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Sharp Stencils: JULY i
by Max Nesterak


Toronto-based street and urban “view artist” JULY i isn’t one for sugar coating a message. JULY i’s work is sharp, offering biting cultural and political critiques rich with a dark humor. Working with stencils or painting free hand, JULY i’s oeuvre includes works addressing everything from environmentalism to consumerism to colonialism. Found everywhere but in the gallery, JULY i is a street art traditionalist, working in back alleyways and underpasses, places where it’s still called vandalism not art.

http://julyitoronto.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/julystreetart

 

—Max Nesterak

 

(All images: Courtesy JULY i)



Posted by Max Nesterak on 3/23 | tags: spotlights

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Exposing Visual Rhymes: An Interview with Mario Ybarra Jr.
by Abraham Ritchie


This interview was originally published way back on ArtSlant Chicago, in May, 2008, on the occasion of  Mario Ybarra Jr.'s exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. The LA-based artist is known for his installations drawing from pop and street culture, including a recent solo show examining the mythos of Scarface at LA's Honor Fraser Gallery. Right now his work can be found on a billboard in Mobile, AL, part of Los Angeles Nomadic Division's Manifest Destiny Project.

Mario Ybarra, Jr. is a LA-based visual and performance artist who has created room-sized installations all over the world and most recently right here in Chicago for the Art Institute of Chicago. This year Ybarra was also selected to participate in the Whitney Biennial. Beneath Ybarra's friendly demeanor lies a keen observer who is quick to expose visual rhymes in seemingly unrelated sources and to expand and build upon those connections until a cohesion is reached, or as he might say, a story. Ybarra graciously met with ArtSlant's Abraham Ritchie while putting the finishing touches on his installation at the Art Institute. Ever the raconteur, Ybarra talked about his native LA, baseball and King Arthur. Below is an excerpt of our conversation.


 

Abraham Richie: I think a lot of Chicagoans, and everyone, might want to know what the connection is between Southern Los Angeles, Catalina Island and Wrigley Field? It’s kind of funny to think that Wrigley Field had a “secret brother” or something like that on the West Coast, because I am not sure that many people remember or know about this other Wrigley Field.

Mario Ybarra, Jr.: Well that’s where this whole project started for me. About a year ago Lisa Dorin, the Assistant Curator in the Contemporary Art Department, asked me if I wanted to come up with a proposal to do a Focus project here at the Art Institute of Chicago, and I said I would think about it a little bit. The way that I try to work is that I try to make some kind of relationship between a personal experience, or my personal understanding or knowledge and the place that I show. I don’t like the idea of coming in and claiming an expertise on a place that I know nothing about. I’ve found that doing something that starts in the realm of the personal and then taking it out to another place and trying to make relationships between those two places is the most successful tactic for me. . . I try to make bridges, so to speak.

As a kid we would take trips out to Catalina Island, which is part of the Channel Islands, about 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. I remember part of the tour was the local history. They’d always tell us that William Wrigley, Jr. owned Catalina Island and he had famous movie stars of the time going out there, like Clark Gable. His Chicago Cubs would go out and have their spring training there. The main town there is called Avalon and it gets its name from [Wrigley’s] niece, who told [Wrigley] to name it that after the Avalon of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and those stories. So it has this mythological side of it too. It has real histories, the local histories, of it being owned by Wrigley, and it has this mythological history through the King Arthur association. My studio back in LA is on Avalon Boulevard and they named [the street] that because that’s where the boats used to take people out to Avalon Harbor on the island. I started doing research about that, I’m like a de facto historian, and I found that Wrigley, along with owning the island, owned this other Wrigley Field that was in South Central Los Angeles on Avalon and 66th street. So we had the Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island, my studio on Avalon, this field that Wrigley owned was also on Avalon, I just kept following the line. I thought I could take this story from Avalon, to Avalon Boulevard, to my studio, to Avalon were the stadium was, to all the way down Highway 66 to Chicago and the Art Institute.

I’m figuring out ways to make these relationships between historical figures like William Wrigley, who was important to historical cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, and bring these stories together somehow, make bridges between the stories. Between what I know and my experiences and the places that I go.

AR: Sports are the site of an obvious physical conflict and throughout the exhibit are interesting juxtapositions: the Mexican flag and the U.S. flag, the sword and the baseball bat, the fist of the Revolution and an image of a capitalist’s private island. The history of the island reflects conflict as well, in the seventies it was occupied by the Brown Berets. How are sports, especially baseball, viewed both literally and metaphorically for this project, and the issues it raises?

MY: Well I have always thought of the history of baseball as particularly related to the United States. It’s billed as “the American Game;” it’s not really played around the world at all other than some Latin American countries, like the Dominican Republic where all these new players are coming from and where young people are specifically groomed to be ball players. But in relation to the United States, and this comes from the different things that I have watched or read, the developments of social movements in the United States almost always came ten years later than in the ball game itself. Baseball has been very slow to change, and it hasn’t changed really over the few centuries its been played here. But it still has these kind of leading edges. Let’s take for example the story of integration and civil rights. Jackie Robinson starts playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950's and certain places, like schools, weren’t integrated until the early sixties or late sixties. Baseball reflects a little bit in advance the kind of social movements that will happen in the United States.

Another thing that I think is very interesting in terms of conflict and it being a spectator sport, even though there are rival teams and most big cities have their own team, [there is a sense of unity]. Before professional baseball, each little town would have a team, even though there was a sense of rivalry or competition, the people were brought together as spectators to cheer on their team. So even though there was a site of conflict, it wasn’t like it was Rome and gladiators were getting fed to lions [laughter]. There is a sense of sportsmanship [. . .]

Related to issues of capitalism and revolution, or acts of civil disobedience, there is a sense of teams. I play off that with the posters, we have here a baseball with two bats crossed, but instead of a regular team you have the Brown Beret guys who tried to occupy the island in 1972 so they’re like “the team.” The idea of “the team” is important too and the metaphor of a team. The idea that everyone has their positions but also act as a unit is very important and is a metaphor for myself.


AR: The idea of teams is also apparent in this wall of flags you have installed. What are the flags we have here?

MY: This is the state of Illinois’ flag. The flags are also stadium-esque, they always have them. The other thing, again about making relationships, is this is the state of Illinois’ flag, which has an eagle perched on a rock holding a shield and in his mouth is a banner. I thought that is very interesting, because over here is the Mexican flag, and again we have the eagle, this time perched on the cactus, and the snake in his mouth pretty much mimics the banner in the Illinois flag. Those kinds of aesthetic relationships and symbolic choices are very interesting.


AR: Even looking at the Illinois flag, that’s more of an Aztec style eagle than a typical American-style eagle.

MY: Yeah. Those are the kinds of things I noticed in my visits to Chicago to prepare for this show, last year and earlier this year. I started seeing these kinds of relationships, like the Illinois flag’s similarity to the flag of Mexico.

This row of flags will start off with the U.S. flag, the state of Illinois flag, Chicago flag, Los Angeles flag, state of California flag, and the Mexican flag. We have these different relationships between these two places starting with the cities and then going to the states. We have the state of Mexico flag, even though California is not part of Mexico, it used to be part of Mexico, but it’s related to the histories that we have here. Catalina Island was occupied by the Brown Berets because in the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which separated the Southwest from Mexico after the Mexican-American War, the island wasn’t specifically mentioned. This is why the Brown Berets tried to occupy it.

There are interrelationships between the two places [Chicago and LA]. I thought that was another kind of metaphor for the show, in terms of Wrigley being this character and starting with him, saying no man is an island, or no city, or no country or land is an island. They’re all in relationship, in context, to their neighbors. Imagine if we thought that we could do everything, under our own power, we’d get ourselves in trouble. We can talk about it in relationship to land, in relationship to people. Or no island is a man, we could even switch it.

I wanted to draw these kinds of relationships together, one between Los Angeles and Chicago, two between Mexico and the States, three between baseball and mythology. Different symbolic orders, things like ships or bubble gum.

 

ArtSlant would like to thank Mario Ybarra, Jr., Jenny Gheith and Lisa Dorin for their assistance in making this interview possible. Additional thanks to the Anna Helwing Gallery and the Art Institute of Chicago

- Abraham Ritchie

 

(Top image: Mario Ybarra Jr, Manifest Destiny Project billboard, 2014; Courtesy of LAND. All other images are installation views of Take Me Out. . . No Man Is an Island, 2008; Courtesy of the Artist)

 

 

 



Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 3/19 | tags: q&a Throwback

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Chad Hasegawa
White Walls Gallery
886 Geary, San Francisco, CA 94109
March 15, 2014 - April 5, 2014


Let'er Drip: Chad Hasegawa at White Walls
by ArtSlant STREET


Mmmmmmm latex... Chad Hasegawa's got his medium dialed in: for anyone who's every painted a house, or a roller piece, there's nothing quite like latex paint, especially when you've got your brush or roller positively saturated with the stuff. You can see the pure delight in Hasegawa's latest works: the results of latex-laden paintbrushes meeting canvas and oozing out all over the place. His works are now on view at White Walls in San Francisco until April 5, 2014.

White Walls is pleased to present Elite Rebels, a solo show by San Francisco­based artist Chad Hasegawa. Join us for the opening reception Saturday, March 15, from 7­11pm. The exhibit will be open to the public for viewing through April 5, 2014.

Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Chad Hasegawa is well known for, perhaps surprisingly, taking California’s state animal, the grizzly bear, as his primary subject. These powerful animals were known for their fearlessness; early pioneers told tales of the grizzlies’ prowess in battles with charging longhorn bulls and of their refusal to retreat  from the onslaught of new settlers that characterized the 1800s. Less than 75 years after the  gold rush of 1849, the brave and wild bears which had roamed the state for 300 years were extinct.

(text source: White Walls Gallery)

Chad Hasegawa, Mother & Daughter, Latex on canvas, 72x48in; Courtesy of the Artist and White Walls Gallery

 

More on Chad Hasegawa:

Hasegawa took up mural painting on the streets of San Francisco after he left the advertising world. His designs were created out of thick laid brush strokes of bold colors, almost to resemble mosaics, clearly visible when viewed from a far. His use of color aggressively shapes an object. The larger picture is always a grizzly bear, wild and bold, painted in different attitudes. Coincidentally or not, California’s state animal is his primary subject. Bears are highly respected in many cultures and are considered to be ancestral spirits.

(text source: WideWalls)

Chad Hasegawa, Oh My Dad, Latex on canvas, 96x96in; Courtesy of the Artist and White Walls Gallery

Chad Hasegawa,Smoky, Latex on canvas, 48x48in; Courtesy of the Artist and White Walls Gallery

Chad Hasegawa, Water & Rock, Latex on canvas, 48x48in; Courtesy of the Artist and White Walls Gallery

Chad Hasegawa, Going, Latex on canvas, 72x72in; Courtesy of the Artist and White Walls Gallery

Chad Hasegawa, Dee, Latex on canvas, 48x48in; Courtesy of the Artist and White Walls Gallery

Chad Hasegawa, Big Jourdan, Latex on canvas, 72x72in; Courtesy of the Artist and White Walls Gallery

Chad Hasegawa, Tino, Latex on canvas, 48x48in; Courtesy of the Artist and White Walls Gallery

Chad Hasegawa, Redwood, Latex on canvas, 48x48in; Courtesy of the Artist and White Walls Gallery

Chad Hasegawa, Holl, Latex on canvas, 48x48in;Courtesy of the Artist and White Walls Gallery

 

For further information...(ArtSlant Profile) (Artist's Website) (Galleries: White Walls GalleryShooting Gallery)

 

 

(Image on top: Chad Hasegawa, Anne, Latex on canvas, 48 x 48in.; Courtesy of the Artist and White Walls Gallery)

 



Posted by ArtSlant STREET on 3/20 | tags: news

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Group Exhibition
1AM Gallery
1000 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
March 14, 2014 - April 12, 2014


A Major Minority: Widening the Definition of Urban Art
by Eva Recinos


In a relatively small, white-walled room, 1AM Gallery legitimately pushes the meaning of the phrase ‘group show.’

When visitors enter the current exhibit, entitled A Major Minority, they encounter walls full of pieces. Rows and rows of artworks cover each wall and showcase the talent of more than 100 artists from more than 18 countries. Many sections include multiple pieces by the same person, giving viewers more than a small taste of each artist’s work.

At first, the sheer amount of pieces might seem overwhelming but the show is a lesson in slowing down. The reward for spending a decent amount of time with each piece is seeing the smallest details reveal themselves.

After scanning each wall, it’s easy to see the connections between even the most disparate works. The pieces range in mediums, from photography to drawing to mixed media. Some works are presented in frames, others on materials like wood. Curator Poesia put these particular artists together to address the widening definition of urban art. The works all convey a certain edgy beauty and make clear references to graffiti even when they do not use spray paint or reference tags.

Some pieces look especially sculptural and architectural. Kwest’s works especially stand out for their shiny, three-dimensional rendering of the angles one might find in graffiti writing. In fact the two pieces in this show are entitled S Refraction and W Refraction, clear hints that Kwest might have used letters as his inspiration. Though not created fully in the round, the pieces entice the viewer to gaze from all viewpoints in order to absorb each angle.

Christopher Derek Bruno also tackles the medium of sculpture in his brightly colored works. The Minimalist-like pieces do not make overt references to graffiti or urban art as Kwest’s pieces do, but they still offer viewers the chance to reflect on color—something that many graffiti works do as well.

