Message Behind the Mark

February 18, 2009

Up until now I have just been showing off some things I like, not really talking about why, not really going into the meaning behind anything. For this post I have chosen to stick with graffiti but talk a bit in depth about one of my favorite works from Italy. It is an anti-war piece done by an artist simply known as Phorm.



Text is used in this piece to express an idea. It also gives the audience a fact about the war in Iraq. Three words done in red stand out against the white background. “SUFFER”, “WAR”, and “MONEY”. These words are meant to stand out for a reason. The artist isn’t just leaving some arbitrary piece of art on a wall, he is leaving a message, a thought. In the quote he is telling us about collateral damage caused by war, the innocence lost in battle. “OIL” is written three times, suggesting the true meaning behind the war, and the cause of all the suffering. All of the text is linked together through a deeper meaning, a meaning that is not hard to figure out.


The artist carefully chose the colors for this piece, which is evident in the small color pallet. Red, black and brown are the prominent colors against the white background. The red signifies blood which is used in a lot of anti-war murals such as this one. It is the universal color for pain and blood. Black is used to represent darkness and possibly death. Looking closely you can see a small black tank in the mural, kind of silhouetted as commonly seen in war art. The black Arabic text is similar to that seen in the streets in Iraq, but I will get to that later on. In the quote, red is used to emphasize the civilian deaths. I think the brown used kind of represents the Middle East. It is a common color and is often associated with that region and I think that’s why the artist chose to use that color for the child. The graffiti text in the middle of the mural (which says “IRAQ”) is also done in the brown, possibly for the same reasons.

The Mural:

When I look at the mural I kind of get a Middle Eastern graffiti feel. To me this work feels like a tribute to Iraq, and possibly Iraqi graffiti. It may sound like a long shot but when you look at images of Iraq you see a lot of black Arabic text written on white and tan walls. It is also subtle but if you look closely, especially to the right of the work, you can see that this mural is painted over some older work.


There may be no significance in relation to the war here but it is interesting to see a mural over a mural, a mark over a mark. Although the older mural is painted over, it will ALWAYS be there, as will this new work. The artist is forever a part of the town or city, more specifically the location they do their work on. The artist has left a piece of themselves here, especially in this mural, as they are leaving a piece of their mind, their thoughts and ideas.

Corey L.