Nanook gets lost in the sunset

March 28th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

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Last month Nanook ventured to Central America to paint for Mamutt in Mexico City. “Perdido en la Puesta del Sol,” or “Lost in the Sunset” draws upon the local history as well as the site. The former flour production factory Nanook painted this mural on is located in the very industry driven neighborhood of Camarones. Nanook speaks of the enmeshing of narratives, stating:

“About 15-20 years ago many of the factories closed and moved either outside of the city or out of the country. The neighborhood subsequently fell into decline. The parrot wing is representative of two things 1. The nickname for cocaine is parrot, while the neighborhood was losing industry many people began using and selling drugs. 2. The wing is also representative of the Quetzalcoatl, which had many meanings, but one of which was fertility and growth. It is attached to the corn and the woman squinting into the sun as a representation of growing past the loss of industry and ultimately the rebirth of the industry.”

While exploring the representation of local history, the artist continues his experimentation with portraiture and landscape. The juxtaposition is reminiscent of a mural he created last year for Living Walls Atlanta, which set two figures against a pastoral scene. As Nanook continues his nomadic lifestyle, the artist grows from the local experiences, leading viewers to imagine what the next amalgamation will be.

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Photos courtesy of Nanook


Category: Photos | Tags:

A punk’s fantasy: Droid907 directs for Japanther

March 26th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

Droid has been described eloquently as, “giving punk meaning again.” In the ultimate dream partnership, in my humble opinion, Droid 907 directed, edited, and wrote the video for Japanther‘s new single “Do It (Don’t Try).” The video follows as he writes out the song’s lyrics in his signature style. He then surreptitiously places the stickers around Bushwick while the band belts out “Do Do Do Do Why Fight It?” The juxtaposition of lyrics with illegal art underscore the song’s do or die attitude, one that Droid faithfully lives by.

It is also important to note that the video ends with a shot of a “Droid = Afrika” sticker. This piece pays homage to one of the crew’s deceased friends, writer Afrika.


Category: Videos | Tags: , ,

Tim Hans shoots… Vexta

February 17th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

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We’ve interviewed Vexta, now a New Yorker by way of Australia, twice before, so why not a third time? Last summer, she invited Tim Hans and I to rooftop in Brooklyn to meet up as part of his continuing series of photo-portraits of artists. What we found there was not just Vexta, but a semi-secret gathering of street artists taking over this random rooftop and just having a fun time together. Thanks to Vexta, Tim ended up photographing a bunch of artists whose photos we have been posting over the last few months. Rhiannon Platt recently included Vexta on a list of “15 Women Who Are Killing It in Street Art Right Now,” so of course Rhiannon was the perfect person to interview Vexta for this post. – RJ

Rhiannon Platt: Tell us a little about yourself.

Vexta: I’m from Sydney, Australia… though I came up in the street art scene in Melbourne where I live for a long time. I moved to Brooklyn about a year and half ago… since then though I’ve been traveling a lot painting walls, making art for music festivals and other exhibitions, commissions and projects in India, Mexico, Australia and across Europe. My artwork is pretty psychedelic and I guess I’m most interested in ideologies surrounding ultimate freedom and the interconnectedness of all matter and how that can relate to us in a real world way.

Rhiannon: Why did you choose this image in particular?

Vexta: It was a while back when I painted this… it wasn’t too long after Pussy Riot had been put in jail in Russia and in general there just felt like this global oppression of human rights and women’s rights… I start thinking about protesting and the connection to graffiti culture and started painting a series of people in bandanas and ski masks… the bandana part of that painting is made up of these diamond stencil shapes. I’ve been using these in my work for a while and they signify transformation and the atomic particles that make up all matter… so they create another layer of meaning too… like a physical representation of communication and the need for it. I like to leave a certain ambiguity in my work though so there’s space for people to bring their own meanings.

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Rhiannon: You paint abandoned or repurposed spaces a lot. How was painting this space in Brooklyn different?

Vexta: I haven’t painted that many rooftops because in Australia we don’t have that many locations like that… It kinda felt like painting an empty warehouse only in the sunshine with a view of Brooklyn.

Rhiannon: What was particularly important about painting on this roof?

Vexta: So it was a rooftop accessed by my friends Icy & Sot’s place. We had been talking for a while about getting a group of us together and painting it. So one day we had a bbq up there, spent the day hanging out and painting. I think there was maybe 8 or 10 of us up there painting that day. It’s those moments when street artists come together as a community and inspire each other and make new connections. That part of our world is important – Making art for ourselves and each other, making an empty space beautiful together.

Rhiannon: What did you take away from this experience?

