Fra.Biancoshock’s loving destruction

April 17th, 2014 | By | No Comments »
Detail of "Come to see my graffiti collection"

Detail of “Come to see my graffiti collection”

These new works by Fra.Biancoshock make me really uncomfortable. I love them. They are all part of his new series Graffiti is a Religion and were unveiled last month at his solo show Ephemeralism at 77 Art Gallery in Milan, Italy. The series is Fra.Biancoshock’s tribute to graffiti and graffiti culture, but it’s not as straightforward as that. Other artists, if they wanted to pay tribute to graffiti, might replicate what they see on the street onto a canvas. That’s certainly not unheard of. But that’s sort of work is just a facsimile. Fra.Biancoshock wanted the real thing, so he went out onto the streets of Italy and got it. He chipped graffiti off of walls and is putting it back on display in a series of artworks.

"Graffiti Puzzle"

“Graffiti Puzzle”

With “Graffiti Puzzle,” Fra.Biancoshock plays off the idea of famous paintings that get reproduced in puzzle form. Except, this time, it’s the actual wall that players are urged to reassemble. The wall is by the VMD 70′S crew (or a member of the crew), one of the most famous Italian graffiti crews. Although the labeling on the box suggests that the VMD 70′s were aware of this project and willing participants, I’m not sure, and I’ve decided that it’s more interesting not to know, so I haven’t asked Fra.Biancoshock.

Detail of "Graffiti Puzzle"

Detail of “Graffiti Puzzle”

For “Come to see my graffiti collection,” he carefully cataloged a process of removing small pieces of works of graffiti from around Italy and has put the tiny paint fragments back on display like a series of holy relics that references not only the complete pieces from which they were removed but the entire careers of those writers. Destruction, maybe? But as Fra.Biancoshock says, “The culture of graffiti here is treated like any other theme in the history of humanity.”

"Come to see my graffiti collection"

“Come to see my graffiti collection”

“Cornerstone” goes a step further and anonymizes the artists, a tribute to graffiti culture as a whole. It is made up of fragments of graffiti by some of the most historically important Italian writers, the people who together form the cornerstone of Italian graffiti culture.

"Cornerstone"

“Cornerstone”

We all long for physical representations of the things we hold dear or somehow important. But graffiti is ephemeral. 99.9% of the historic graffiti has been destroyed, and it’s really only through documentation that anything gets preserved. If graffiti is a culture that many people treat like a religion, what physical representations can we hold on to when the graffiti itself is made to be destroyed? Just old copies of Subway Art and black books I guess…

In this series, Fra.Biancoshock tackles that subject, and while his conclusions may seem absurd at first, they are not totally unfamiliar. Religious relics and historical artifacts are often treated like the pieces in Graffiti is a Religion: They are chopped up and spread so thin that they no long depict the whole of what they were, only reference it. In trying to love and preserve relics and artifacts, we often destroy them, as has been done here. And of as I’ve argued in the past, even ripping an entire artwork off of a wall in one piece, as has happened so often with Banksy’s work, does not really preserve it. That only gives a reference to what once was: An artwork placed on a particular wall in a particular public space. These paint chips are not graffiti, but they are all that we have once the buffman shows up.

With Graffiti is a Religion, Fra.Biancoshock simultaneously brings graffiti indoors and humbly acknowledges the impossibility of such a task. All of these pieces make me uncomfortable. The best art does that.

Photos by Fra.Biancoshock


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags:

Melbourne Monthly Madness – February (belated) 2014

April 17th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

Still playing catch up on my posts, so here’s my favourites from February. Lots of great stuff yet again in February featuring works by Melbourne’s local talent and a few from our many interstate and international visitors.

To start off the month AllThoseShapes brought us some great bits and pieces, including this great paste from Lucy Lucy, another neon piece from Straker (loving this new style of his), some more rad stencils from Akemi Ito, this apt piece by Spie with an angry gorilla commenting on taggers in Hosier and Rutledge lanes (2 of Melbourne’s most tagged/capped lanes) and a couple of slaps from MIO, who is killing it at the moment with stickers and lots of throwies around town.

Lucy Lucy. Photo by AllThose Shapes

Lucy Lucy. Photo by AllThose Shapes.

Straker. Photo by AllThose Shapes

Straker. Photo by AllThose Shapes.

Akemi Ito. Photo by AllThose Shapes

Akemi Ito. Photo by AllThose Shapes.

Spie. Photo by AllThose Shapes

Spie. Photo by AllThose Shapes.

MIO. Photo by AllThose Shapes

MIO. Photo by AllThose Shapes.

MIO. Photo by AllThose Shapes

MIO. Photo by AllThose Shapes.

Dean Sunshine captured these great abando pieces by Slicer, Rashe and Jaw. A shot of the finished wall at the annual Park St Party paint up by Mayo, Steve Cross, DVATE, Ethics, Askem, Sat, Porno, Awes and Simple Sime. And finally 3 from Dean’s top ten, amazing pieces by Choq and Sueb, Makatron and SAGE.

Slicer. Photo by Dean Sunshine

Slicer. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

Rashe. Photo by Dean Sunshine

Rashe. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

Rashe. Photo by Dean Sunshine

Rashe. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

Jaws. Photo by Dean Sunshine

Jaw. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

Mayo, Steve Cross, DVATE, Ethics, Askem, Sat, Porno, Awes and Simple Sime (Park Street Party). Photo by Dean Sunshine

Mayo, Steve Cross, DVATE, Ethics, Askem, Sat, Porno, Awes and Simple Sime (Park Street Party). Photo by Dean Sunshine.

