For his second show at A.L.I.C.E Gallery, Steve Powers presents his latest enamel paintings on aluminium, alongside the latest series of daily paintings, entitled « Metaltations », which are based on sketches he drew in the subway on the way to his studio.
"I’m in awe of the power and the reach of music. To compete with the majesty of music, I make paintings that are visual blues. I distill my everyday experience into paintings I call Daily Metaltations. They are painted very fast, fresh from the epiphanies that inspired them. The larger paintings draw from those metaltations and go to a deeper understanding of the transactions we make everyday to live our lives." Stephen Powers
Stephen J. Powers, born in Philadelphia in 1968, is a New York-based artist. He made a name first as a graffiti artist in New York during the 1990s, under the name ESPO (Exterior Surface Painting Outreach). In the early 2000s he began working in his studio and exhibited at Deitch Projects, until the closure of the gallery in 2010. During the last eight years he has mainly been creating public works.
His work has been shown at the Venice and Liverpool Biennials in 2001 and 2002, respectively, and in 2008 Powers painted a love story in the streets of Dublin and Belfast. In August 2008, teaming up with Creative Time, he opened The Waterboard Thrill Ride, an animatronic depiction of waterboarding in Coney Island.
In 2010 Powers worked on a large-scale mural project in Philadelphia, entitled « A Love Letter For You » in partnership with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. This work involved painting 50 murals in West Philadelphia and it attracted positive reviews from The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Powers told the New York Times that he was « taking the form of the murals, which are powerful for all the wrong reasons, and trying to retain some of the power and use it in a really good way ». In the same year, Powers first solo museum exhibition was at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
In an interview with Zoe Larkins for Art in America magazine in 2012, Steve Powers discusses the difference between his murals on the street, and those exhibited in the gallery: « It's all the same. It's just indoor voice and outdoor voice. »
Powers continues: « In the street I boil it down to the quickest, fastest, boldest, brightest sentiments. And inside I can be a lot more complex. I get to whisper, I get to talk a little more. [It's] a lot more conversational, a lot less yelling and singing. » He also comments on the difference of showing in a gallery: « people are making a special trip to go there," he says. "They're ready and willing to accept the signal. »