Abstract House 5 by Drew Tyndell does something similar. Its wooden slabs fit together like colored puzzle pieces; the smoothness of each colored piece seems to suggest acrylic paint but Tyndell actually uses spray paint. That medium choice makes the viewer look a little more closely at the places where the colors meet in curves and sharp angles.

Bom.k, Urban Kontortion 4

Many of the pieces in the show also lean towards figual explorations of specific places and familiar faces. When it comes to capturing the character of the urban landscape, the surreal exaggerated portraits of Bom.k definitely stand out. The Paris-based artist recently had solo shows in both his hometown and Known Gallery in Los Angeles. The pieces in this show display his knack for intricate detail in portraits of exaggerated, creepy, yet familiar faces. These could be people viewers run into on the street, but their limbs are oversized, their eyes beady and their mouths terrifying. The figure in Urban Kontortion 4 pulls down his lip to reveal a tattoo but shows a ghastly-looking gap in his teeth and horribly wrinkled gums and lips that ultimately draw the eye in closer.

The work of See One offers a more Pop Art approach to the figure with its bright colors and high contrasts. In Only You a woman looks down at something the viewer can’t see while colors and shapes explode all around her. Chunky graffiti letters that look like See’s tag float in the back of lightning bolt-like shapes of color. The figure’s face also shows strange shapes along with dots that feel like a Lichtenstein treatment. The elements come together in a way that happens in most graffiti murals; the characters initially draw the viewer's attention and then little by little other details come to the surface.

As much as the pieces fit nicely into rows on the white walls in the gallery, they retain this overall sense of  outdoor urban art and graffiti that influences their production in one way or another. The photographs included in the exhibition tie that concept together nicely. Snapshots like 4 by Clams Rockefeller show graffiti artists at work or their pieces in conversation with local people hanging out on the streets.

Basik, Celebratio Lupi

 

Although overall some pieces feel stronger than others, the range of works makes for a fascinating introduction to the works of a group of artists who share a common inspiration. Even taken out of the context of urban art, many of the works stand alone as clear expressions of strong aesthetic directions and explorations. For the art lover not able to travel the world to discover new works of urban art and graffiti, or pieces influenced by these styles, A Major Minority might serve as a satisfactory alternative.

 

—Eva Recinos

 

(Image on top: Kwest, S Refraction Series, All images: Courtesy of 1AM Gallery)

 



Posted by Eva Recinos on 4/10 | tags: Street Critique

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Poesia Transcends The Text: An Exegesis of the L'AVENIR Essay
by EKG


On December 14th, 2013, the Graffuturist-related exhibition L’AVENIR opened at White Walls Gallery in San Francisco. The show was curated by Poesia, a graffiti writer and contemporary painter since the late eighties, as well as the founder and singular force behind Graffuturism.com. At the website’s inception in January of 2010, Poesia made this statement of intent about the site and the term Graffuturism:

“Graffuturism.com is an experiment – something I need to get off my chest. It might be taken down, or never updated again. I leave it to become whatever it grows into, or maybe it’ll stagnate and disappear. Graffuturism is a word that is poetic, unique, and without a dictionary definition, therefore suggesting something that really is unexplainable: I can show you when I see it, I can grasp the forms of it, but I leave it up to you to explain or define it. The Artist will always be beyond a Label. So I guess this is an attempt to define something, an aesthetic, a common string that some of us graffiti artists, painters, even photographers share. A collection of something that is a portrait of decades of progression and regression.” – Poesia, January 2010.

With that statement, Poesia revealed that he is a humble and yet powerful thinker and leader who therefore can take the risk of admitting that he doesn’t know something or have a particular answer, opinion or direction. By taking that unique stance, possibly the result of his nature as an artist-before-editor, he left the site open for all kinds of input, discussion, and criticism, as well as a true discovery of what he was trying find with this “collection of something” that will eventually create a deeper “portrait” of this historically overlooked facet of the graffiti movement. 

As a result, over the past four years, the site has performed as an instigator of cultural dialogue by acting as a provocative think-tank of interviews, art and photography. The site has inspired many Graffuturism-related group exhibitions and solo shows, as well as commentary by insiders and outsiders alike, including the first major revision of The Feral Diagram: Graffiti and Street Art to include the missing historical threads of Abstract Graffiti, Progressive Graffiti and Graffuturism.

Each of the past Graffuturism-related group shows were curated by different people without any specific curatorial influence from Poesia, just his assistance as a facilitator of introductions. These exhibitions brought artists and media together to discuss the use, validity, and meaning of Graffuturism as an appropriate term. Others have utilized the term Abstract Graffiti (an older term originating with Futura in 1980), Progressive Graffiti (a recent term utilized by Daniel Feral in much the same way as Progressive Jazz, although at this point it is more of a subtitle for the more unique Graffuturism term), and Hybridism (coined by Alex Emmart in 2010, relating to the prevalence of the intermingling of Graffiti, Street Art and Fine Art aesthetics in the new millennium). Poesia has even stated that Graffuturism is the name of the website, not the movement, therefore leaving the door wide open to any term and definition that manifests during the cultural discourse he has fostered. Become what it will, Poesia's main emphasis has been to use his instincts to showcase art that he felt fell under this not-yet-finalized term and definition, although lately it seems to be becoming accepted by the artists and utilized by the public as well.

What made L’AVENIR so unique from the past group exhibitions is that it is the first one curated solely by Poesia, being the pure result of his singular vision, like the website itself. Of particular note is that Poesia took this opportunity to write an in-depth curatorial statement summarizing his current thoughts after four years of development and dialogue. There have been a few other general interviews with Poesia about L’AVENIR, so ArtSlant STREET decided to focus our attention solely on his essay in order to reveal his ideas and discoveries from the past four years in more depth and bring attention to this important text. Poesia’s essay will be quoted within the interview questions in order to illustrate them, but to read the complete text visit the L’AVENIR preview post on graffuturism.com. There are a ton of pictures first with the essay appearing at the bottom of the post.

Doze Green, Death Comet Corona Rammellzeee; Courtesy of the artist


ekg: In your essay you write that you began the blog “to showcase the work of fellow Graffiti/Urban Artists who I felt were underrepresented.” Why do you think this historical trajectory has been underrepresented over the years? Why do you think this is the time for understanding and recognition for these artists and their art? 

Poesia: I think style writing and the initial history of graffiti culture has been represented thoroughly over the years which in a sense is part of the problem. Style writing and graffiti art did not die in the 80's and was just starting to gain steam spreading itself across the world as a new subculture. Art critics still tend to relate graffiti to this era and have no clue what has happened in the post-New York era of graffiti. Our art form was in its early stages and there were many chapters yet to come. Some art critics and established academics were there in NYC when the initial movement gained recognition but the art world embraced Basquiat and Haring, declaring them the voice of the streets and failing to credit real pioneers like Rammellezee, Futura, Dondi etc. Many critics and historians stand behind this idea that they understand what Graffiti and Urban Art is about today because they have watched Style Wars or read about the days of the Fun Factory, Fashion Moda and the two earliest decades of New York Graffiti. Historically academia moved on to embrace other emerging art movements such as conceptual art, minimalism etc, leaving graffiti behind. With the recent rise of Street Art you have seen an influx of books and recognition of the street art phenomenon, but what about the missing decades important in the historical narrative of Graffiti/Urban Art? 

Part of the recognition that I wanted to establish had to do with breaking this historical gap in the media coverage, as well as counter the new love the media had with the emergence of Street Art. It wasn't until the emergence of street art and its use of representational imagery that people started paying attention again to writing on walls. Street Art was the new big thing and graffiti art seemed have taken a backseat to it. When I started Graffuturism.com, I had witnessed these gaps in coverage and saw how fast people had forgotten about the real historical narrative that started with graffiti. Street Art started as a hybrid of graffiti and if you look at some of the second-wave pioneers like Banksy or Shepard who popularized it, one was a graffiti artist and the other mimicked how graffiti artists bombed and got up. Many will point to all these other precursors and influences to Street Art, and that it had its own history outside of graffiti. I don't agree with that. I believe we can always find signs that back up any story, but the real history is self evident and the pioneers of Street Art will tell you the same. Don't get me wrong. My take on Street Art is not a negative one. My problem is with the coverage it receives and how historically incorrect most of the people writing books on the subject are. People forget that the pre-street art Barry McGee was painting representational characters and exhibiting in museums; Kaws was doing street interventions; Cost and Revs painted huge legible rollers and wheat pasted posters all over NYC long before Banksy and Shepard. All these artists had worked outside the traditions of Graffiti, so to speak, before the Street Art boom, yet the innovations they made didn't take hold in the media's consciousness like Street Art did at the turn of the new millennium.

In a sense, Street Art was a wake up call to graffiti artists. Here were guys painting on walls with representational imagery using techniques that graffiti artists would never use, such as stencils, wheatpastes, etc. Graffiti artists were very traditional; most artists had garnered skills over decades to be able to perfect their technique and control a can of spray paint. It took years to master an outline or a proper tag, then street artists came along and created their own rules just like the graffiti artists had done years ago. This was an important step in our evolution as an art form, shifting the graffiti narrative from the traditionalists to a more progressive acceptance. Some graffiti artists were able to identify that change was needed in order to move past our own traditional constraints and some graffiti artists had already been doing it, but just not recognized on the same scale. Because Street Art shares a subversive element and most the artists work in the urban setting, the two art forms have continued to be confused with the greater public and media. It is important now more than ever that we don't lose track of this history, beginning with the original graffiti historical narrative in Philadelphia and New York City, which has grown into new hybrids throughout the world. We are at an exciting moment in this narrative where the art form has started to be recognized as the true alternative to what has been taking place in the art world over the past fifty years, and it’s important we get the story right.

Sorry if I got off track on the answer, but why now? Because timing is everything and maybe we weren't ready as a culture yet in those earlier times. I think it will be harder this time around for the art world to pick two stars and leave the rest of the culture behind. The tables have turned. We are the new contemporary.

Chazme, Megapolis-City For Night People-2am; Courtesy of the artist

 

ekg: You write, “Graffuturism is composed of an emerging progressive global art form that in its natural environment on urban streets around the world has far surpassed any recent contemporary art form.” How has it surpassed other contemporary art forms? In aesthetics, the market and/or popularity?

P: When I say, “Graffuturism is composed of an emerging progressive global art form,” I am referring to the whole genre of graffiti/urban art and all its hybrids. So when you talk about how many artists, murals, cities, countries, and all forms of media, graffiti is everywhere and huge. I can guess that we have more public art in cities around the world than the whole contemporary art world combined. We paint murals on skyscrapers, we paint everything and everywhere, illegally and legally, not counting exhibitions that the artists also show work in. The reach of what started over 40 years ago is immeasurable. When a kid grows up now he more than likely will come in contact with Graffiti/Urban Art and understand it before he will learn about Sol Lewitt and understand Conceptualism. We’re not an intellectual/financial elitist artform. We are a peoples' art if there ever was one. Yet, I am not saying that Graffuturism or Graffiti/Urban Art is a simple art form. I am just saying we are popular because we are able to communicate with the public easily and directly, engaging them because we are them and operate within their urban sphere. Call us a populist art form, because I don’t see a negative connotation in that term. Contemporary art has grown to become an elitist art form that has secluded itself from the general public. We are the opposite, taking it to the streets, to the people where they live, work and play. Whether it’s aesthetics, the marketplace, or popularity, we have surpassed contemporary art in many avenues.

Duncan Jago, Understory Fires; Courtesy of the artist

 

ekg: “The real power of our art form is in our actions as artists collectively.” How would your explain this power? What are these collective actions that artists are taking?

P: I think collectively as a whole not collectively in unison. Collectively as a whole the power that I am referencing is our ability to come together as a community regardless of aesthetics or preferences as individual artists. Maybe it’s because of our origins in Graffiti and the art form's social and collaborative nature. But there is something about this collective nature of our artform that is powerful and allows for movements like Graffuturism to happen. I never went to art school but I am sure as an alumni you are part of a larger group that you could engage; yet I would argue that it wouldn't compare to the scale of our collective power globally. Our ability to reach around the world is powerful. We all communicate socially now and are able to see what our peers are doing daily on the streets and on the internet. There is a collective energy that continues to feed itself. This is the collective power. In the past we used to be able to see within our own cities what other artists had painted the night before by watching the subways go by or walking around town. Now with social media we are able to see not only our city but all our friends' cities. This real time interaction is a game changer for artists.

ekg: You wrote, “L’AVENIR is an exhibition curated by myself that calls into question what is already here, but more importantly what to ‘is to come’.” Do you have an idea of what is to come? Where do you see this heading in the next four years of Graffuturism.com instigation?

P: L'AVENIR was a great experience for me because it made me sit down and think about what and who we are. Like most projects or good ones at least, you go in with an idea and come out with something you didn't expect. L'AVENIR did that for me. I came to the conclusion that I want to be in the moment for the time being instead of searching for what’s next or thinking about history. We are at a special moment and you never know how long these things last. So for now I am just going to enjoy it and keep working. As far as projects I have goals set as an artist and as a curator. I hope to contribute as much as I can while I have the time to do so.

Kofie, Central Aqua System Shift; Courtesy of the artist

 

ekg: “In this current exhibition at White Walls Gallery we set out to showcase a group of artists that have been part of Graffuturism over the past three years in some form, and bring together a wide range of aesthetics that exemplify the essence of this neo-contemporary movement Graffuturism.” What does the term “neo-contemporary” mean in this context and where does it come from?