Vexta: Some new friends & happy memories and I left behind a small piece of beauty with some ideas and feelings imbedded in it…

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Photos by Tim Hans


Category: Interview, Portraits by Tim Hans | Tags: ,

Ladies Run Basel with Women on the Walls

December 11th, 2013 | By | No Comments »
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This year Wywood Walls turned five and to mark the special occasion curator Jeffrey Deitch called on on the finest ladies in the field for Women on the Walls. International artists AikoMiss VanFafiMaya HayukLady PinkFaith47LakwenaKashinkSheryoOlekTooflyClaw MoneyJessie & Katey, Myla, and Shamsia Hassani all created murals or showed in the adjacent exhibition space. The participating artists have come from cities such as Cape Town, Paris, New York, and London. Part gallery part mural exhibition, the project acts as a history guide to the great presence of women muralists.

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Women on the Walls is a dream come true and also a proverbial screw you to people who say that the reason women artists are often overshadowed in the media is due to a dearth in street art. That, to be blunt, is bullshit. Older artists and the younger generation they inspired came together in the Wynwood district of Miami this Art Basel to prove their stronghold in the public art community. The scope of media alone proves their mastery of the craft as spray paint, yarn, text, stencils, and free handed characters all co-mingle to form a variety that has something to please most tastes.

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Not only is the perfect storm of artists curated in this year’s Wynwood Walls enough to be in awe of, additionally Martha Cooper has shared some breathtaking progress photos. As artfully as the walls are decorated, each image thoughtfully reveals the personas behind the iconography. Each picture displays the strength of these women, whether unveiling the sheer amount of effort behind a production to those who stand boldly in front of completed pieces. Cooper shows that these women are heroes, or warriors as Toofly depicts, taking on whatever challenges lay in their wake and simply killing it.

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All photos by Martha Cooper


Category: Art Fairs, Photos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tim Hans Shoots… Jordan Seiler

November 18th, 2013 | By | No Comments »

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Note from RJ: It’s been a little while since we posted any of Tim Hans‘ photos, but his series of artist portraits is still ongoing. Today we have our latest photo from Tim, one he took of Jordan Seiler at the site of one of Jordan’s ad takeovers. Rhiannon Platt asked Jordan a few questions. – RJ

Under the moniker of PublicAdCampaign, artist and activist Jordan Seiler aims to help the public regain control of their visual atmosphere. His latest project, Public Access, aims to give artists the power to change their visual landscape. The artist has reproduced keys for bus shelters and phone booths for several countries, beginning first in New York and recently expanding to Brussels for an exhibition with Harlan B. Levy Projects. Today is also the launch of the app Re+Public, an augmented reality app for iPhone and Android created by Jordan and The Heavy Projects.

Rhiannon Platt: When did you first start combating commercialism with takeovers?

Jordan Seiler: I began ad takeovers in December of 2000 with an entire station takeover at the 18th street 1/9 stop. It took about 32 posters to cover both platforms. At that point, and somewhat still to this day, it isn’t about combating commercialism but rather deciding for ourselves what our collective visual landscape looks like.

Rhiannon: What made you want to start Public Ad Campaign? Was there a specific instance that you can point to?

Jordan: My first takeover was motivated purely by aesthetics. I thought the station would feel quite different with a new set of images. It was only once that feeling manifested, and I began to worry about being caught by the cops, that I began to see the differences between commercial and public media production.

Rhiannon: How does your passion for ad-busting manifest itself in your other work?

Jordan: I know this sounds trite but I prefer the word ad-takeover to ad-bust. An ad-bust suggests a play on meaning, a decrypting of the encoded media message to reveal its weaknesses or faults. My feeling is that we are already very good at reading between the lines and seeing most commercial messages for what they are. Despite this critical insight we sill cannot seem to resist their allure. Ad-takeovers on the other hand obliterate the initial media message and in doing so demand the space be used for other conversations. I think this is a very important distinction because if we are going to wrestle with the impact of media messages on our society, we need a critical distance from which to start. Ad takeovers demand an ad free public space and by extension ask the question of what we might fill that space with. I think with most of my other projects that aren’t directly ad-takeovers, I try to ask the question of how we might collectively take up the responsibility of public media production by encouraging other people’s participation, and exploring new tools for public media production.

Rhiannon: Are you currently working on any projects?

Jordan: I am currently working on a project called Public Access where I make tools that can be used to open advertising locations around the world so that people can engage their public media space directly. This is an ongoing project and I hope to continue to add more tools and more accessible cities in the coming years. I am also about to launch the Re+Public AR mobile app with my partner from The Heavy Projects. Our newest collaboration with MOMO was a wonderful experience and we are excited to finally make the app widely available through iOS and Android platforms.

