Blub Makes Waves in Florence

By Samantha Hughes-Johnson

Blub Makes Waves in Florence

For several years now, an anonymous street artist, known as Blub, appears to have been making waves in and around Florence with a sub-genre of portraiture that he or she terms “l’arte sa nuotare” (art knows how to swim). 

At first glance, these urban portraits appear to show past and present European icons playfully submerged underwater, their famous images still highly recognisable, despite the fact that they are now all portrayed wearing scuba masks. 

In an recent interview with Tiana Kai, Blub revealed some of the social and artistic motivations behind these compelling urban portraits.

“I like for people to have their own interpretation of what the scuba masks on these icons mean. For me, I had a vision. Before I paint I normally rely on these visions that appear in my mind. I perform instinctively, which creates the best art. Then maybe I think about the piece and things can further materialize from there. L’arte sa nuotare, meaning art knows how to swim, is about two ways one can live life, like eros and love or life and death. We can choose to be stuck with fear due to the crisis or we can choose to take it as an opportunity to overcome our limitations while being confidence in the future and in our potential. So, even though it seems like we are all underwater it is time to learn how to swim! Renaissance art in Florence is still strong and hides today’s art that is alive and contemporary, so by using icons of the past with diving masks the theme presents a mix between the past and the contemporary world. There is no need to deny the past in order to look at the present, but at least acknowledge it.”


References: Tiana Kai, ‘Undercover Interview with Italian Artist, Blub, © 2017 Tiana Kai. Mary Gray, ‘Art Takes a Dip,’ The Florentine, January 30 2014.


Images: Blub, Portrait of a Man with a Medal, Florence. Blub, Galileo Galilei, Florence. Blub, Salvador Dali, Florence. Blub, La Belle Ferroniere, Lucca. Blub, The Duke and Duchess of Urbino, Arezzo. 

All images were photographed by Samantha Hughes-Johnson, Instagram, October 2017 and January 2018. 


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