[NOTE: Poesia wrote this answer two months ago. Around that time, he also started a Facebook critical discussion group to which he invited aesthetic theoreticians, historians, and scholars to discuss issues such as the use of his term Neocontemporary. Recently, during the writing of the exhibition statement for the huge Graffuturism survey called A MAJOR MINORITY opening on March 14th in San Francisco, a consensus was reached to use the term Othercontemporary instead of Neocontemporary. Please refer to the A MAJOR MINORITY exhibition statement for more info on that topic and others relating to the cultural genesis of Graffiti and its development as a form of outsider art.]

P: Haha, as you can tell by my term Graffuturism, I am fan of making up nonsense names. So in order to move away from using the terms Graffuturism, Graffiti, Urban Art etc, I wanted to use a name that could define a wider range of uses, including these other art forms that might not fit into the contemporary scope yet are relevant. I googled the term and I didn't find a definition so I am using it as my own elitist art term to describe our genre. Neo-contemporary or New contemporary to me could be any post-historical art form that has emerged and doesn't align with the elitist contemporary art world. I think there are plenty of other art forms that are in a similar situation as us. I figured instead of assimilating our genre into Contemporary Art, it was best to define ourselves outside of it or after it. 

Mathew, The Saint - Martyrdom Of Caravaggio; Courtesy of the artist

 

ekg: “We are at a special time and moment in our art form. We are embraced by the mainstream and are able to engage the public like no other form of Contemporary Art, yet we remain outside of the academia so to speak.” How does the Graffiti/Urban Art movement remain outside academia and why? Are there any examples where it has been accepted at this point? Do you think the success in the fine art marketplace will eventually force institutions to accept it, or could this worldwide movement someday be regulated to a footnote in those history books?

P: There has been great progress in aspects of the historical documentation of the graffiti movement. Most of the books have been historical in nature and document important aspects of our history. But there is a gap and there is still a lack of academic writing on a large portion of the history. It is these gaps that I speak of in the first question that still have not all been filled. Sure we have many more books now about Graffiti than we have had ever before. Yet, compared to Street Art, which is a relatively young art form in comparison to Graffiti, I would guess that there are more books on Street Art and those artists than Graffiti. We have great contributors to Street Art, so I am not trying to slight anyone that has dedicated countless years and efforts to the art form, but I am just stating that we have a substantial amount of work to do still for Graffiti to get its recognition. For example, The Feral Diagram by Daniel Feral was an excellent example of a real contribution to the present and past of our art form, not only just the past like so many others. We need more bridges like this that can explain who we are to the outside academics, post-New York Graffiti. If you were to believe the books published or the museum exhibits, you would think Street Art was the post-New York Graffiti successor. That is a problem. We all know Graffiti itself has evolved into many hybrids, and that Street Art is just one of many of these versions of Graffiti, not the only one.

Deitch was also able to curate a successful example of graffiti in a museum, yet it still had some of these same issues because it was the first of its kind in a way. You have to get the history out of the way first and tell the story of the legends and pioneers so I feel he got it right in that respect, yet it also had gaps in the narrative. It might be impossible for one show to be able to narrate our entire history. It could take multiple museum shows. But as I stated, this is the problem with academia because these large events create historical points for the outside academics and they start to bullet point our genre with these generalizations. When I say we stand outside of academia, it is because academics and art forums of the world still have no real clue what we are doing or where to even start to understand us. I always see these problems as opportunities to create solutions and that is why I decided to focus on the present and continue to tell our story. I can’t wait for our generation of writers to start to enter the conversation and take the torch and run with it. 

Clemens Behr; Courtesy of the artist

 

ekg: “Progressive hybridization of graffiti has a history going back to the 1970s with artists such as Futura and Rammellzee, yet today’s progression is taking place on a much larger scale.” Who are some of the more recent artists that are examples of this hybridization, and what historical or contemporary aesthetics have they combined with Graffiti to create something progressive?

P: There are so many and so many different aesthetic influences it’s hard to mention them all. Some of the first artists that I started to cover were Kofie, Remi Rough, Jaybo Monk, Graphic Surgery, Part2ism, She One, Nawer, Pener, Mr Jago, Delta, Carlos Mare etc. and the range of aesthetics usually was associated with deconstruction, abstract geometrics, expressionism, architecture, urbanism, etc… This is just a handful of artists and some of the originals. I would later learn there were tens and hundreds more out there. Maybe I’ll be able to better answer this question later on but now I don't have the full answer as to why the timing was right for this to happen now and at this scale. 

ekg: “We are on the fringe, at the precipice of being recognized, still fresh enough to have honesty prevalent in the work before over-commercialization takes hold.” Does this imply that you worry that as institutional and critical recognition is bestowed and intellectual understanding of the movement becomes prevalent and finalized that this will ruin the true force of attraction and passion for the art replacing it with more of the elitism and exclusion that happened with modernist art forms? Basically becoming a career path for those that merely want to market a product with no heart?

P: Of course, history always seems repeats itself, not exactly the same, but there are definite patterns that take place. One of these patterns has always been the elitist, or traditionalists who were once considered avant garde to be overthrown by something new. Rebellion leads to the status quo then it becomes the elite it was fighting against. I am sure we will have our moment but some other young youth movement will replace us. It's the nature of the beast I guess.  

Vesod, Reliquiae; Courtesy of the artist

 

ekg: “Our work, our masterpieces are under layers of buff – and are eradicated daily across the world.” How do you separate the vandalism from the aesthetics? Do you?

P: I don't separate them personally, but I leave it to the individual artist to decide his own fate. I consider taggers artists as much as anyone else but the individual artist/vandal needs to make that decision for themselves whether to call it art or vandalism. I can appreciate and explain why a tag could be a work of art but I can’t tell an artist to call his tag a work of art if you can understand what I mean. Graffiti is an aesthetic art form in my opinion. It might have rebellious and conceptual origins but we who have a history in graffiti will always say that we were more inclined to aesthetics and creating our own idea of beauty or form. So, I am not surprised that our art form has retained this aesthetic influence in its progression. This is part of our ability to engage the public better than other art forms. Even our abstract artists paint with a beautiful understanding of color and form that is attractive to the general public.

Robert Proch, Survivors, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 50cm; Courtesy of the artist

 

ekg: “As a group now, what was once just an idea has formed into a network of artists spread across the globe, each influenced by their own circumstances and inspiration, yet bound by a common history.” Can you more precisely trace this history a little? Utilizing artists and mini-movements within Graffiti/Urban Art as examples?

P: The common history I was referring to was most of the artists if not all of them being either a graffiti artist themselves at one point or influenced by Graffiti in their early years. The great part of being global is that even with this binding history, local and cultural influences allowed for a wide range of aesthetics to form. So you have the artists from Poland influenced by constructivism and architecture, the Dutch with influence from Jugendstil, and so forth. These real relationships and influences directly from regional art history crossed with their graffiti history has led to some amazing and authentic hybridizations.  

Borondo, Yellow Disguise; Courtesy of the artist

 

ekg: You then “…acknowledge what is to come – L’Avenir in the past, present and future tense.” Do you have any ideas about what is to come? Is the A4 companion show, consisting of 100 artists at the same gallery in March, which you also exclusively curated, a view of the future or another broader step in exemplifying what exists now?

P: The group exhibition I am curating at 1AM Gallery is called “A Major Minority.” I have called it a Survey of Intercontinental Neocontemporary Urban Art. I know it’s a mouthful, but it’s only words. The real story is the art in the show. I wanted to do a show where I could showcase a wide range of not only aesthetics, but countries. I wanted to expand on this idea of Neocontemporary Urban Art. Instead of focusing on Graffuturism, I wanted to expand the range, open up the margins, and create a survey that would be able to take a snapshot of the global landscape today. By documenting the present and allowing artists that might not get the chance to be in the smaller group shows, I hope to have a larger conversation. Instead of showing you 11 great artists with large works I wanted to show you 106 artists with smaller works. It is like doing 4 or 5 shows in one and allowing a wider audience to see a larger sample of what is happening within our genre.

 

—ekg

 

(Image on top: Poesia, Letter Study On Sheet Rock Sepia; Courtesy of the artist)



Posted by EKG on 3/17 | tags: graffuturism q&a

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Architecture and Paint Pendulums: An Interview with Douglas Hoekzema aka "HOXX"
by Allyson Parker


Douglas Hoekzema aka HOXX is a Miami based street artist and one of the O.G.’s to the Wynwood Art Scene. His murals can be found across the US, South America and Europe and his style is both precise and frenetic. We sat down with Hoekzema for a chance to get to know the man behind the walls... 



Allyson Parker: When did you start spray painting?

Douglas Hoekzema: I started when I was 15 years old when a good friend of mine Brandon Opalka introduced me to spray paint. I continued to paint through the years and collaborated with him on a lot of different murals. It's an amazing experience to learn technique from fellow crew members. I’ve been fortunate to team up with up MSG over the years and a handful of other artists who recognize Miami as a destination for street art. 

AP: How often do you collaborate with other street artists?

DH: Every time I travel I try to collaborate or at least go painting with an artist from that area. I have to say that linking up with other artists and seeing their city with them is one of my favorite aspects of graffiti/streetart. I seem to collaborate more in Miami since it is a destination for international artists to come and paint here, so it definitely has its benefits being a local to the scene. I’ve collaborated with Andrew Schoultz, Fintan Magee, Stink Fish, Cekis, and The Retna tribute wall in Wynwood which was a testament to my lift driving skills and our compatibility considering we painted an 80 foot wall in 13 hours.

AP: Your style of application is very unique. Have you always drafted like this or was it an evolution from a more traditional application?

DH: It has been an evolution. I started these techniques about 5 years ago and have continued to develop every time I paint. It's really quite amazing what a can of spray paint can do. I’ve mainly focused on a technique where I utilize half the cone of paint which leaves a U shaped mark. It evolved from graffiti fat cap hand style known as flares. Some people think I am using a stencil or that I’m pushing the tip of the can against the wall like Futura 2000 did but it's really all about how my hand approaches the wall and delivers the paint. There are endless possibilities and I truly enjoy working to discover as many as possible.

 

AP: Was it always your plan to become an artist?  

DH: No. Before this, I was studying architecture and painting was always just more of a stress reliever and a way to have fun with my crew MSG. It all changed for me when I graduated with my degree at the end of 2008. At that time there were zero opportunities to get hired so I shifted my focus to my art and I couldn't be happier. Eventually I will reach my architectural aspirations but in a non traditional way.

AP: Has your background in architecture played a role in your technique?

DH: Yes...The study of architecture helped me to develop a strong work ethic, to create prolific work and most importantly to analyze the outcome of the techniques and react to the nuisances that I discovered by continuing it onto the next piece.

 

AP: What's your preference, canvas or mural?

DH: Currently I enjoy both equally. I have found it to be a healthy practice to balance my studio work with public murals.

AP: Does your street art convey divergent messages from your gallery work?

DH: No, my studio and street work are of the same approach. In my work I have no interest in creating a message but on the streets I am very interested in what people/viewers see. I have heard various reactions from viewers who see feathers, coral, galaxies, flora, and one of my favorites is pencil shavings. When I work I strive to clear my thoughts and find a place of nothingness. If anything I give focus to composition and how elements interact. In the studio I work in the same manner but the reactions from studio visits are more elaborate. We get to converse on notions of architectural undertones and the line work of the paint pendulum. I’m not interested in delivering a “message” but perhaps creating a visual language that enables a creative dialogue.

AP: What is the greatest inspiration behind your work?

DH: I would have to say that currently it's the experimentation of painting techniques. I have focused on two methods or mediums, one being spray paint and the other is a paint pendulum. Both have allowed me to investigate the complexities of organic patterns and laws of gravity.  Really I’m inspired by Making and the act of creating through experimentation and creative freedom.

AP: Which artists do you admire most?  

DH: Roxy Paine, Chris Burden, Richard Serra, Gehard Richter, Rem Koolhaas just to name a few.   

AP: These are all very "physical" artists whose work either alters space or predominates it. Can you elaborate more on their influence in your work?

DH: I'm inspired by Serra for his scale, medium and architectural/environmental interventions. Roxy Paine and Chris Burden for their Kinetic works and fearless approach. Richter for being a Master of painting. I like all of these artists for their fearlessness and aggressive approaches.

 

AP:  Name a few cities where your street art can be found.

DH: San Francisco above the Park Life gallery and book store. Bogotá, Colombia with Pez and the Ink Crew. Vienna, Austria on the Sofitel Hotel and in three other areas within the city. Bronx and Brooklyn, NY...

AP: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

DH: Alive and healthy! ... I hope in that time to be working on large installations and sculptural projects. I will definitely still be painting but I'm looking forward to reacting to my paintings as blueprints for large sculptural projects. I hope that in 10 years I will be working with museums and collaborating with architects and scientists.

AP: What's next for Hoxx?

DH: Working in my studio and investigating on the possibilities of painting on layers of glass; I painted on a Jean Nouvel building last summer which was a glass facade building. I learned a lot from the experience... Glass as a painting surface is unforgiving but truly rewarding. It was a great medium to interact with and see a mural from both the exterior and interior. The way the paint manipulates the light and interacts with the interior introduced me to new concepts. I'm really looking forward to the new dimensions of painting on layers of glass and excited to be creating self standing multiple dimensional objects and not just 2d paintings. I will be showing at Galerie Ernst Hilger this summer as well...

