“To do the art form justice we chose
to really take our time and let things
happen in the film. We wanted to give
the characters the opportunity to tell
stories they care about and felt the
strong urge to share with us.”
One night, three and a half years before the release of our film the phone rang. Peter Westerink called to ask whether we were interested in making a short educational film about street painting the day after. After a brief and passionate story about the art form I got curious and agreed to do it. There was hardly any time for preparation, so the next day I arrived with very little knowledge about what to expect.
What I have seen and experienced that day I got to see many more times in the years that followed, in many different forms and all over the world: an artist unpacks his equipment, sits down on the street and starts working on what will become a beautiful piece of art in a few hours. Then the artist packs his stuff again, takes another good look at the piece and takes off, leaving the artwork behind to let it gradually fade over time.
This is where my fascination for this art form and these artists started. Initially, the ephemeral nature of the art form fascinated me. This was soon followed by many more things that caught my interest: the physical sacrifice the artists are willing to make, the drive of the artists, the magic and beauty of witnessing the art as it is being created and the impact it has on the public are just a few examples.
When initiator Peter Westerink not much later asked us whether we wanted to make a documentary about street painting we diligently started this wonderful adventure. As filmmakers we started doing research and look for answers to our questions: what is the essence of this art form, who are these people, what drives them, what unites them, why is the art form growing so rapidly worldwide and what is the philosophy behind it all. This research formed the basis for the story that we made.
To us it was important to make Gesso a story of our time, but with respect for the long and interesting history and tradition. We chose to capture the art form and the art scene through the eyes of artists. We therefore tried to come as close to the characters as possible. The diverse set of characters let us make really personal portraits about their lives, the circumstances in which they find themselves and the cultural background they represent. Thanks to their willingness to contribute to this project we could really tell the bigger story of street painting worldwide.
sander de nooij
founder & director film du noir | co-founder coldsun productions