Renowned for its roots in activism, street art has played a pivotal role in promoting social change through creativity. While most street artists employ blank walls as a means to communicate their messages, Ibo Omari has opted for a slightly different approach. For his series, Paintback, the Berlin-based artist uses his spray-paint skills to rework scribbled swastikas into quirky and clever works of art.
Combatting hateful messages with cartoonish subjects, Paintback proves the power behind “getting creative in the neighborhood.” Each sloppily drawn swastika unexpectedly serves as inspiration for Omari’s team of artists, prompting them to come up with imaginative methods of camouflage. Some of these clever cover-ups—like the Sudoku puzzle and Rubik’s cube—take advantage of the swastikas’ simple aesthetic. Others, however, are a bit more elaborate, turning the hateful symbols’ hastily scrawled lines into the torso of an owl or the angled arms of an Egyptian.
Omari started this unique project as an offshoot of his organization, Die kulturellen Erben (“The Cultural Heritage”). Through this NGO, he aims to improve neighborhoods in Berlin by encouraging communities to come together and create.