 

For more information on Hoekzema’s work contact Butter Gallery Miami  

www.buttergallery.com

 

—Allyson Parker

 

(All images: Courtesy of the artist)

 



Posted by Allyson Parker on 3/25 | tags: q&a

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Subversive Interventions, between Brazil and Sweden: An Interview with Limpo
by Georgia Phillips-Amos


Known as, Limpo, Fabio Rocha is a Brazilian graffiti artist living and working between Salvador de Bahia, and Malmö, Sweden. Influenced by the Brazilian neo-realist painter Cândido Portinari, Limpo’s work challenges class precepts and makes visible the underbelly of contemporary Brazilian life. Limpo sees graffiti as an educational resource both for young artists and for the cities in which they paint.

He is constantly on the prowl for any naked patch of wall and in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil his paintings are as ubiquitous as the social issues his work grapples with.

I was able to interview him in late December of 2013.


Limpo, Rango Vegano; Courtesy of the artist


Georgia Phillips-Amos: What was your introduction to graffiti?

Limpo: I started drawing as a kid and by the time I was 12 I’d started using spray paint. I lived far from the city center and on my walk into the historical center I would see different tags on the streets; at some point started imagining my own drawings up on the walls.

GPA: Your real name is Fabio Rocha, where did the name Limpo come from?

Limpo: Limpo came from limpeza, which means clean; whenever I’d come home from painting I’d immediately shower and hide my dirty, paint-covered clothes.

GPA: Did you study fine art at any point?

Limpo: I spent three years studying at the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia, but that was pretty irrelevant to my work as a graffiti artist.

GPA: Is there a particular method to your painting?

Limpo: I am in Brazil now on a kind of graffiti tour, so I am painting everywhere in the city, especially the parts of the city with the most visibility. Really, my method is to paint as much as possible, whenever and wherever I am able.

GPA: Do you always paint alone?

Limpo: No, I am part of a crew called Turbilhão Urbano, together with Peace, Sisma, and Madureira. I am now based in Sweden and Peace is in Norway, but Sisma and Madureira are still in Brazil. Literally, Turbilhão Urbano means urban movement, urban turbulence. The distance doesn’t have much of an impact on our collaboration.

Limpo, Cart; Courtesy of the artist

 

GPA: How does being a graffiti artist living and working in-between such different cities impact your work?  

Limpo: My goal is to bring art to people who don’t go to galleries; this applies in Salvador and also in Malmö, Sweden where I live now. I have also painted elsewhere in Europe, in cities in France, Serbia, Barcelona, Denmark and Germany.

It is much easier to paint on the streets in Brazil than it is in Sweden—working in both countries allows me to support myself through my art. In Sweden I have been able to do a lot of different work with graffiti. I work out of a studio space in Malmö and before coming to Brazil I started working with big companies like L'oreal, E-on as well as some housing development agencies.

GPA: What do you see as the social function of your work?

Limpo: I still see graffiti as a subversive intervention. For me, the potential social mechanism of graffiti is to improve the self-esteem of marginalized young people in cities, introducing them to something they haven’t tried before and encouraging them to participate in a social infrastructure generated through art.

My hope is to spark in them a curiosity about the world; I’d like to give young people a chance to see beyond the ways in which they are discriminated against. And, inversely I’d like graffiti to play a role in re-socializing urban centers.

Limpo, Play; Courtesy of the artist

 

GPA: The style of your painting is very distinctive. Have you always painted figures?

Limpo: The figure that I paint was born out of the social work I do with children. I paint children who live on the streets—young girls who grow up early in order to take responsibility of the household, girls who from a young age no longer have time to play like children.

GPA: What inspires you?

Limpo: In style, my work is influenced by older Brazilian painters like Cândido Portinari.

At the moment I am motivated to make an intervention in the prejudice we have towards people living on the streets. I paint the conditions of suffering that we see people living in here in Bahia, the sucked out faces, the bright colors of their clothes, the attempt to hide their struggling.

 

Limpo, Comercio; Courtesy of the artist

Limpo, Mama; Courtesy of the artist

Limpo, Painting; Courtesy of the artist

 

 

—Georgia Phillips-Amos

 

(Image on top: Limpo, Green; Courtesy of the artist)

 

 

 



Posted by Georgia Phillips-Amos on 3/31 | tags: q&a

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Child's Play: A Couple Kids Interview HIN
by Charlotte Jansen


From a background in illustration (clients have included the Swing-pop band The Correspondents) Hin started putting his paste-up series on the streets of East London (where he has been a resident for almost a decade) a few years back; his derisive depictions of the world’s worst political leaders – among the most popular, Gaddafi on a tiny bike, Berlusconi, and Putin – have become irrepressibly popular with the local audience, as much as his collaborations with artists such as Pablo Delgado and Cranio. I call them in my head the Peter Pan Posse – a bunch of solo artists dwelling in East London, who don’t really fit into the conventional graf crowd, not so much street artists as people who refuse to grow up, and like making their art into a kind of public game, and if it’s a little bit cheeky, then that’s good too.

A recurrent theme in Hin’s work is childhood: the irridescent allure of our innocent dreams and the brutal interruption when they are coarsely chopped by the delusions and anxieties of adulthood. You can see it in the way his drawings, crafted with the technical precision of a fine artist, are painted over with naive playground fetishes, as if vandalising his own work with a school kid’s hand.

Given this exaltation of infant reverie in Hin’s work – and his ongoing creative projects with actual children too – I thought I would exploit the two children of my life (thank you to my nephew Rio and my niece Millie Mae, age 5 and 9 respectively), to come up with some questions for this interview. They came up with goods… 


HIN, Look pretty you can be; Courtesy of the artist


Do you like macaroni cheese?

I used to but once my ex-girlfriend made it and burnt the cheese so bad and I almost vomit. It left a scar on me.

What is your nickname? And if you could change your name, what would you change it to?

I have a lot. Some friends call me ‘Lin’ in Hong Kong. Which means 'boob' in Cantonese.

If I could I might change my name to Ding Dang Dong so I can be a living stereotype.

HIN, Wonder Mary; Courtesy of the artist

 

If you were a girl, where would you buy your clothes?

Barbie shop.

Do you admire Banksy?

I have huge respect for him. Celebrity without a face is much more interesting. At least they don’t make you want to lose weight.

What inspired you to create your art?

Stupidity. I am trying to remain stupid for the rest of my life, but you have to be very clever to achieve that. 

Courtesy of the artist

 

Why do you do graffiti?

Because sometimes I want to say something (something fun or angry) but I don’t want to use my Facebook wall. In most metropolitan city, many people are desperate to share but too 'busy' to do so. I guess that’s why most graffiti are in the city.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

I had so many but my memory isn’t so good with these things but I remember once I was in the tube full of people. A woman who looked pregnant was standing in front of me so I offered her my seat thinking ‘man, I’m such a good person.’ But she looked at me like ‘thanks but why me!?’ I was confused so I pointed at her belly and said ‘because you are pregnant.’ Which was really stupid of me. She looked at me like she was going to slap me and left the tube. People around looked at me like a criminal. I guess she wasn’t pregnant.

HIN, Super Jesus; Courtesy of the artist

 

Who is the most inspiring celebrity you know?

There are many but for me Bob Dylan is someone I feel connect to. For good and bad. 

What was your favourite kids TV show?

mmmm…the only kids TV show I watched was because you can win Lego if you participate but other than that is Dragon Ball which isn’t very much a kid's show.

When you were growing up, what did you want to be?

The first Cantonese footballer to play in the Premier League.

HIN, Home; Courtesy of the artist

 

What’s your favourite animal?

A tiny monkey that doesn’t trash everything around.

What do you do with your bogies?

When I was a kid I used to just eat them but now I’m an adult I understand I must share it around also.

What is your favourite art piece to do?

I don't think I have any favourite piece to do but 1 of the most important piece of my mine is a giant painting that I did 10 years ago. It's a piece that I'll never sell.

HIN, Catwoman; Courtesy of the artist

 

Who is your favourite artist?

I don't have any favourite. I'm a big fan of Outsider Art. One of the most powerful thing I've seen is from an Outsider artist called Raymond Morales.

What shampoo do you use?

I use whatever shampoo that creates lots of bubbles.

Why did you do this interview?

I'm normally open to written interview. The fact that the questions are done by 2 kids makes it more appealing.  

HIN, Flying Police; Courtesy of the artist

 

Hin’s work appears as part of a group show ‘Consequences’ curated by the Qabinet at London’s Red Gallery, in Summer 2014.

http://hin-art.com

HIN, Iron lady; Courtesy of the artist

HIN, Reborn; Courtesy of the artist

HIN, Osama Skipping; Courtesy of the artist

HIN, Walk into my life; Courtesy of the artist

HIN logo; Courtesy of the artist

 

—Charlotte Jansen

 

(Image on top: HIN, Gadaffi; Courtesy of the artist)

 

 

 



Posted by Charlotte Jansen on 4/10 | tags: q&a

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Jeroen Erosie, Graphic Surgery, Tomek
Galerie Celal
45, rue St Honore, 75001 Paris, France
March 13, 2014 - April 12, 2014


Crossing Hybrids: A forward-thinking group show at Galerie Celal
by Charlotte Jansen


A highlight among Paris’ current offerings is this forward-thinking group exhibition from four innovative artists: Tomek (of Parisian PAL crew) Graphic Surgery (Erris Huigens and Gysbert Zijlstra, Netherlands) and graffiti writer Jeroen Erosie (also hailing from the Netherlands).

All four artists featured in this show play with the idea of a freestyle navigation of architecture and the surfaces of the built environment. The dynamic nature of the artists’ respective backgrounds in graffiti, and their attachment to their surroundings is a visible influence on the works presented (the confrontation between fast-moving lines, materials applied by scatching and erasing different surfaces) but the outcomes are quite different: from ordered chaos to the expressionistic.

Graphic Surgery; Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Celal

 

The exhibition (whose apt title translates as ‘crossing’ or ‘hybridisation’) at Galerie Celal proves that the remoulding of this irksome ‘street art’ genre will inevitably come through the discussion generated by the artists themselves through their art. Drop by if you’re in Paris in the coming weeks.

Tomek; Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Celal

 

—Charlotte Jansen

 

(Image on top: Jeroen Erosie; Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Celal)

 



Posted by Charlotte Jansen on 3/21 | tags: news

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TANC
Galerie Wallworks
4 rue Martel, 75010 Paris, France
January 17, 2014 - March 29, 2014


The Minimal Calligraphic: TANC at Galerie Wallworks
by ArtSlant STREET


Everyone knows the basis of graffiti is the handstyle. And from that: the gesture, the push of ink on surface, the swoops and sharp turns, the permanence, the no-going-back-it's-on-the-wall. Many artists have been known to make writing the subject of their art, to explore the aesthetics of text, to engage in automatic writing, and in that sense Tanc's work is not the first of its kind. But nevertheless it is stunning: the lines of text, illegible as such, take on a minimal aesthetic, becoming simply form and color rather than message. How he recreates the look of marker – with the ink showing traces of its own impression on the support – with just spray paint completely mystifies me. I'd love to see these up close and personal, and if you're in Paris you can, at Galerie Wallworks until April 5.

Born in 1979 in Paris, Tanc grew up with graffiti. Painter, graphic artist, designer and composer of electronic music, he joined the great family of graffiti in 1996 and carries on an abstract formal research, similar to the first liveliness of street art: balance of action, perfection gesture, acceptance of the hazard, uniqueness and energy.

While the manuscript nowadays tends to disappear, Tanc explores the aesthetic dimension of writing. Inspired by his high school years, when he took notes and produced pages as illegible as they seemed nice, he develops a system of automatic writing, executed entirely with spray paint, halfway between the calligraphy and graffiti.

www.galerie-wallworks.com

(text source: Galerie Wallworks)

TANC, Sans titre (grey on white), 2013, spray paint and lacquer on canvas, 144 x 130 cm; © Clément Guillaume

TANC, view of the exhibition “Automatism” at Wallworks Galerie, Paris, january 2014; © Clément Guillaume

TANC, view of the exhibition “Automatism” at Wallworks Galerie, Paris, january 2014; © Clément Guillaume

TANC, view of the exhibition “Automatism” at Wallworks Galerie, Paris, january 2014; © Clément Guillaume

TANC, view of the exhibition “Automatism” at Wallworks Galerie, Paris, january 2014; © Clément Guillaume

TANC, Sans titre (yellow), 2014, spray paint and lacquer on canvas, 80 x 65 cm; © Clément Guillaume

TANC, portrait, january 2014; © Clément Guillaume

TANC, Sans titre (blue), 2013, spray paint and lacquer on canvas, 135 x 120 cm; © Clément Guillaume


TANC, Sans titre (red), 2014, spray paint and lacquer on canvas, 80 x 65 cm © Clément Guillaume

TANC, portrait, 2013; © Ahn Sun Mi


TANC, Sans titre (grey on grey), 2014, spray paint and lacquer on canvas, 100 x 80 cm; © Clément Guillaume

TANC, Sans titre, 2014, spray paint on paper, 65 x 56 cm; © Clément Guillaume

TANC, Sans titre (red), 2013, spray paint and lacquer on canvas, 135 x 120 cm © Clément Guillaume

 

For further information...(ArtSlant Profile) (Gallery)

 

[Image on top: TANC, Sans titre (orange), 2014, spray paint and lacquer on canvas, 100 x 80 cm; © Clément Guillaume]



Posted by ArtSlant STREET on 3/21 | tags: news

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Huge Installation In Pakistan Brings Drone Operators Face-to-face With Their Targets
by Max Nesterak


Drone operators don’t see the faces of their targets. Sitting in military offices thousands of miles away from combat zones, they have a term for their kills, appearing to them as grainy dots on a computer screen: bug splats.

