Three months after he began with a mysterious pair of child's eyes, muralist BiP (Believe in People) has finished his fourth mural in San Francisco. And it's a conversation piece to be sure.
The mural, which is near the foot of Franklin Street and visible from Oak, depicts a gender-ambiguous child with a curious but serious expression on their face, holding a serious looking handgun and wearing a police uniform, wearing what appears to be a child's version of a body cam, in pink. It's obviously some type of commentary on guns and police violence, but there's no obvious message here — and we know from this earlier SF mural that BiP likes to play with juxtapositions of child faces and adult bodies. It's art! But it is sure to find some detractors because of the kid-with-a-gun aspect.
"I carried this piece in the back of my head for years," BiP writes on Instagram. "I kept practicing putting an adult expression on a child not really able to nail it, until I understood the image itself was about contrast and internal disagreement. When I made that understanding, I threw my old color studies and rebuilt the painting out of direct contrasts to echo that confliction [sic]."
The mural, he goes on to explain is all about visual dichotomies. "So in this image you’ll find: sunlight vs. darkness, real vs. imaginary, infant vs. adult, confusion vs. resolve, innocence vs. guilt, feminine vs. masculine, dangerous vs. toy, fate vs. free choice."
He also says that there are echoes in the paint itself, like "organic vs. inorganic textures, saturated vs. unsaturated colors, and warm vs. cool hues in extremes."
We learned back in August via Hoodline that BiP co-financed this piece himself, and it will be pretty temporary. The parking lot just below it is a development site, across from the SF Conservatory of Music, and a residential building is set to start construction there in about a year.
Since he first started working in the Bay Area, which he calls home, BiP's profile has grown around the world. He's had commissions in the last few years in Russia, Spain, Peru, Brazil, and Columbia, all of which you can see here.
BiP isn't bothered by the fact that critics and people on the street might not get what he was after with this one. He writes, "Maybe the art critics aren’t interested in taking public work to this level — I get the feeling they aren’t prepared to classify murals that way. So if people just say 'oh cool' and move on that’s awesome I’m thankful to give someone a few seconds out of their day I would never be above that. But if people want to sit there and get lost in the painting that’s where I’m at with public art."
What say you, San Francisco?