Meeting the Heart of London's Street Art

May 28, 2014  |  By Daria Istoc, Romania


Wanna play a game? It’s not hard, I swear. All you need to bring with you is your imagination. Paint in your mind this image: You’re in a crowded place, most specifically, London. You’re  sitting on the pavement, looking from the bottom at the world passing by. No thoughts, just some colors simply crossing your mind. Stuck in a story; not knowing where it begins or where it ends. You’re the only element of this movie that’s not moving. Next to you’s an annoyng mime that does the same trick day by day. When you’re not too busy fighting you inner demons, you can hear a song slowly, probably from Disney Chanel, or something like that; a thing meant to spoil your mind and creativity. Take care!

As you stay there, you look to your right and see a huge box filled with colored chalk. Which one shall you choose? After a few hesitative gestures, you pick one up and start drawing... A cat, a green monster, a heart, a smile, a cloud..

What you experienced trough your imagination is Jonathan’s reality, a 57 year old man’s life. He’s an artist who decided to draw in front of The National Gallery, an art museum on Trafalgar Square, in London, founded in 1824. What does his art consist of?  He draws a huge heart, like the one that beats through the John Lennon quotes that Jonathan decides to write down every morning. His heart has been there for over 13 years. It says „All you need is love”, a message by The Beatles that can be understood by anyone and cannot be misinterpreted.

I found him as a traveler, a tourist attracted by his work and uniqueness. When I first met him, he captivated my spirit with his question: „How long ago was it in a dream? I took a trip through the clouds, to a wind whispered tree, and I felt, feel, feel, feel”.

He made me realize something: every artist has an interesting story. A dark side that makes him create. Artists are people convicted to feel. Everything. Every part of life, at a different level. He taught me that what’s bad for your heart is good for your art, and that it doesn’t matter what’s happening in your life, as long as it makes you create.

Because he’s a part of this category, I made him tell me the story of this life, which isn’t a soft one. “Several people rejected my art, so I decided to move to Japan, where I lived for 5 years. Of course, I wasn’t very lucky there either, so I moved back in London, where all my friends and family were taken away from me, by death. While looking at the people passing by my art and reading my quotes, I told to myself:  it doesn’t matter how sad life is, it’s still beautiful. I realised it’s not important where your art is. It’s important to be seen by everyone, so I started drawing on the pavement, decided to stay simple and true to myself. I took what life gave me and made the best of it, because I knew I had a gift, a talent that needs to be pursued.”

Another time I saw Jonathan he was with a girl, smoking her cigarette, while chatting with Jonathan, having the same interests as I did. After I got to know her, I found out she was a non-conformist person, called Lilly. Her uniqueness consists in doing what goes to her mind, not caring about the consequences that follow her actions. She told me about her Italian boyfriend and how they both decided to shave their heads for the cancer people. I don’t think many people would do that, because they care more about the outside than the inside. Even though she lived in London since she was a little girl, this was the first time she decided to hang out with Jonathan’s art. With that, I realized that people with the same interests and way of thinking, always find each other. It doesn’t matter how far they are.

She was doing a study about people who smoke. While she was interviewing some people about their guilty pleasures, she found Jonathan, and she was attracted by his work. She spoke to him, received some tips and drawing techniques, while doing some art sharing. So, apparently, I wasn’t the only one whose eye the English artist caught.

Jonathan encouraged me to live in the moment; not in the past, not in the future. I think he’s an example for the artists around the world, all who are afraid to express themselves, because after all, art is a part of the world, not apart from it. It is an idea that belongs to everyone. It’s a concept found in every culture, whatever form it might take. It’s the very description of the lives we lead. It sudies the world, all its manifestations, and renders back to us not simply how to see, but how to react to what we know as a consequence of the seeing.

More articles by this author

Write your comment here

*All Comments require approval. So your comment will not be visible instantly, but only after admin approval.