A group of Pakistani artists is working to fight the insensitivity of such impersonal warfare with a project called #NotABugSplat, which gives a face to otherwise anonymous victims. Building on French artist JR’s Inside Out Project, they installed a huge portrait of a young girl, who was orphaned by a drone attack which also killed her two younger siblings. Now when flying over Pakistan’s heavily bombed northwestern Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa region, the operators will come face-to-face with one of their victims. #NotABugSplat reports the region has already witnessed some 380 drone strikes, which killed thousands of people, hundreds of whom were children. They write:

“It is [the artists’] hope that this will create empathy and introspection amongst drone operators, and will create dialogue amongst policy makers, eventually leading to decisions that will save innocent lives.”

 

—Max Nesterak

 

(All images: Courtesy of Not a Bug Splat)

 



Posted by Max Nesterak on 4/8 | tags: news

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Tatyana Fazlalizadeh
Betti Ono
1427 Broadway, Suite B, Oakland, CA 94612
March 7, 2014 - May 2, 2014


Silencing the Catcalls: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh's Stop Telling Women To Smile Project Makes an Impact
by Eva Recinos


When Tatyana Fazlalizadeh posted a wheatpaste portrait of herself with the words "Stop Telling Women to Smile," she wanted to make a statement.

And in many ways, she succeeded. The artist posted her piece on a street in New York to tell street harassers that the cliché lines they yell at women need to stop. Instead of smiling and moving on, Fazlalizadeh chose to post a portrait of herself with her strong words; in the drawing she does not smile and instead keeps a locked jaw and defiant gaze.

Soon, Fazlalizadeh began taking her project to other cities and media outlets caught wind of her efforts. She hosted open calls for women to share their stories of street harassment and created portraits of them similar to her self-portrait. Each portrait contains a phrase underneath like “My Outfit is Not an Invitation” and “My name is not baby, shorty, sexy, sweetie, honey, pretty, boo sweetheart, ma.”

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh; Courtesy of the artist and Betti Ono

 

Since its beginnings in the fall of 2012, the project expanded quickly and led to a successful Kickstarter campaign. Fazlalizadeh initially set a goal for $15,000 so that she could travel to more cities and film the project. The campaign raised more $34,000.

The artist recently spent a little over a week in the Bay Area, completing an artist residency at Betti Ono in Oakland. During her time there, she hosted discussions and met women who served as the subjects for new portraits exhibited in the gallery. Her work resulted in the current show entitled “Stop Telling Women to Smile.” Fazlalizadeh is already moving on to other cities and thinking of where the project might go in the future.

“I’m trying to get ahold of the project,” said Fazlalizadeh. “It is moving very quickly and sometimes it’s a little difficult to keep up with it. Sometimes it’s like I’m not leading the project but catching up with it… I’m heading to Atlanta next week and Baltimore at the end of April and from there—after I have some time to sit and settle down back in New York—I’m really going to start planning out what’s next.”

On one Saturday afternoon, Betti Ono pulsed with music. Inside, people mingled and looked through the racks of clothing and accessories in the front room. In the space of Fazlalizadeh’s exhibition, a group of preteen girls milled about. At one point they stood in front of some of the wheatpastes and took a group photo.

The three large posters behind them show the faces of women with phrases like "respect that gay women do not want you" and "I am not public space." These large-scale posters dominate the space, the white of the wheatpasted paper contrasting sharply with the black wall.

Seeing the wheatpaste pieces inside versus outside makes for an interesting visual element. Viewers can tell where each piece of paper fits in with the other, maintaining the do-it-yourself and on-the-go attitude of street art. Yet the dark wall and monumental scale challenge the viewer to see the wheatpastes in a different manner. The large portraits feel intimate and powerful. Protected from outside factors like weather and the markings of commentators, they stay pristine and unaltered.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Original portraits on wood; Courtesy Alfonso Cosio with Oakland Art Enthusiast

 

On the remaining walls, Fazlalizadeh displays her drawings and oil paintings as well. Though the street art project has gotten her quite a bit of fanfare, she continues to make art in other mediums.

“I’m definitely not abandoning oil painting. I still do that, I still paint, I still do freelance illustration work,” said Fazlalizadeh. “This project has been my focus and the main thing I’ve been doing and getting attention for, which is fine, but it’s definitely not the only thing I’m doing... I do love wheatpaste. It’s fun and it’s great and I’ll absolutely continue it and also other forms of art that were already there that I enjoy doing as well.”

The exhibition at Betti Ono does a commendable job of offering a personal look at the women portrayed. Viewers can see the photographs of the women that inspired the posters, and in some cases, drawings alongside their versions in oil and wheatpasted poster form. The show also includes the original portrait of Fazlalizadeh, in both oil paint and wheatpaste, that first sparked the project.

“I did it for myself,” said Fazlalizadeh. “It was supposed to be support for myself and it happened to do that for other women as well.”

In fact, although the project and exhibition might seem explicitly directed towards men and street harassers the most important part of the project actually lies in the impact it can make on women.

“It’s for men and women, but mostly for women to walk past these and see them and feel like they have an advocate,” said Fazlalizadeh. “They have someone out there defending them. They have artwork, something out there creating a presence, a strong presence that is speaking back to harassers in a way that a single voice can’t. So while it’s definitely for men—I’m interested in their reactions and responses—it’s also for women. It’s to be their support and be there for them.”

Before working on this project, Fazlalizadeh’s only experience creating public art was a mural she painted for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. “Stop Telling Women Not to Smile” takes the power of public art even one step further. In the photographs and portaits, many of the artist’s subjects exert a strong or defiant look in their eyes. Putting the portraits out in the public sphere takes full advantage of what street art does best—stop us in our tracks, interrupt our daily flow and leave us with food for thought.

“Putting this work out on the street is what is important about this project,” said Fazlalizadeh. “It would’ve been something totally different and not as effective if not a street art project and not in the public. The whole point is about street harassment and it happens outdoors anywhere to anyone. Any woman is subject to it just being outside in the street so I wanted to put this work out there where it happened so anyone can see it.”

“Stop Telling Women to Smile” runs until April 19 at Betti Ono Gallery, 1427 Broadway, Oakland. 

 

—Eva Recinos

 

(Image on top: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Stop Telling Women To Smile, Wheatpaste, Original Drawing, Oil On Wood; Courtesy Alfonso Cosio with Oakland Art Enthusiast)



Posted by Eva Recinos on 4/7 | tags: Street Critique

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THE L.I.S.A. PROJECT | A proletariat art form that’s actually for the people
by Allyson Parker


Sitting at Umbertos Clam House on Mulberry street, business owner Robert Ianniello, pours a glass of water for each member of an impromptu round table called to discuss murals, community, and commerce. A curator, an art critic, a producer and a photographer gather around the table alongside Ianniello, the founder of the Little Italy Merchants Association, to discuss the growth and development of the L.I.S.A Project, a street art campaign dedicated to beautifying the streets of Lower Manhattan.

“The challenge for Little Italy is to move away from its stigma as a tourist trap,” says Ianniello pouring from the bottle of Pana water. “We went way over the line so now we’re trying to draw New York City back.” Ianniello, who's a third generation Italian, assembled the troupe of independent business owners to mobilize the voices of Little Italy into an organized coalition. Today, the neighborhood might be most commonly associated with over priced napoleons and crowded street fairs but dating back to the early 19th century Little Italy was once home to a rich immigrant population of Italian American entrepreneurs and tradesmen. For the Merchants Association supporting the L.I.S.A Project is a way to bring culture back to the streets of Little Italy.

Hanksy.

L.I.S.A., which stands for the Little Italy Street Art Project, started in 2012 by Founder Wanye Rada who was working as a producer for the New York Comedy Festival. He had the idea to paint murals around the area as a promotional tool to advertise the festival to a creative audience. He reached out to curator and street art blogger (and eventual co-founder) RJ Rushmore and together they developed a small program that brought artist Hanksy (a combination of Tom Hanks and Banksy known for his pun infused murals) to the walls of Caffe Roma, an Italian pastry shop that has been in the same location since 1891. The mural became so popular that it outlived its original festival-centric time frame by an additional 6 months. 

Rada, who was a friend of the association, bringing the evidence of street arts' ability to generate foot traffic and act as an economic stimulus to the neighborhood, proposed a long term initiative to transform Little Italy into a veritable Street Art District. Together, Rada and Rushmore along with the help of photographer and archivist Reynaldo Rosa, began importing world-renowned artists and adorning the walls of Little Italy with beautiful renditions of the proletariat art form. For them there is a real opportunity to incorporate the artists into the narrative of Little Italy’s growth and revitalization by introducing them to the local population and resources. Artist Max “Ripo” Rippon for instance, created a site specific installation based on research conducted at the Italian American Museum while ChrisRWK adorned the walls of Umberto’s Clam House with a customized Mona Lisa at the personal request of the business owner.      

Chris x Veng RWK.

The project, which is fully funded by The Merchants Association and private donors speaks volumes to the power of street art. Once a technique commonly associated with vandalism and feared by property owners is now creating a resurgence in the interest of Little Italy’s creative community. Artists such as Ron English and Olek have contributed monumental sized installations to the community and Martha Cooper, the mother of Street Art Photography has visited the neighborhood to document its progression.

Ron English, Olek.

The ultimate goal of the L.I.S.A Project is to expand its reach across Lower Manhattan to the neighboring communities of Chinatown, the Financial District and the Lower East Side to connect the disparate immigrant populations that have been marginalized in New York’s history. District 1 council woman, Margaret Chin has shown an incredible amount of support for the project and has been known to attend opening receptions and dedication ceremonies. 

Tristan Eaton

2013 culminated in the installation of the L.I.S.A Project's permanent mural by Tristan Eaton, Liberty, which was produced in conjunction with Shane Jessup and can be seen from one of Lower Manhattan’s busiest street corners of Canal and Mulberry. Eventually, the project seeks to have a virtual map and application that will enhance the viewer's experience of each one of their murals from the street level and allow technology to create new relationships between community members.

Chris x Veng RWK.

Tristan Eaton, Audrey of Mulberry

NDA

Ludo

The Yok, Sheryo

a.s.v.p. close up

 

For more information on the L.I.S.A. Project please visit www.lisaprojectnyc.org

 

—Allyson Parker

 

(All images: Courtesy of the author. Top image: Meres1 x Spud)



Posted by Allyson Parker on 3/31 | tags: Street Critique

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Dain
Folioleaf
111 Front St., #226 DUMBO, Brooklyn, New York 11201
April 3, 2014 - May 17, 2014


DAIN's First NY Solo Show in 7 Years Opens Tomorrow at Folioleaf
by ArtSlant STREET


It's the artist's first show in NYC in seven years. Opening tomorrow, you can check out DAIN's latest collages at New York's Folioleaf Gallery in Dumbo. Borrowing from the rich traditions of photomontage and collage, embellished with dashes of hot pink and yellow, neon greens and blues – a bit like Hannah Höch on acid – DAIN's works seem old and new at the same time.

Folioleaf is proud to announce an exhibition of new paintings by the elusive Brooklyn-based street artist, DAIN, who layers black and white collages with vibrant pigments and spray paint.  In his collages, DAIN appropriates images found in contemporary periodicals. Through his elegant juxtapositions, DAIN adopts the content and contexts of the original images to create his own surreal portraits.

Using images of Hollywood icons and fashion models,  DAIN splices and overlaps famous faces, creating hybrid ‘icons’ that dissociate the familiar to create something a bit more surreal. Coupling male and female identity into unified characters, DAIN points to a disjointed harmony, which simultaneously complements and detracts from the whole. In his correlated images, famous personalities (and our idealizations of them) become subsidiary and empty.

(text source: Folioleaf)

 

Dain, Shade My Love, 2014 Collage, acrylic and  enamel on board 48 × 36 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf

 

More on Dain:

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, the elusive DAIN is considered to be one of the more influential artists to emerge from the NY street art movement. DAIN faithfully produces works that are both evocative and beautiful in their composition. His love for old hollywood glam is evident in much of his work. His trademark 'circle and drip' around the eye still remains a mystery. This, along with his roots in graffiti, create a gritty yet delicate art style that is all his own. DAIN's art has been featured in galleries in New York, Chicago, Miami, Portland, Montreal, Paris and London.

