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Reform Magazine | September 19, 2021

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Art in Focus – September 2021

Art in Focus – September 2021

‘Take pride in knowing that your struggle will play the biggest role in your purpose’
Marcus Rashford, 2021
Mural by AKSE P19 www.akse-p19.com

This wall mural of Marcus Rashford in Manchester is by now a familiar image – almost an icon. Street art is still a genre that divides people. Some refuse to call it art at all. Yet this painting demonstrates the way in which public or street art can focus an issue and be owned and responded to by the whole community.

Here is AKSE P19– a French-born graffiti artist of Vietnamese heritage – cleaning and repairing his mural. He has been working in Manchester for 19 years and was largely unknown to the wider art world. But this changed when the Withington Walls Project – a community organisation aiming to reinvigorate the local area – commissioned a mural. AKSE chose to paint a portrait of the footballer Marcus Rashford in recognition of his campaign to end child food poverty in the UK.

Then came England’s defeat at the European Football Championship, when three players missed penalties, including Rashford. Overnight AKSE’s mural was defaced by graffiti, but what followed was a remarkable display of respect and love from the vast majority of Mancunians, as the mural became covered in notes and comments of support. AKSE says: ‘As a street artist I aspire to bring inspiration to the local community through the subjects I paint … to me the face is very much the reflection of the soul.’

Art in focus is curated by Meryl Doney

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This article was published in the September 2021 edition of Reform

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