Photo by Tim Hans


Category: Interview, Portraits by Tim Hans | Tags: , ,

Tim Hans shoots… Remi/Rough

September 4th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »

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Remi has been a friend and an artist I’ve followed closely for many years, one of the artists putting some fresh energy graffiti with his abstract style, so I was glad that Tim Hans could meet up with Remi Rough at his studio in South London earlier this year and that Rhiannon Platt could interview Remi for our continuing series of portraits by Tim Hans. – RJ

Rhiannon Platt: For those who may not be familiar with your work, when did you start using spray paint?

Remi Rough: I did my first piece in 1984. Paint was different then, as were the styles, techniques and obviously the fan base, which hardly existed at all except in the younger generation.

Most of the artists, paint brands and the pieces themselves don’t even exist anymore.

It’s quite funny to think of something I was part of as a kid being considered historical now!

Rhiannon: And how has your work evolved since then?

Remi: It became a lot simpler. In the late 90′s and early 00′s I stripped back a lot of the chintz in my graffiti pieces and lettering. Colour, background and periphery became unimportant to me. I guess things continued to simplify and become more minimal from there. Now the colour has regained a key importance in my work and the line and shape is just a conveyance for that. As long as I can create a similar tension in my paintings to the graffiti pieces of my youth, then I’m doing something right I think.

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Rhiannon: What does abstraction mean to you?

Remi: Abstraction is all about questioning what you see. Graffiti was and still is abstract right from the very beginning. The entire concept of Wildstyle is completely abstract. the fills, the outlines and the backgrounds. Taking basic type forms and abstracting them into a more stylised version of the original product is as about as abstract as it gets.

Abstraction is keeping your feet firmly planted in reality whilst your head is in the clouds of imagination.

Rhiannon: What keeps you going creatively?

Remi: Many things to be honest. Good coffee, amazing people (of which I think I’m lucky to be surrounded by a lot of the time), great art of any kind, good food, my family and most of all I guess I manage to find new challenges for myself on a constant basis.

Rhiannon: What projects are you working on right now?

Remi: I’m off to Detroit in November to work on a very large mural project, which I’m quite excited about as I’ve never been there before. I have also been working on a collaborative show with Shok1 and I have a couple of solo shows booked in for next year already. Lastly I have a new book available next month called #roughsketches it’s a huge book of sketch work dating back from 1996 until now. It marks my evolution into the style I work with now and has a good few hundred outlines in it. There’s only going to be 100 editions tho, plus 25 special editions! It’s my Seventh self published book and I personally think it’s my best one so far…

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Photos by Tim Hans


Category: Interview, Portraits by Tim Hans | Tags: ,

Hot Girls and Hot Dogs: Monologues From Jon Burgerman

June 14th, 2013 | By | No Comments »

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Upon entering the studio of illustrator Jon Burgerman, you are transported to a space entirely devoted to a world of extreme sights and sounds that connate the artist’s work. Contrasted by the days of rain surrounding New York, the shuffles of crowds and warm hues shone through the bleak emptiness outside. Holding cups of English Breakfast tea, coming from his native country, we spent a few drenched mornings discussing the observations that have led to this body of pieces, produced for Hot Girls and Hot Dogs, opening tonight at 17 Frost Street.

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From the warmth of the tea to the sound of the weather outside, the layered lines seen in his more complicated pieces are echoed in the sensorial experience that was visiting his space. As he opened up an oversized canvas in his studio, the end hitting the ground, and Jon a hapless face reminiscent of a befuddled cartoon character. He eventually gives up, retreating to a larger space to properly lay down the monochromatic painting before placing it back against the wall. While his pieces contain a frenetic, hectic energy, his studio remains dutifully organized, as various types of paint and mediums of art are placed in sperate bins.

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A series of onomatopoeias emerge from Jon as his internal monologue is enacted for props he produces from past shows. Cardboard cartoons, two-page illustrations, and Vine provide movement to how he invisions characters prior to putting pen to paper. As the pages flipped in the sketchbook, an illustration of a dog bites into a cupcake, Jon mimicking the exaggerated effect heard on Nickelodeon. The bustling imagery that populates the artist’s larger paintings is reproduced on a smaller scale through the immediacy of these works. A tertiary focus, these simple ten second animations represent the individual parts that make up his more complex compositions.