(text source:Folioleaf)

Dain, Brookelyn, 2014, Collage, acrylic and  enamel on board, 48 × 36 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf

Dain, Hoodwink Loren, 2014, Collage, acrylic and  enamel on board, 40 × 30 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf

Dain, Puzzleface, 2014, Collage, acrylic and  enamel on board, 48 × 36 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf

Dain, Glamorous Mess, 2014, Collage, acrylic and  enamel on board, 48 × 36 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf

Dain, Deerly Beloved, 2014, Collage, acrylic and  enamel on board, 48 × 36 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf

Dain, If The Shoe Fits, 2014, Collage, acrylic and enamel on board, 48 × 36 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf

Dain, Untitled (Party Girl), 2014, Collage, acrylic and  enamel on board Framed by artist, 48 × 36 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf

Dain, Taylor On My Mind, 2014, Collage, acrylic and  enamel on board, 48 × 36 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf

Dain, Untitled, 2014, Collage, acrylic and  enamel on board, 48 × 36 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf

Dain, Clockhead, 2014, Collage, acrylic and  enamel on board, 48 × 36 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf

 

For further information...(ArtSlant Profile) (Galleries: Folioleaf, Lebenson Gallery)

 

(Image on top: Dain, Untitled (Kim), 2014, Collage, acrylic and  enamel on board, 48 × 36 inches; © Dain / Courtesy Folioleaf)



Posted by ArtSlant STREET on 3/19 | tags: news

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Behind the Mural: NOBODY pays tribute to the Passing of Anti-war Street Artist Army of One
by Monica Torres


In Wynwood, there are many murals. Onlookers pass the artworks on the streets and admire the creations in good fun, but observers may not realize that there’s a deep, human story behind many of the works. A new mural, next to bustling Panther Coffee, where Miami’s artistic community convenes, is tribute to a recent death. A child with a tear drop in his eye holds a toy grenade, red paint dripping onto his hands. The boy’s shorts are marked with John Lennon’s lyrics, “Give Peace a Chance." The mural is inscribed in bright blood-red letters with the phrase “R.I.P Army of One, (1961-2014).”

Miami artist TMNK (The Me Nobody Knows) aka NOBODY created the mural in Wynwood as a tribute to the life of fellow street artist Jef Campion, also known as Army of One. The Brooklyn street artist lost his life to suicide in January. 

TMNK, tribute to Army of One; courtesy of Wynwood Map

 

The late Jef Campion was known for putting up anti-war artwork with the same image of the toy grenade-toting boy, from Diane Arbus’ famous photograph Child With a Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park. Just down the street from Panther Coffee, in front of Gramps Bar, up high on a graffiti-crowded street-side electricity pole, there remains an Army of One piece; a sheet of paper printed as a Los Angeles Times front-page news feature, shows a similar apparition. In this piece, the boy’s wide eyes and twisted grimace reflect the derangement of man-made war on the childlike purity of the human spirit. The words “the guns, the bombs, the rockets, and the war ships, are all symbols of human failure” sprawl out in simple letters over the outlined image of warped innocence.

Diane Arbus, Child With a Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, 1962; Courtesy of the artist

 

Campion put up artwork with Arbus’ famous image over the streets of cities such as New York and Miami. Like the photographer Diane Arbus, Jef Campion sadly also took his life. Eerily, Campion lived a few doors down from Arbus’ former residence in New York.

Along with being a street artist and lone street-soldier of peace, Campion was also a New York City firefighter. He was a first responder during 911 and helped in the recovery efforts at Ground Zero, an experience that influenced his anti-violence street art. 

Next time you pass through Wynwood and admire the art on the streets, remember there is most likely a story behind the mural.

 

 

—Monica Torres

 

(Image on top: Jef Campion, aka Army of One; Courtesy of the artist)



Posted by Monica Torres on 3/21 | tags: news

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TONIGHT: SPARK SOME FUN!
by Allyson Parker


NYC based & internationally recognized creative distributer Street Attack has been pounding the graffiti pavement in preparation for this year's Winter Music Conference kicking off Friday March, 21 in Miami and partying strong until March 30, 2014. In preparation for this year's festivities Street Attack has partnered with E.D.M legend Deadmau5 and personal watercraft purveyor Sea-Doo in a street art scavenger hunt that combines social media metrics & street activations all for a chance to win tickets to an invite only concert this Sunday, March 23rd at 8pm featuring Deadmau5.   

 

Step 1. Find one of the several mural and activations scattered around town with the hashtag #sparksomefun (we’ll give you a hint, a handful are in Wynwood). Featured muralists include Australian duo DABS MYLA, Atlanta native Greg Mike & Miami O.G Abstrak who combine their bold creations with hidden icons and messaging scattered throughout their pieces. Other items to look out for are Deadmau5 signature “mouse heads” walking around town or hidden between seat cushions.  

 

 

Greg Mike; photo courtesy of Robert de los Rios.

 

Step 2. Snap a pic and upload to instagram, facebook or twitter with the appropriate hashtag. You’ll receive a prompt. Follow the clues. If completed correctly, you’ll receive two complimentary tickets to Sunday’s performance hosted at the Fountainebleau’s lawn for 500 VIP invite-only guests.  

Dabs Myla; photo courtesy Wynwoodmap.com.

 

Good Luck!

 

Spark Some Fun

www.sparksomefun.com

 

—Allyson Parker

 

(Image at top: ABSTRAK, #SPARKSOMEFUN Truck; Photo courtesy of Robert William De Los Rios.)

 

 



Posted by Allyson Parker on 3/23 | tags: news

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LA Mural Culture: The Good, the Ban and the Ugly
by Kimberly B. Johnson


Los Angeles mural culture is not to be taken lightly; the art and its roots of perseverance run deep. Through political, societal and cultural shifts, murals have acted as the visual documentation of the most pivotal accolades and darkest moments of Los Angeles city history.

In the 1960s and 70s, Chicano pride laid the foundation for mural enthusiasm, producing projects such as The Great Wall of Los Angeles and the famed Ghosts of the Barrio. The community blossomed, creating hundreds of iconic murals over the course of several years. Ultimately, Los Angeles had no other choice but to accept its rightful place as the “mural capital of the world.”

Segment of The great Wall of Los Angeles depicting the baby boomer generation; Image photographed by Urban Bamboo.

 

However, in recent years, LA’s reputation in the mural game has been soiled. The 1980s proved the city’s prominence as a bustling metropolis, causing commercial advertisers to take notice. Soon creative ads became a regular sight where sporadic community based murals once lived. The visual shift opened the controversial discussion between what is considered ad and what is considered art. In 1986, the first mention of murals hit LA law books. The city worked with community organizations and public art programs to preserve the relaxed attitude relating to murals, all the while rewriting the books to hinder mainstream propaganda from cluttering city walls. In 2002, after a tiresome slew of lawsuits against the city brought on by advertisers, LA opted out of the conversation entirely—hitting the public with an all-out mural moratorium.

The streets were silenced. Art had been subdued. All uncommissioned murals—even permissioned murals on private property—were banned. LA’s crown was stripped and the City of Angels had lost its halo.

Saber's LA River piece before it's white-walling in 2009; Source: puregraffiti.com



But in 2011— after nearly a decade of mural repression— graffiti artist Saber spearheaded the movement focused on getting the mural ordinance reevaluated. This came only after a number of crushing public art losses including the white-walling of Saber’s 1997 piece along the LA River in 2009. The labored work, measuring in at 50 feet tall and 350 feet wide, goes down in history as the largest graffiti piece in the world to date.

In 2011—one week before MOCA’s hugely successful “Art in the Streets” exhibition— another invaluable piece of art was buffed with regards to the city’s wishy-washy moratorium rules. In 2010, LA’s Known Gallery commissioned seven celebrated graffiti artists to complete a mural on a building located on Fairfax and Rosemead. The group included Saber, Retna, Revok, Rime, Norm and the Brazilian twin duo, Os Gemeos. The following year, a city-contracted buffing company began layering paint over the mural with seemingly no effort in confirming its legality or illegality. After a heads-up from the property owner and a lawsuit threat from the owner of Known, the buffing company resolved the issue by paying for and overseeing the paint’s removal. The mural underwent minimal damage from the removal process, but is still intact and stands tall today.

Australian artists Dabs and Myla's collaboration with German twin duo How and Nosm located at 713 E. 3rd. St.; Image photographed by Doran

 

Staying in line with the mural counter culture, creative energy doesn’t stand stoic for long. The LA Free Walls Project sprouted into action in 2011 led by LALA Gallery owner and street art ally, Daniel Lahoda. The short version is this; by looking at the caliber of art and artists who contributed to the cause, this was arguably one of the best things to happen to the Los Angeles landscape in years. Ironically enough, what some may rightfully see as a service to the city could have gotten each artist arrested. Although every wall was permissioned by the property owners, all of the murals—under the 2002 moratorium—were technically illegal. Some examples of these astounding—albeit illicit—murals include Dabs and Myla’s collaboration with How and Nosm on “Cream of the Crop,” ROA’s “California Brown Bear,” OBEY’s “Peace Goddess” and JR’s “Wrinkles of the City”.

ROA's California Brown Bear Mural located on the west end of Jesse and Imperial streets; Image photographed by Doran


Fastforward to the summer of 2013 and the moratorium is officially lifted. Headway in rebuilding LA’s reputation as the mural capital is well underway. However—as with any good drama—the denouement has newly transitioned to a point of rising tension.

Just months after the law change, those closely involved with the ordinance lift jumped head first into mural projects that dealt directly with commercial advertisements—a dually noted offence against the new legislation. Risk’s January 2014 mural for Miller Brewing Co’s new Fortune beer stands as the subject’s hottest topic. As a revered graffiti icon—having been the first and presumably last LA artist to have his work run on the legendary New York subway system—Risk has some undeniable street clout. Unfortunately, his “mural” on 3rd and South Main has made him a topic of discussion for less flattering reasons. The controversy, confusion and all round conundrum with Risk’s Miller collaboration was chronicled by RJ Rushmore here.

Fortunately, for those of us who just want to see the long-awaited bright side to this layered story, there is one.

One of French street artist JR's installments in his Wrinkles of the City series located in the LA Arts District; Image photographed by Phantom Gallery LA

 

New murals—murals with vitality and substance—have sprouted throughout the LA landscape. The first legal mural in nearly a decade was executed this February by Risk and OBEY. The mural, reading “hope” and “justice,” was produced in conjunction with the Skid Row Housing Project as a way to input something that was once taken away from the community. Bigger and better things are to come, LA. Stay up!

 

—Kimberly Johnson

 

(Image on top: Shepard Fairey, Peace Goddess located at 3rd St. and Traction Ave.; Image photographed by Tom Kershaw)



Posted by Kimberly B. Johnson on 4/3 | tags: Street Critique

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Cyrcle
StolenSpace Gallery
17 Osborn Street, London E1 6TD, United Kingdom
March 7, 2014 - April 6, 2014


Rulers are Meant to be Broken: CYRCLE at StolenSpace
by Charlotte Jansen


The most-hyped gallery opening of the last week on the London circuit has been the arrival of US art crew CYRCLE.

The extrovert duo (formerly trio) has an unusually camera-friendly approach but their sun-fuelled positivity with what they do and their conceptual approach to interactive public art has made their debut heavily anticipated.

Cyrcle;Courtesy of the Artists and StolenSpace Gallery

 

They clearly enjoy paranomasia – concepts for the Stolenspace show are ‘rulers are meant to be broken’ and ‘scramble for power’ (I would have gone for ‘Scrabble for Power’, if we’re doing word games) – as much as their visual interactions with the public space; their propensity for sloganism is maybe the reason Shepard Fairey has endorsed them so ferverently. The current show (at Stolenspace’s beautiful new Osborne Street gallery) explores the control the synechdoche of power exerts on the collective conscience – making chaos out of order – a theme that has remained central in their work of the last two years.

The pair’s most treaded territory is LA, where they have completed huge murals (including an 11,000 square foot wall in Echo Park). Fresh from graf camp Powwow Hawaii, where they pulled off another massive wall in two days, the collective hit London and received a warm reception, painting a mural on East London’s Leonard Street ahead of the opening last Thursday night.

 

—Charlotte Jansen

 

(Image on top: Cyrcle, Leonard St; Courtesy of the Artists and StolenSpace Gallery)



Posted by Charlotte Jansen on 3/18 | tags: news

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Thierry Noir
Howard Griffin Gallery
189 Shoreditch High Street , Shoreditch , London E1 6HU, United Kingdom
April 4, 2014 - May 9, 2014


Show Highlight: Thierry Noir at Howard Griffin Gallery, London
by Charlotte Jansen


Opening last night in London at Howard Griffin Gallery (who are also behind the East London street art tour organisers, Street Art London) and running to the 5 May, Thierry Noir: A Retrospective is an unusual presentation in that it is both the artist's first ever solo exhibition, and his retrospective.

Noir is known for having painted the Berlin wall every day for five years, back in the mid 80s – a subversive and somewhat bonkers act – motivated by sadness and ending in an enduring legacy.

Howard Griffin is a new gallery space located on Shoreditch High Street dedicated to artists working with transitional media. Here, they will transform the compact space into a document of Noir’s life and work, with originals, interviews and photographs to describe the scope of the artist’s practice. A series of screen prints will also be released to coincide with the exhibition.

 

 

—Charlotte Jansen

 

(Image on top:Thierry Noir, Thierry Noir painting at Check Point Charlie, 1990s; Courtesy Howard Griffin Gallery)

 

 



Posted by Charlotte Jansen on 4/5 | tags: news

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Rone
StolenSpace Gallery
17 Osborn Street, London E1 6TD, United Kingdom
April 11, 2014 - May 4, 2014


Rone: Debut UK Exhibition
by Devon Caranicas


Similar to St Marks place in New York or the Venice Boardwalk in Los Angeles, East London’s Brick Lane is a small stretch of road whose reputation is both its blessing and its curse. In the heart of Shoreditch, this once ‘gritty’ mile of curry houses and industrial brewery buildings was the YBA 90’s hang out. Now, twenty years and many Lonely Planet write-ups later, Brick Lane often feels like a playground for tourists in search of a one-stop shop for East London cool kid culture replete with overpriced vintage clothes, trendy pop-ups and a heavy rotation of street art.

