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SPRAYING street artist Aref Mohammed Guloom, better known by his pseudonym Ayfu, is adding a touch of graffiti to footwear across the kingdom with his latest creations.
Ayfu has been busy creating unique men’s slippers painted with airbrush and spray-painted themes in a bid to normalise graffiti in the streets of Bahrain.
“I have been experimenting on slide slippers, using some of my spray paints and airbrushes,” the 25-year-old tagger told the GulfWeekly.
“I do each piece by hand and every one of them is unique. It takes me about an hour per pair, and it’s been exciting bringing some of the knowledge and skills I have learned from graffiti into a new field.”
While Covid-19 dampened the spirits of many people last year, the young Bahraini street artist used the time to sharpen his skills, redecorating streets across the kingdom, including Block 338 and The Avenues mall as well as food trucks.
Now, he is bringing that style to slide slippers.
For each pair, he starts off by marking off the areas not to be recoloured, like the sole and the brand tag, with masking tape.
He then uses his spray paint to colour some water with unique patterns into which each of the slippers goes for a few minutes.
After taking them out and drying them, he adds his own unique touches with brushes and air brushes. Each slipper is available for a nominal price.
While painted slippers may seem like a strange use of his talents, Ayfu wants to pay homage to his love for hip hop with each pair.
While a decade or two ago, it might have been unthinkable for rappers and hip hop artists to wear slide slippers, more and more top rappers are now stepping away from sneakers and sliding into the slipper game.
The Wu-Tang Clan and Riff Raff are just two of the numerous artists to start selling slides featuring their artwork.
The new project is Ayfu’s first attempt at becoming a full-time artist.
He recently quit his full-time job, having made a name for himself in the kingdom’s burgeoning graffiti community and plans to devote most of his time to the craft.
Instead of sticking to art exhibitions and galleries, Ayfu hopes to make street art part of people’s daily lives, whether or not they are taggers themselves.
He has also been busy training other up-and-coming artists on the nuances of the art form. He has started the Art Attack Krew, a collective of more than 14 street artists, including Samar Bushehri, Salman Aljar, Fatima Mirza, Isa Mansoor, Çağla Akpınar, Hussam Ali Aradi and Sara Mohammed.
He will also take up the role of a street art trainer at one of the kingdom’s performance art studios in the new year, hoping to train young street artists like him.
For more information, follow @ayfu.official on Instagram.