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The central focus of his exhibition, and this visit, was a new series of mixed-media pieces being produced for Hot Girls and Hot Dogs. Ranging from simple 8 1/2″ by 11″ studies to canvas spanning several feet, Jon draws viewers in with what he believes to be the two subjects most enticing, attractive women accompanied by man’s best friend. Being from England, and thus an outsider, the artist draws combinations of girls and dogs from a removed perspective. Termed his “pastoral pictorials,” each piece is an expression of how he interprets American culture during his time in New York. Having previously tackled the true New York experience, pizza, with an exhibition in New Jersey last year, the subject has since shifted to the city’s quintessential obsession with pooches.
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Illustrating a variety of real-world scenes, the artist shows owners who dutifully clean up after their pets, while others not so much. Alongside the swooping abstracted curves of hot women walking their hot dogs, the artist created a series of quick, messy portraits, which focus solely on women in movement. At first these illustrations convey a haphazard sense of color and movement of line; backgrounds are sketched in to suggest a bobbed haircut, sunset hues move through the arms of several figures, undefined by outlines. By giving defining some aspects of each figure with a watery fluidity and others with hard, contrasting colors, Jon draws viewers to these intimate pieces with through these small contradictions. One final layer is added to the portraits as Haring t-shirts, patterns, and miniature tattoos are dotted throughout. By forcing viewers to closely examine the details of these sketches, the artist gives viewers insight into the processes behind his more elaborate canvases.

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The individual animals, patterns, and women from his studies congest in these larger pieces in the same way that sidewalk traffic stops to a halt around New York’s tourist destinations. The viewer can almost feel the internal tension of being surrounded by crowds of unmoving people in the summer heat. Each of these more complex compositions was given ample room at the 17 Frost space to breathe and allow visitors to stand and examine the different kinds of hot subjects permeating the works. After spending some time attempting to see the individual parts of the paintings rather than the sum of the parts, I began to experience what I can only describe as the How and Nosm effect. When visiting the duo’s solo show in New York several months ago, RJ expressed his fatigue over trying to examine the pieces to the point of his brain shutting down. With the work of How and Nosm, the paired down color palette and crisp lines aid in the processing of imagery for some viewers, in contrast to Jon’s unlimited realm of colors and movement. I simply could not imagine viewers could disassemble and process these overlapping compositions, let alone what mind could create such complexities.

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By placing sketches alongside mixed media paintings that spanned several feet, viewers can comprehend the gradual that led to the ability to illustrate dozens of figures in scenes that span several feet. When asking Jon about these steps, he echoed the sentiments of spoken word poets saying, “these are a monologue. You just get up there and give it a shot.” In describing his body of work with this terminology, a theme was illuminated that transcended Hot Girls and Hot Dogs and transcended to describe Jon as a person. Throughout the two-day interview with the artist, I was transported into his realm of imagination. From the moment I stepped across the threshold of his building Krink markers began to make fart noises as the artist described the first layer of his paintings beginning with a simple line. Jalapeños with sombreros and cupcake eating dogs echoed the same strange sounds. In bringing his illustrations to life before my eyes, Jon was openly and honestly himself, a trait that is a rare occurrence in New York’s world of facades. His approach to art making, of giving it your best one shot, applied to my interactions with Jon as he crossed his eyes for pictures, added audio to his illustrations, and made me laugh.

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Hot Girls and Hot Dogs opens tonight at 17 Frost Street, Williamsburg, NY from 7pm-10pm.

The artist has crafted an area for your dogs adorned with banners made by Skewville for your VIP (very important pooches). Please be sure to come along and bring your pet dog because the artist will be drawing small portraits to remind you just how important your pooch is.

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Photos by Rhiannon Platt


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows, Studio Visits | Tags: , ,

Pipe Dreams: Coded Meanings and Cartoons

May 16th, 2013 | By | No Comments »

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Pipe Dreams marks not only Sheryo and the Yok’s first exhibition together in the United States, but also a departure from what viewers have come to expect from the duo. As of late, the artists have been defined by their use of a red, black, and white palette to portray unique vision of reality. However, don’t be concerned that these changes mean that the work is missing the cartoonish, pop imagery seen in past pieces. The pizza, drugs, and other wild things are still present, just reimagined.

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During their travels to through South East Asia, from Sheryo’s native Singapore to Vietnam, the artists began to infuse their work with the surrounding culture. Now, geishas and dragons have become central characters alongside smoking pizzas and skateboards. While visiting Vietnam, the artists took advantage of the opportunity to begin painting pottery, starting with vases and later expanding in the States to plates. Initially, the work appears a light air blue, mimicking the smoke emanating from elongated cigarette holders. After three coats, the plates begin to don the cobalt blue associated with Eastern ceramics.

