on first inspection, it’s not always clear what the bigger picture is behind the vast and colorful murals that swiss-based street art team NEVERCREW have become famous for. gargantuan whales, towering polar bears and brilliant bursts of color define their work, and often it’s easy to leave it at that. but the duo — who attended art school together and have been working collaboratively since 1996 — achieve a subtle poignance in their creations that’s more of a whisper than a scream. a whale tangled in a sheet, or wrapped in a colorful cloud of smoke — paintings that at first seem playful reveal a resounding sadness, and continued appreciation of their work exposes an acute and moving criticism of humankind.

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the two have been working collaboratively since 1996

 

 

christian rebecchi and pablo togni met when the two were 15, and started out collaborating on covers for mix-tapes and comics. after graduating from art academy in milan, the pair set about transposing their work to a larger canvas, and began painting their murals full time. NEVERCREW — a moniker the artists had always used to describe their combined efforts — was officially born. since then the artists have created works all over the world and in a variety of different mediums, subtly engaging with the human condition, our relationship to the environment, and the slow and silent effect of human processes on the world around us.  

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NEVERCREW is a name the pair have used for years, and are cryptic about its meaning

 

 

‘the issues that [we] want to examine are closely connected to the base of [our] work: it’s especially a view on the human condition, on the relationship between mankind and nature, between mankind and its nature, and on economic or social systems,’ say the duo on their website. ‘to do so [we] create mechanisms, intended both for their purely mechanical or more figurative sense: working structures made of elements connected one to each other and articulated, structures that recall artificial machinery made by man (with or without a use) as well as the physical essence of nature, social relationships and interactions in general.’

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he artists have created works all over the world and in a variety of different mediums

 

 

NEVERCREW’s talent lies in their ability to hide the problem in plain sight. despite the often blithesome tone of their paintings there’s always something discomfiting about them; the subtlest implication of panic, or pain, or oppression. they use charming cartoons and dry humor to address issues like immigration, water shortages and dwindling natural resources. although diverse in their range of subject matters, the artists identify ‘confrontation’ as a common theme throughout: the concept of alien and opposed elements confronting and conversing with each other.  

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they use dry humor to address issues like immigration, water shortages + dwindling natural resources

 

 

most often these opposing forces are the human and natural worlds: whales are comically stuffed into office blocks, dipped in oil or trapped in layers of whale shaped bubbles. mankind is also pitted against itself, such as in the team’s manchester mural ‘inhuman barriers’, where human figures tumble from the bottom of an enormous crystal. the combinations of images play on the viewer’s emotional memory, generating associative triggers that help to contextualize the juxtaposed elements of the paintings. NEVERCREW populate their fantastical worlds with real life, recognizable objects and mechanisms, demanding — in their absurdity — that we all start talking about the giant whale in the room. 

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giant whales are comically stuffed into office blocks, dipped in oil or trapped in layers of whale shaped bubbles

nevercrew-swiss-street-artists-designboom-02
the combinations of images play on the viewer’s emotional memory

nevercrew-swiss-street-artists-designboom-02
bright colors and playful imagery defines their work

nevercrew-swiss-street-artists-designboom-02
NEVERCREW work in a variety of mediums and dimension

nevercrew-swiss-street-artists-designboom-02
what might at first present itself as a colorful, playful image reveals a more sinister intention

nevercrew-swiss-street-artists-designboom-02
NEVERCREW populate their fantastical worlds with real life, recognizable objects and mechanisms

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christian rebecchi and pablo togni met when the two were 15

nevercrew-swiss-street-artists-designboom-02
despite the often blithesome tone of their paintings there’s always something discomfiting about them

nevercrew-swiss-street-artists-designboom-02
seemingly innocuous items are used to commentate on our relationship to the environment

nevercrew-swiss-street-artists-designboom-02
NEVERCREW’s talent lies in their ability to hide the problem in plain sight

nevercrew-swiss-street-artists-designboom-02
started out collaborating on covers for mix-tapes and comics

nevercrew-swiss-street-artists-designboom-02
the duo achieve a subtle poignance in their creations that’s more of a whisper than a scream

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