L’arte sa Nuotare -art knows how to swim- is a project by Italian street artist Blub (Bloob). Anyone who has been to Firenze in the last few years has likely seen Blub’s work plastered onto the city’s sportelli di gas e di luce- the metallic doors of gas and electrical panels. I was recently in Firenze with my nipotina Isabella. We were constantly on the lookout for ‘Blubi’ (BLOO•bee). It was like a scavenger hunt! We even spotted a few in Lucca, but none in Siena. No one has met mysterious street artist Blub. All we know about Blub is that he…..or she….. is from Firenze and is a talented artist with a fun, quirky sense of humour.Blub’s series “L’arte sa Nuotare’ takes famous works of art and gives them a new look, immersing them underwater, complete with blue background, snorkel masks and bollicine-bubbles!
More recent works receiving the Blub treatment are contemporary icons such as the kiss from La Dolce Vita, Freddie Mercury and Amy Winehouse. Blubi have a magnetic attraction to anyone passing by. The works are not graffiti painted directly onto the precious, crumbling renaissance walls. Blub paints 1 original acrylic on canvas or metal, then makes posters in sizes to fit the sportelli and pastes them up with 100% plant based glue. Sportelli also provide ready made frames.
How did this series start? According to a February 2019 interview (in Italiano) with Firenze Urban Lifestyle Magazine, Blub claims that for fun, the first ‘masked’ triad were Da Vinci works-La Gioconda (aka Mona Lisa), Dama con l’ermellino, and a self portrait of Leonardo. One night, with the help and encouragement of friends, they were pasted up on sportelli in the San Niccolò area.
It was originally a way of remembering the flood of the Arno in 1966 and the saving of Firenze’s priceless artwork from the muddy water that ravaged the city. That night ‘l’arte non affoga’ (art does not drown) became ‘l’arte sa nuotare’.
Aside from the reference to the 1966 flood, the series brings together the past and contemporary world, pays tribute to the personality of Firenze and is dedicated to those who find solutions in a sea of difficulty. The expression ‘sink or swim’ comes to mind.
Water generates life and is a symbol of rebirth and purification. Time stands still underwater, placing the immersed works that have left their mark and survive today in another dimension. With this series of work, Blub is trying to incite curiosity rather than controversy.
Blub hunting will now also be possible in Napoli! Blub has 6 new works on display at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli until August 31! Frescoes from Pompeii underwater! I will definitely try to see this exhibit! Update! I did make it to Napoli. Read about it in Blub a Napoli. I hope you enjoyed this Blub photo exhibit! Have you had the pleasure of finding Blubi? If you like to view artwork al fresco and un po’ bagnato, happy Blub hunting! More Blub images are available on instagram #lartesanuotare.
*La Dolce Vita photo taken by Shannon Milar in Lucca. All other photos taken by me in Firenze, except the Amedeo Modigliani which was taken in Lucca.