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Beyond these surface appearances, this influence extends to deeper meanings, including numerology. During the studio visit, patterns of 4 (4, 8, 12) began to emerge within the bodies of work, however intentional or not. Sheryo was quick to speak about the auspicious meanings of the numbers 4 and 8 in Chinese, representing wealth and death respectively. Other coded beliefs trace their way through the different media in the exhibition, including the Illuminati. The all-seeing-eye positioned atop a pyramid has become a widely recognized symbol for the alleged secret society. Through these allegorical codes, an air of mysticism is hidden within their playful cartoons. Read the rest of this article »


Category: Featured Posts, Gallery/Museum Shows, Studio Visits | Tags: , ,

Even Romantics Love Violence

May 10th, 2013 | By | No Comments »

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A manic excitement came from Hellbent as he opened the door to his studio, his first visit in nearly two weeks. Strands of tape wafted in the breeze created as the artist circled the narrow room. The lace-patterned strips dangle, waiting for their newly reimagined purpose, as a part of the Mix Tape series. Leftover from masking his other series, cleverly titled Demos, this formerly discarded tool becomes repurposed. These two bodies of work combine to form Mighty Tanaka’s upcoming exhibition, Even Romantics Love Violence, opening tonight from 6pm – 9pm.

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Hellbent continues tracing his way around the periphery of his space, as if following a track, and sharing his inspiration along the path. In the same breath, I am told about David Wojnarowicz stenciling through the 80′s before being launched into a discussion about graffuturism and post-graffiti art. With an education in art history, Hellbent rattles off influences with the intensity of someone who devours the visual culture in which they are surrounded. This excitement for art animates the room, bringing dimensionality to the flat plains in his panels.

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The exuberance that Hellbent exhibits in his studio weaves itself though the neons and lace that connote his style. Once the backdrop for characters, his patterns have come to the foreground in the past year, most notably in the artist’s largest wall to date, a collaboration with See One in Bushwick. Here, the delicate details that were once behind bold graphics, such as Freud’s jawbone, now stand alone adjacent to See One’s shards, which dance lightly across the surface. Even Romantics Love Violence marks an several important transitions in Hellbent’s evolution; while the artist’s geometric interpretation has appeared in the public sphere in multiple locations, Mighty Tanaka is the first to give this work a solo exhibition.

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The second shift in the artist’s body of work comes through the repurposing of masking tape, where patterns emerge from the overspray found used to mask his lace stencils. Using liquid glass, board, and tape, the Mix Tape series becomes a tongue-in-cheek poke at these materials. Just as the artist consumes the visual history with which he is surrounded, each part of his process has been utilized for these series. Through his varied means of creation, the two play off of one another as the light pieces of tape become encased between layers of board and glass. In contrast, the Demos sufrace remain untouched, thus retaining the delicate texture of lace.

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The energy comes to a close with the studio visit as the florescent layers of tape, glass, and wood are stacked together. The pieces are placed on a shelf and the light is turned off.

For many artists, their work is a manifestation of themselves, be it politically engaging, thoughtful, or comedic. In the case of Hellbent, the care taken to thoughtfully plan out the arrangement of lace combined with the energy of neon spray paint speaks to these sensibilities.

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Even Romantics Love Violence opens Friday, May 10th, from 6pm – 9pm at Mighty Tanaka (111 Front Street, Brooklyn, NY).

Photos by Rhiannon Platt


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: ,

Sheryo and the Yok: Exploring histories at the Bushwick Collective – Part 3

April 22nd, 2013 | By | No Comments »

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Note: This article is the third in a three part series that discusses how three artists dealt with the topic of histories within their Bushwick Collective murals. Check out part 1 here and part 2 here.

Recently, the Yok and Sheryo shared their “Pipe Dreams” with 5 Pointz in Long Island City. This past week, the duo chose to show the Bushwick Collective their present rather their future. Emblazoned with the locals of Bushwick, such as roaches, rats, pizza, and the devil, their composition contains memories of their travels as well as these traces of home. Titled “Road Trip,” skeletons can be seen surfing, which the Yok took in while in Australia, alongside various characters painting and drinking. Together, each of these cartoons rides an extended motorcycle, joining memories of home and far off excursions.

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The complex narratives in their collaborative walls often contain coded jokes as well as the dominant narrative; Ping Pong nicknames references to cartoons find their way into the descriptive elements of each figure. Most endearing of any character Sheryo has created was one that surfaced recently in the crew of cyclists. An alien with other worldly features and was placed between a bearded man and a surfing skeleton in the central part of the piece. The artist said that it represented herself as an illegal alien, going so far as to create a unicorn on the being to match her own clothing that day. This self-portrait sees the artist riding alongside representations of her travels and local friends, enjoying the ride.

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Photos by Rhiannon Platt


Category: Photos | Tags: , ,