The word “graffiti” is often associated with vandalism. However, for modern street artist Eltono, graffiti is just another word for art. That’s because Eltono’s work can be found painted onto buildings and walls, in the same places one would expect to find graffiti. But don’t be fooled — Eltono’s work is more than just graffiti — it’s modern art.
Eltono, Spanish for “the tone”, is an artist who is known for painting a uniquely geometric and abstract version of a tuning fork as graffiti. Eltono, beginning in Madrid in 1999, has spread his work all over Europe, South America, and Korea painting buildings, walls, rail sides, and any other surface you can find in a modern city.
When many people think of graffiti, they envision bright colors and big shapes that can be overpowering. Eltono’s work is a statement against this type of graffiti — his work is subtle and understated. Eltono does such a wonderful job of keeping his work simple that it’s possible you could walk by it and never notice it.
Part of the reason that Eltono’s work is so different from other street artists is that he uses a different technique. While many of his contemporaries use spray paint, which usually renders art that is bulbous and rounded, Eltono uses plastic paint and masking tape. These materials allow him to create art that is linear and geometric, making his work stylistically unique.
Eltono’s work seems to draw one’s eye to obvious discrepancies in the cityscape. For example, one can imagine a brick wall with windows that have been haphazardly boarded over by previously weathered plywood. Perhaps it’s easier to imagine the side wall of a building, constructed of different types of brick, lumber, and iron. These are both common sights on a run-down block of any major city. For Eltono, these scenes are a blank canvas.
Once Eltono has discovered his canvas, he will paint a variety of geometric shapes and straight lines to draw illustrate the inherent discrepancies of the surface. But his work is in sharp contrast to graffiti because it is so subtle, and this characteristic may be the reason Eltono has received wide international recognition.
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.