Just south of Brick Lane you can find StolenSpace, an airy two-room gallery that specializes in urban art (namely street art and graffiti). The premise in itself is a conflicting one, the hot potato of the art world. On one hand, the idea of legitimizing a somewhat rogue practice and giving unorthodox artists a platform for representation is something that is not just commendable, but necessary, for the privatised art world. However, on the other hand, one is faced with the problematic nature of trying to commodify the un-commodifiable, and the inevitable dilemma of translation from site specificity to white box gallery.

At the heart of this paradox is Australian street artist Rone. A talented painter, Rone’s modus operandi is his slightly stylized and closely cropped female faces in mammoth proportions that can be found on urban facades around the world. He juxtaposes sharp graphic features with effortless washes of paint to produce images that are both etherial and striking. His first UK solo show Wallflowers is currently on view at StolenSpace.

Rone’s muses are cinematic; their eyes are deeply expressive, their scale is commanding and their beauty is undeniable. On the street, each femme fatale has an agency of sorts amongst the buzzing street culture that surrounds her. Moreover, the friction between beauty and decay, which is paramount for the artist, is readily apparent as the images bind to their textured architecture and their pristine beauty is subject to the natural elements.

However, for Wallflowers, the artist has chosen to work on a decidedly smaller scale. Producing his muse Tereasa Oman’s face on paper and wood from reclaimed shipping crates, the artist uses stencil, brushes, spray paint, and collage in an attempt to reproduce the finish of rough, urban exteriors.

Over a dozen paintings occupy the back room of StolenSpace, given a corresponding flower title: Blossom, Bells, Lilly, Poison Ivy, Rose Thorn. The name game of anthropomorphized flowers corresponding to female characteristics is cute at best, and slightly sexist at worst. When brought inside, the original oomph of Rone’s muses have been compromised. Their modest size, serial presentation and pseudo-patina read like a flat-lined recreation of the work that made him famous. On the street Rone is able to create an actress, whilst Wallflowers simply reads as models—they are, unfortunately, silent, decorative, and a bit boring.

—Devon Caranicas

 

(All images: Rone; Courtesy of the artist and StolenSpace Gallery)

 

 

 



Posted by Devon Caranicas on 4/13 | tags: Street Critique

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Super Creative Recycling: Bordalo II
by ArtSlant STREET


An enormous bumble-bee outside an abandoned building, a giant parrot perched on an old tire under an overpass, two fish swimming on the side of an industrial dock. These are some of the wonderful imaginations of Lisbon-based street artist Bordalo II who creates large-scale nature scenes from the byproducts of the consumerist culture he critiques: garbage. Working both on and off the streets, Bordalo II’s creations appropriate trash back into a kind of unnatural circle of life, where trash becomes what it destroyed. Here’s to recycling, Bordalo II’s wildlife, and a more optimistic future for the real thing.

Find Bordalo II on Facebook and Instagram.

He writes about himself:

I was born to the most consumerist and materialistic generation ever. They educate us to do it in an extreme way. Then, with this excessive production, particularly of technological stuff, the production of "garbage" and unimproved objects increases too. And I put "garbage" in quotations because it’s a very abstract definition. One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. This entire scene has reflexes, and of course the garbage is a product of almost everything that happens in this world. With all the non-sense and the situations I see every day, I feel truly free to explore this theme, starting in some nostalgic thing, a few crimes or maybe a social critic. After all, the garbage is a result of these scenes as well.

More about Bordalo II:

Born in Lisbon in 1987, Artur Bordalo aka Bordalo II grew up watching his grandfather, Real Bordalo, painting the city of Lisbon. Bordalo II presents us a figurative painting full of vivacity and movement, where he paints his own interpretation of urban landscapes and city entertainment. He’s exploring his own mixed media on wood stand base, and has made a series of collages of objects (garbage). It is not only a way to recycle, but also a critique of the world we live in, where we often have nice things, which are based on junk without realizing it.

 

Submit your work for a spotlight feature!



Posted by ArtSlant STREET on 4/7 | tags: spotlights

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Group Show
Sismanoglio Megaro of the Consulate General of Greece
Istiklal Caddesi No 60, Galatasaray-Beyoglu, 34433 Istanbul, Turkey
April 10, 2014 - May 4, 2014


Tio Ilar 7 Istanbul: International street art group show in the Greek Consulate
by Maja Milic


Thursday 10th April in Istanbul's most vibrant district, Beyoglu, and the always crowded Istiklal street saw the successful opening of the international contemporary and street art exhibition, Tio Ilar. This is the 7th edition of the annual showcase that was initially held in Athens, and their 2nd time touring to Istanbul, hosting artists predominantly from Greece and Turkey.

Although the majority of the artists are actively involved in their respective homeland's street art scenes, here this is not necessarily highlighted; the point is contemporary artistic expression in general, no matter what form. Curator Panos Malamis explains the idea behind Tio Ilar: “Once a seed is in harmony with the earth, it will blossom. And I try to provide the earth for seeds to blossom where seeds blossom.”

Dimitris Dokos, The friend is on vacation, 90 x 85cm, Acrylic on canvas, 2014; Courtesy of Sismanoglio Megaro of the Consulate General of Greece

 

In the ancient Attica dialect Tio Ilar means providing roof, protection and shelter. In the context of this exhibition it means a variety of artists under one roof where they can test their ideas in complete artistic freedom. The younger ones get their chance to exhibit along some well-known colleagues, while the already established ones prove their motivation doesn't lie only in professional ambition. Together these 15 artists create an environment of various styles all at different stages in their work. (They are: Hugo Fontela from Spain; Beyza Boynudelik, Hakan Bayer, Leyla Ersin, Pet 05, Zone from Turkey; Pietro Ruffo from Italy; Alexis Avlamis, Olga Alexopoulou, Alekos Skoutariotis, Dimitris Dokos, Kalliopi Kouklinou, Pandelis Pandelopoulos, Localize it! from Greece, and Thiemo Kloss from Germany.)

Their artworks range in media: from simple acrylic on canvas (Dimitris Dokos, Skoutariotis Alekos); or pens/pencils on paper (Alexis Avlamis); to porcelain painting digitised into diasec (Alexopoulou Olga); photopaper on aluminium (Thiemo Kloss); use of metal plates with plexiglass (Leyla Ersin); or cutouts on paper (Pietro Ruffo). When you enter, the most noticeable are the surreal patternized scarabs of Dimitris Dokos, which are seen all over Athens too. While some artworks tends to grab your attention with their size, another might surprise you with a detail. For me it was the "levitating" cutouts of Pietro Ruffo and the sweet installation of just 4 little pieces in various techniques by Localize it!

There is no financial profit behind this exhibition. Any sales go to social responsibility-related causes. The entry is of course free too, and visitors can drop by until 4th May.

Kalliopi Kouklinou, Untitled, mixed technique, 29 x 21, 2014; Courtesy of Sismanoglio Megaro of the Consulate General of Greece

 

The seventh edition of Tio Ilar will be in Greece in September.

For further information about previous editions, check out www.tioilar.eu.

 

—Maja Milic

 

(Image on top: Courtesy of Sismanoglio Megaro of the Consulate General of Greece)

 

 

 



Posted by Maja Milic on 4/13 | tags: Street Critique

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The Mural That Made The Mafia Smile: A new public artwork in Hong Kong stirs controversy
by Charlotte Jansen


 

In Hong Kong’s Pokfulam Village, a new mural has sparked a heated debate, provoking villagers to start a campaign to keep the large-scale painting.

Pokfulam was once a peaceful, green village, bordered by mountains and sea – until the government built a 10 meter highway bridge (Chi Fu Road) along the village’s southern boundary, creating a wall that would not only block off views of its surroundings but cause heavy flooding as water collected at the bottom of the mountain slope. The villagers would avoid the damp, grey and windy area.

Two weeks ago two local artists, Roes and Pakal, decided to paint the Chi Fu wall with a mural depicting the symbolic fire dragon (a figure of immense cultural and religious importance) and 12 Zodiac signs. As the artists worked over three days, the villagers began to return to the abandoned site, bringing warm meals and tea whilst they discussed the progress of the work – each contributing their own idea of how the dragon should be portrayed. In this way, a unique alliance formed between the locals and the artists (both currently based in Europe). The artists relinquished control of the art, and while they continued to paint, the design took on a new significance and became a kind of collaborative public work, in keeping with the traditions of the place and its residents.

However, there was another twist in the tale: on completion, the government received a complaint about the mural, and after investigating, announced that the dragon would be buffed. Infuriated by the news (reportedly the mural had even managed to make the local mafia smile) the villagers started up a petition, picketing the government’s decision.

The recent removal – just a week before the Pokfulam mural – of a large-scale work by French artist Space Invader, in Hong Kong for an exhibition, had already ignited hot contention inflaming people across the island against the government. In some way, when the Pokfulam mural was threatened, it became an emblem, diagnostic of the continuing need to struggle for cultural freedom from Chinese influence. With more than 6000 signatures at the time of writing, the mural debate continues. A charity working on preservation in the area spoke in favour of the painting: “this dark cold dirty bridge that used to clutter with garbage now seems a whole lot brighter. Hopefully the Holy Dragon can guard the artwork from being destroyed by rigid thinking of the Hong Kong government.”

Hong Kong is not the only country to experience clashes over freedom of expression. In Racale, Puglia, last week the Italian artist Ozmo caused a municipal row over a mural depicting Saint Sebastian in D&G underwear. Apparently it was not a celebrated mix of Italy’s two most powerful institutions.

 

—Charlotte Jansen

 

(Image on top:Roes and Pakal, Fire Dragon.)



Posted by Charlotte Jansen on 3/22 | tags: news

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Group Exhibition
MU | Witte Dame
Emmasingel 20 , 5611 AZ Eindhoven, Netherlands
November 13, 2013 - January 26, 2014


F.A.T. Lab, F.A.T. GOLD Europe: Five Years of Free Art & Technology
by Andrea Alessi


I crouched down, picked up a marker, and tried to remember the illegible scribble that used to be my “tag”: a gesture of sharp points and steady curves punctuated by a strategic line slashed through the whole inscription. In high school I would trace it onto book covers and notepads and think I was cool. It came to me eventually, the first delivery unsteady as I carefully considered which shapes fit where; in a second, more successful attempt, I let my arm do the work, confidently forging my mark in muscle memory.

 

 

Yours truly, tagging the graffiti wall, F.A.T. GOLD Europe; Photo: Ben Harvey.


I was in Eindhoven attending the Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab’s exhibition F.A.T. GOLD Europe at MU, which ended in January. The show, which also took place in April last year at Eyebeam in New York, was a sort of five-year anniversary round up of the Internet collective’s practice. (F.A.T. Lab has now entered its seventh year, but the originally scheduled retrospective was put on hiatus in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.) But back to the incident at hand. Why, at an exhibition dedicated to a network ostensibly operating online, was I contributing my meager tag to a sanctioned graffiti wall?

 
F.A.T. GOLD Europe, installation view, MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi.

 

The connection isn’t so far fetched. Some of F.A.T. Lab’s twenty-five members—an international network of artists, engineers, scientists, lawyers, and musicians—are themselves graffiti artists. Their core values, which include “spreading open source and free ideals into popular culture” through DIY entrepreneurship, open source, and activism, have more than a few intersections with street art. On the one hand, art on the Internet can be viewed through a street lens: it can bypass normal distribution channels, appealing directly to viewers. Turning the comparison on its head, street art can be seen as a form of “hack”—an unendorsed appropriation of space, medium, or idea.

Evan Roth, Ideas Worth Spreading (TED Talks), at MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

In his recent book, Viral Art, Vandalog blogger RJ Rushmore looks at how the future of street art, with its focus on “unmediated distribution,” might find a natural home in the digital domain. He uses the term “Viral Art” to describe both shareable and invasive online practices that have an affinity, if not a direct evolutionary line, to street art (n.b. “Viral” here implies a level of approachability that excludes some older forms of Internet Art. The pioneering duo JODI, for example, have a great exhibition at Showroom MAMA in Rotterdam right now that isn’t particularly accessible or viral). F.A.T. Lab’s projects don’t always fall within the categories Rushmore outlines either—viewers may seek out content rather than encounter it serendipitously—yet they do open onto notions of self-dissemination, egalitarianism, activism, and anonymity. In fact, there are examples at MU of some of the very works discussed in Rushmore’s text—namely, Ideas Worth Spreading, a mock-up TED Talk stage where visitors can record images of their own “talk” to share online, and 40,000 GML Tags, a massive screen showcasing graffiti gestures in GML, or Graffiti Markup Language, “a file format designed to be a universal structure for storing digitized graffiti motion data.”

Geraldine Juarez, Kopyfamo', watermark on mirror, at MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

Some F.A.T. Lab projects exist in the real world, others are strictly manifest online, and many straddle the two—that is, projects shaped in the real world and shared online. The MU exhibition, curated by Lindsay Howard, highlighted them all, offering documentation, online viewing stations, and even physical objects and artworks. Where F.A.T. GOLD differed from the typical exhibition was that most works were not autonomous objects, but rather reproducible examples of a wider practice. Motivated viewers could (and can) recreate many of these works on the web or at home*, and the materials for some projects, like an Obama PRISM mask, were even available at the exhibition.

