After a successful exhibition in Paris with over 100,000 visitors, the colors festival created by artist Combo, has come to the UK which opened on the 19 May in Salford based at Regent Retail Park. The exhibition is being held in a former outlet store and involves 32 artists from across the world – with at least half of the artists being local to Manchester.
The exhibition holds XXL works, with some art taking up entire walls or rooms and is described as “a unique experience that celebrates artistic diversity and individual expression”. The exhibition is unique in that the works are interactive and viewers are encouraged to touch, play, and even sit on the art!
The start of the exhibition takes you through a dark tunnel entrance with fairy lights and leads to a simple arrangement of paintings in frames on the wall. There are graffiti tags on the wall, making the street art aspect really come to life, and these are interspersed with art mixed in with the graffiti.
The room after it utilises the corners of the room with some reflective artwork by artist Farid Rueda, who likes to use geometry combined with nature.
Then as you go to the next room, things start getting a little more interesting. You are greeted with a message on the wall reading: “among the flowers and bees, the Queen of bees and three gold bees are hiding”. This artwork is an interactive seeking game – luckily, I managed to find all three gold bees as well as the Queen bee, although it was tricky and you have to interact with the artwork to find some of them. There were a thousand (exactly) bees to search within the room, with several in grouped clusters. This collage was done by the artist Camille Poli who likes to highlight endangered species in her work.
Next there’s a wall piece of Barbie dolls done by Manchester based artist, Katie Scott, who wanted to delve into the nostalgia of childhood where “as children we play with our toys, without thinking of putting them away afterwards”.
The next room contains furniture and household objects painted to look like a comic-style, and viewers are invited to interact with the furniture. The artwork in this room was created by Combo, the artist that created the exhibition. He likes to manipulate classic, well-known characters by adding comical elements to them.
Sabrina Berrata sees her work as having multiple interpretations, and is based on deconstruction and transformation. Her artwork of Mario is exactly that, a combination of normality, with the other half deconstructed into triangles, paired with a butterfly to illustrate the butterfly effect.
Next we move on to another room, and this time the theme of this room seems to be anything odd or out of this world – with oversized carrots, different urban scenes with natural aspects, as well as some art exploring different shapes.
The art in this room was from a range of artists including: Let’s have a Skeg, Luigi, Dave Baranes, Woskerski, Raf Urban, Kelki, and Remi Cierco.
One of the sections of the exhibition was done in ultraviolet art materials/paint, which was my favourite part of the exhibition.
The colours were so vibrant and stood out fantastically with the neon colours – some of the artists featured here were Tenz, Cats and That, Kelzo, Qubeck, Ethan Lemon, Liam Bononi, and Ben C Downs. There was also a fun interactive section where people could use highlighters to colour in printed-out pages, several people had already filled these in.
In the next room, there were two interactive artworks as well as some dynamic pieces. One of the pieces by Ensemble Réel was cut and torn, giving a fractured impression and the artwork could be rearranged with different facial features – and the artist is actually made up of a brother duo.
The other interactive artwork (by Wékup) was attached to the wall with gear-like metal bits which you could turn to make your own artwork, with different elements of the piece able to move back and forth to create something new. The other art in the room was also really interesting and thought provoking – a pigeon with a camera by Djalouz, a whale by Dave Baranes, a person with their face obscured by Smak3, and a street pigeon scene by Kafé Korsé.
My thoughts on the exhibition
The exhibition combines a diverse range of styles and topics, full of colour and life – I really enjoyed seeing all the vibrant colours and various styles of art, ad it was a fantastic day out. I highly recommend going if you’re able – the interactive parts of the exhibition make it more fun and engaging for all.
The colors festival is open till 2 July 2023, for details about tickets prices and opening times, visit their website.
Editor’s note: All photos of the artwork were taken by Jamie Robinson and were taken with permission from staff at the Colors Festival