The Tiniest Brutalist Sculptures from 3x3x3 // BSA in Hong Kong / Dispatch 2

When you spot one of these palm-sized concrete sculptures on the street in Hong Kong they may remind you of Brutalist architecture or the dense clustering of concrete beehives like so many of this cities’ neighborhoods.

The tiny formations by UK Street Artist Steev Saunders aka 3x3x3 may point you toward the man-made environment, but they may also recall organic shapes, sort of like industrial barnacles which attach themselves to the bodies of factory-whales during their free-swimming concrete larval stage.

These could be hi/low tech sensors of the city environment, in much the same way as Hong Kong ocean scientists use selected barnacles as biomonitors to measure concentrations of trace metals like arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, silver, zinc.

3 x 3 x 3. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

3x3x3 has worked as a sculptor and sound designer with complex creations that employ fundamentalist mechanics in rather a Steam-Punkian manner and style. On the street simply as “3” he has used a triad of sprayed repetitions of stenciled symbols and the numeral 3 as well as larger complex tags formed with rebar that is fired and pounded and beaten and bent into outlines.

These smaller pieces are so understated that they may well be overlooked, but once you discover them you are tempted to childhood, playing with your toys, imagining all the tiny people who live within them and realizing what a gargantuan giant you have become.

3 x 3 x 3. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Certainly these expressions of the creative spirit on the street are not easily grouped with the massive murals that have characterized the rise of so-called Street Art festivals, and their humble simplicity and scale makes the impact that much more impressive.

An invited exhibiting artist in the formal inside exhibition at HKWalls this year, 3x3x3 tells us that these pieces on the street art not only recalling his experience of the city, but also the country.

What inspires these small sculptures? Architecture? Materials? Comic books?
3x3x3: Architecture is the inspiration behind the concrete pieces, as you can see around, HK is packed with the stuff. Yeah they are brutalist style but in a delicate way. I’m not a fan of giant skyscrapers, I like the countryside, mountains and rocks.

Have you watched someone discover one of these pieces? How do they react?
3x3x3: I haven’t watched anyone discover the pieces. They are so small I think few people notice them and I often put them in positions where they blend into the surroundings, I like that they can be unnoticed but in plain view. Some government workers have even painted around them.

You have also tagged with a metal cutout of the number “3”. Are you the 3rd child in the family?
3x3x3: Ha ha , I’m not the 3rd but I like the number, it has many graphic possibilities , it’s a nice shape and it’s a lucky number too. In the graffiti scene it’s all about getting your name up so I thought “I’ll be just a number”.

There is a rebar sculpture in the fine art show for HK Walls. Can you talk about your interest in art that takes a third dimension in public space?
3x3x3: I’ve always been interested in sculpture, making stuff is fun and the processes bring up new ideas. Welding and bending steel is physically demanding so I don’t focus on that exclusively. In 1995 I started carving spirals into wet concrete whenever I came across it, which was fairly often in HK. When street art started to become noticed more I was inspired but wanted to do something unique so in 2003 I put up my first concrete pieces.

3 x 3 x 3. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
3 x 3 x 3. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
3 x 3 x 3. HK Walls. Hong Kong – March 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
How to Detect a Brutalist Building by Charles Humphries (© Charles Humphries)

HKWalls and Hong Kong stories come to you courtesy BSA in Partnership with Urban Nation (UN)

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