F.A.T. GOLD Europe, installation view with Free Universal Construction Kit, MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

Good fun is always on the menu: in F.A.T. GOLD there was a sub-genre of works touting the douchiness of Google Glass and its adopters, and a presentation of Greg Leuch’s viral Add-on Shaved Bieber, which censors all mentions of Justin Bieber online (earning Leuch more than a little hate mail from teenage fans). But some of the best and most shareable projects are greater than their capacity for the lulz. The Free Universal Construction Kit is a set of adapters that makes ten brands of children’s construction sets, like Lego and K’Nex, interoperable. It’s eminently cool/novel/clever, but it also visualizes the ways in which childhood playthings ostensibly meant to spark creativity are limited by proprietary measures. The F.U.C.K. undermines these protective implements, removing barriers to cross-trademark creativity. The exhibition featured a complete set of adapters, a construction/play station, and a 3D printer that staff members kindly set to printing new pieces whenever visitors turned up. (3D models of the adapters in .STL format are available online for free download.)

Tobias Leingruber, Facebook Identity Card, video presentation of ARTE Creative, Social ID Bureau, 2012, portrait of Mark Zuckerberg, at MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

F.A.T. Lab’s perspective seems carefully poised between an irreverent techno-optimism (“look at these cool things we can do!”) and deep skepticism at the ways in which technologies can be regulated, marketed, and used for power and control. Given these positions, in which use of certain technologies seems self-evident, it’s easy to forget that not everyone has access to the distributional paradigm shift that is the digital domain. Rushmore’s account also overstates viral art’s present accessibility: an encounter with this type of work is more likely to be spread within specific enclaves of Internet activity, with limiting factors being not geography, but usage. The case for “unmediated” distribution is further undermined by the cryptic algorithms used by Facebook and Google for post placement and search results—the very systems F.A.T. Lab exploits when images of their fake TED Talks turn up in search results. In a destabilizing twist, F.A.T. Lab often coopts the very technologies and systems it protests (or defends).

Tobias Leingruber, Skatekeyboard, keyboard attached to skateboard deck, at MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

In a way, that’s why it was such a treat to see some of F.A.T. Lab’s works in physical form, Away From Keyboard as it were. F.A.T. GOLD did a great job of making works and ideas accessible to people who might not be tech-savvy or know what terms like “net neutrality” and “Open Web” mean. Or those who aren’t necessarily ready to accept or understand this sort of practice as “art.” The exhibition was forward looking, but also rooted in the past and present—a thought-provoking bridge between time, technologies, and disciplines. Be it in a subway tunnel or on a homepage, a mark on the wall is a sign of presence; it can be a declaration of ego, of resistance. Or like my clumsy signature, it can be an affirmation, a “Like” or an “upvote”: I was here, with so many others, and I want to be counted.

Becky SternKnitted Compubody Interface (knit one yourself!), at MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; © Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

*The MU exhibition ended on January 26th, but interested readers can see the projects online or in the new F.A.T. Manual (available for purchase or free download), released on the occasion of the exhibition and the collective’s five-year anniversary.

 

—Andrea Alessi

 F.A.T. GOLD Europe, installation view, MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi
 
Image on top: F.A.T. GOLD Europe, installation view, MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi.]

 

 

 



Posted by Andrea Alessi on 3/2 | tags: Street Critique

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Patron as Network: Will St Leger's Experiment in Crowdfunding
by Max Nesterak


Over the past 5 years, online crowdfunding has assumed a kind of mythical aura. It is, at least in my experience, talked about as if it were a bottomless well of wealth, a sure-fire source of capital for everything and anything from a hovercraft to a public art installation. Need money? Crowdfund it. There are thousands of generous strangers, eagerly waiting with credit cards poised.

While the majority of projects do fail, the numbers are astounding. Now a well-worn (granted a bit misleading) factoid, I was amazed to learn that in 2013 Kickstarter distributed more money to artists than the National Endowment for the Arts.

Some 3 million people from 204 countries contributed some $480 million. Through their micro (and sometimes macro) donations, crowdfunders have supported such incredible projects as a photo exhibition on the Berlin Wall, the translation of Moby Dick into Emoji, and many of Molly Crabapple's projects were funded from successful Kickstarter campaigns, including her Shell Game. There are now more and more opportunities for finding crowdsourced funds or microloans, including arts-specific platforms, like Hatchfund.

For the art market, it seems to have created an interesting wrinkle in its deeply engrained top-down economy whereby a small group of wealthy donors or government institutions dole out funds to a slightly larger group of artists. Many of you, like myself, may have hailed crowdfunding as the coming of a new, more exciting era for the arts. It would create new opportunities for countless undiscovered creators. The barriers to making art and supporting art could practically vanish. Brilliant ideas that might otherwise have remained sketches on the back of napkins could now be realized. Save for elitist concerns about a rising tide of populist art, it’s hard to be cynical about the opportunity for more people to directly support more artists. The modern patron would not be a person or an institution, but a network.

It would follow then that this new patronage should, in my mind at least, aspire to a new telos as well. That is, the people who collectively supported the creation of art would also collectively share the art. Not so. Crowdfunding is, many times, disappointing in this sort of utopian vision. With contribution hierarchies, the hundreds who contributed 10 bucks get a postcard while the one who contributed $5,000 gets the painting. It seems fair and supporting artists is most important, yet I can’t help feeling suspicious that my comrades and I at the $10 level are somehow subsidizing the wealthiest donor’s latest acquisition. Certainly one could compare it to most other forms of investing, whereby those with the most shares stand to reap the greatest rewards (and suffer the greatest losses), but that seems to me contrary to the spirit crowdfunding. At least with something like NPR, the only real difference is between a sticker and a tote bag because we all get to listen to the radio, right?

It’s perhaps not fair to judge the system so harshly. For many artists, especially those putting forth political or ideological commentaries, making money becomes unfairly controversial. Critiquing greed, gluttony, and all other manner of human wickedness doesn’t pay the rent. But the question remains, what obligation does an artist have to her or his patrons? Can an artist, in good conscience, accept the support of many while ultimately selling out to the deep-pocketed few?

If we celebrate a new system of means, can we justify reaching the same ends? Can crowdfunding also be an opportunity to change a system that makes art a form of capital and patronage a speculator's sport? It seems to me, crowdfunding offers a unique opportunity for more artists to work beyond the system based on materiality, possession, and appreciation. Certainly then artists would have the freedom to reach more people.

Irish street artist and, more recently, musician Will St Leger has never been interested much in how much his work is worth. He also hasn’t tried to make a lot of money. Known for his sharp political and cultural critiques on the streets of Dublin, his past works include such cheeky and poignant interventions as serving the Irish parliament an eviction notice following the financial collapse, holding an exhibition where viewers were asked to steal the art, and planting fake landmines around parks in Dublin to bring attention to current and former war zones around the world.

But he has made money. St Leger used crowdfunding to not only turn a humble profit, but also initiate critical discussions about art while also subverting “recuperation” by the capitalist art economy he often critiques. (Side note: If you’re thinking about collecting any of his pieces, just click here. They’re all free). 

I spoke with St Leger to follow up on a project he did a little over a year ago called Cause and Effect. More social experiment than exhibition, St Leger wanted to see how, or even if, people could collectively own a piece of art. For 20 euros, 100 crowdfunders were promised an original piece of art and a print. The catch: the 100 pieces were part of four larger works. They would have to decide whether they would keep the artworks together or split them up. The decision had to be unanimous, meaning if one person decided  he wanted his piece, it would have to be split up.

As far as St Leger was concerned, the show wasn’t a test with a right or wrong answer; it was an experiment.

“I felt that any opinion I had on whether it was broken up or not would persuade people,” St Leger said. “You know the way people sometimes invest vicariously in the artist, and I didn’t want that. I wanted them to make their own decisions and I wanted them to leave me out of it.

There also wasn’t a contribution hierarchy, and St Leger didn’t allow one person to buy out the rest. This, both to keep things simple and interesting. 

“The entry level was the same for everybody, and I didn’t want anything to be bought out. Very often you go to a show and somebody with a large wallet is the person who can own the nicest stuff, and I’m not really a big fan of that,” St Leger said. “It’s boring.”

When the participants entered, St Leger split them up into four groups of 25, and while they knew which work they were assigned to, they didn’t know which particular piece was theirs. St Leger watched as the four groups created what he said was a kind of court system. They discussed possession and ownership, the merits of splitting it up and keeping it together, and then they would vote. When they couldn’t agree, they would resume discussions.

The first three groups decided to split up the artwork. In one group, the entire group except for one person wanted to keep it together, so it had to be split up. Unfortunately for that person, their piece was a corner, with very little stencil work on it.

“The look of disappointment on their face was unbelievable. They were so gutted that that was their piece, but that was the way it was,” St Leger said.  

When it came to the fourth group, St Leger said he noticed they had this look of glee on their faces.

“They were very excited about something, and then they announced that they were keeping it together and everyone in the room was shocked,” St Leger said. “It was amazing, and it was amazing to everyone else as well because some people were disappointed the pieces were broken up and some people were kind of glad because they had their piece.”

Splitting up the work also doesn’t need to be seen as a failure on the part of the three groups who decided to do so. As St Leger pointed out, when other people see each of the pieces by themselves, abstract shapes detached from a greater whole, they will start conversations.

“They will tell them about the show, and they will tell them about the discussion, so you have a multiplier affect,” St Leger said. “It’s their participation in the discussion about the work that’s more important to me in the end.”

St Leger’s show may not be a template for other artists. It was an experiment, not a model, and indeed, St Leger says he would never criticize an artist’s decision on how to sell his or her work. Still, it is possible (and in my opinion, incredibly important) in the age of the so-called share economy, to develop and play with new forms of production and patronage. Artists are certainly some of the best at finding creative ways to challenge tradition, and now they have the support of millions of patrons. The question is: if we have networks, do we still need hierarchies?

—Max Nesterak

 

(All images: Will St Leger, Courtesy of the artist.)



Posted by Max Nesterak on 3/26 | tags: Essays Street Critique collector's catalogue

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Offbeat Illustrator: Pierre-Paul Pariseau
by ArtSlant STREET


We’re loving these colorful, offbeat illustrations from French Canadian artist Pierre-Paul Pariseau. With elements of pop art, surrealism, and a bit of comic book style, his pieces are simply cool, and we wish there was a storybook to go along with them. Pariseau exhibits his work often in North America and Europe, and has had his work featured in a number of books showcasing the best in contemporary illustration.  

 Pierre-Paul Pariseau, Accordeon; Courtesy of the artist 

 

More on Pariseau:

Pierre-Paul Pariseau is an award-winning artist and illustrator working for clients in North America and Europe since many years. He also exhibits his work regularly. 

Evoking currents of surrealism and pop art, the creative work of Pariseau invites us into a world of images where everything is possible. Happy coincidences, anecdotal events inspire the artist in a fantasy that translates into images made of vibrant colours, stunning juxtapositions and hypnotic reveries. His anthropomorphic creations seem to request storytelling but never impose one. The intensity of his work confuses and attracts in a way that does not dictate to the viewer, but stimulates the imagination to explore unrestrained. 

An invitation to discover enigmatic mixed media images that captivate and intrigue.

Find more about Pierre-Paul Pariseau.

Pierre-Paul Pariseau, Tiger; Courtesy of the artist

Pierre-Paul Pariseau, Neverending; Courtesy of the artist

Pierre-Paul Pariseau, Cinema; Courtesy of the artist

 

Submit your work for a spotlight feature!

 

(Image on top: Pierre-Paul Pariseau, Black; Courtesy of the artist)



Posted by ArtSlant STREET on 3/17 | tags: spotlights

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STRA Gets Around
by ArtSlant STREET


French Street Artist STRA gets around. From Portugal to England to France, there’s probably a STRA piece near you (or coming soon). Using paste-ups and paint, STRA’s work critiques politicians, consumerism, and capitalism. He created a particularly poignant series following the Euro crisis.

Right now STRA is in Australia, painting up down under. He describes himself as just a guy using the street to pass messages (Like a postman, he says.) We’re following his trail of tags on Facebook and Instagram.

STRA , "Believe in Street Art !", London,  2013; Courtesy of the artist

STRA in Australia; Courtesy of the artist

STRA , Ohohoh it's the crisis !,  Faro (Portugal), December 2013; Courtesy of the artist

STRA; Courtesy of the artist

STRA, Crime Stoppers, Australia 2014,  Spray paint on wood; Courtesy of the artist

STRA, Made in China,  2013,  London;  Courtesy of the artist

STRA, Trust Yourself, 2013,  Faro, Portugal;  Courtesy of the artist

STRA, I love the night !, Bordeaux, 2014; Courtesy of the artist

STRA, My War Tools, May 2013; Courtesy of the artist

STRA; Courtesy of the artist

STRA, Brainwashing, December 2013, Bordeaux; Courtesy of the artist

 

Submit your work for a spotlight feature!

 

(Image on top: STRA, Hope, Bordeaux, 2013; Courtesy of the artist)



Posted by ArtSlant STREET on 4/1 | tags: spotlights

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