll find, Eltono’s work is anything but vandalism.
Eltono, whose name is Spanish for “the tone”, is best known for painting a geometric representation of a tuning fork on buildings, rail sides, or any surface you would find in a modern city. His work first began in the city of Madrid in 1999, but it can now be found in cities all over Europe, South America, and Korea.
Unlike most graffiti artists, Eltono’s art is subtle and understated. In fact, if his work isn’t pointed out to you, it’s likely you’ll miss it. Eltono does this on purpose — his art is a statement against the strident and overly-colorful street art that is commonly associated with the word “graffiti” here in the United States.
Eltono’s art is different partially because his technique is different. Rather than using spray paint for his work, which can be imprecise and typically force an artist to work in rounded shapes, Eltono uses plastic paint and masking tape to create his art. This technique allows him to create perfectly straight lines and geometric shapes, contributing to his unique style.
The art that Eltono creates seems to draw attention to obvious differences on a city surface. Imagine, for example, a brick wall with boarded over windows, where each board is of a different wood. Or imagine a building that has been made of brick, wood, and steel. Eltono will mark these surfaces and draw attention to the discrepancies.
Eltono will decorate the scenes described with a simple collection of lines and shapes, drawing a sharp contrast to the typical “tagging” that one would expect to see when they think of graffiti. Perhaps his emphasis on subtlety has helped him gain the international recognition he enjoys.
Like all good art, Eltono’s work generates more questions than it answers. Does Eltono work in geometric shapes to draw attention to the harsh city environment? Is their a political statement? Because Eltono’s chosen medium is often associated with vandalism, will his work receive the attention it deserves? While only time will tell, Eltono’s work certainly deserves your attention now.