Choq and Sueb. Photo by Dean Sunshine

Choq and Sueb. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

Makatron. Photo by Dean Sunshine

Makatron. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

SAGE. Photo by Dean Sunshine

SAGE. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

David Russell was a busy man as usual. Rad pieces from the Pull UP party at Juddy Roller (which saw a full repaint of the space) by Choq, Slicer, Shawn Lu, Adnate, Jaw, Rashe, DEAMS, Taylor White and Brian Itch. A nice new piece from Kaffeine. And finally Ink and Clog, who visited us from Singapore, painted these 2 great walls. I’ve also included another great shot by Roberth Pinarete Villanueva showing a different perspective again of the Hosier Lane with his awesome 180 degree technique.

Choq. Photo by David Russell

Choq. Photo by David Russell.

Slicer, Shawn Lu, Adnate, Jaws, Rashe. Photo by David Russell

Slicer, Shawn Lu, Adnate, Jaw, Rashe. Photo by David Russell.

Slicer, Jaws, Shawn Lu Rashe, Adnatea and DEAMS. Photo by David Russell

Slicer, Jaw, Shawn Lu, Rashe, Adnatea and DEAMS. Photo by David Russell.

Taylor White. Photo by David Russell

Taylor White. Photo by David Russell.

Brian Itch. Photo by David Russell

Brian Itch. Photo by David Russell.

Kaffeine. Photo by David Russell

Kaffeine. Photo by David Russell.

Ink & Clog. Photo by David Russell

Ink & Clog. Photo by David Russell.

Ink & Clog. Photo by David Russell

Ink & Clog. Photo by David Russell.

Ink & Clog. Photo by Roberth Pinarete Villanueva

Ink & Clog. Photo by Roberth Pinarete Villanueva.

Ink and Clog also put this short video together after their trip to Melbourne.

Phoenix the Street Artist -  Photo via Invurt

Phoenix the Street Artist. Photo via Invurt.

Finally I had to include this interview by Fletch from Invurt with Phoenix the Street Artist, one of my favourite interviews I have read in a long time, about one of my favourite Melbourne street artists. (Check out his work here).

That’s all for February. March post coming soon.

Photos courtesy of AllThoseShapes, Roberth Pinarete Villanueva, Dean Sunshine, David Russell and Invurt

Video courtesy of Ink and Clog


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ÑEWMERICA: Birth of a Nation at Exit Room NY with LNY, Icy & Sot, ND’A, Mata Ruda and Sonni

April 14th, 2014 | By | No Comments »
LNY, El Prieto

LNY, El Prieto

Somewhat reminiscent of RAE’s remarkable recreation of an East Village bodega, Exit Room NY’s current exhibit, ÑEWMERICA: Birth of a Nation, focuses on the endangered bodega. In addition to a impressive installation recreating a bodega that is about to give way to a Bank of America, the exhibit features dozens of artworks by the members of the newly launched collective, ÑEWMERICA. Here’s a sampling:

Icy and Sot refashion bottles and cigarette boxes

Icy and Sot refashion bottles and cigarette boxes

Bodega exterior, collaborative installation

Bodega exterior, collaborative installation

NDA

ND’A

Mata Ruda, The Passage to Cosmos

Mata Ruda, The Passage to Cosmos

Sonni, El Tio Colorido

Sonni, El Tio Colorido

LNY, When he dies, Judith will bury him in the Gucci store

LNY, When he dies, Judith will bury him in the Gucci store

The exhibit continues through this week at 270 Meserole Street in Bushwick; check the Exit Room NY Facebook page for hours.

Photos by Lois Stavsky


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

Barry McGee, Dan Murphy and Isaac T. Lin together in Philadelphia

April 3rd, 2014 | By | No Comments »

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Good news! One international superstar and two great Philadelphia mainstays are showing together in Philadelphia starting next week at the Department of Neighborhood Services show at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery. Barry McGee is of course Barry “TWIST” McGee. Dan Murphy is half of Megawords and Vandalog readers may know him as a key member of Steve Powers’ ICY Signs company. Isaac Lin used to be at Philadelphia’s famous Space 1026 and graffiti nerds around the world may know him for his involvement with the DFW zines (which Dan Murphy has also been involved in). These three artists have shown together before and Murphy and Lin are regulars in the Philadelphia art scene, but I don’t think McGee has not shown in Philadelphia since the Indelible Market show at the ICA Philadelphia in 2000.

That McGee should return to Philadelphia with this show and at Fleisher/Ollman is fitting, since Indelible Market was curated by Alex Baker, who is now the director of Fleisher/Ollman, and also included three artists with one foot in the art world and one foot in graffiti: McGee, Todd James and Steve Powers. If the name of that show and the artist line up sounds familiar, it’s because Indelible Market was the first in a series of historic installations including the same trio that have taken place in spaces including Deitch Projects and the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (the others being called Street Market and Street, with Street also including Murphy and others).

Is it too much to hope that Baker can strike gold again? Maybe that’s asking too much and expecting too little. Not every show that Baker does in this format has to be historic to be interesting, and it’s unfair to let one show define his curatorial/directorial career. Still, I’m really looking forward to Department of Neighborhood Services. At the very least it’s three really interesting artists, including one who hasn’t show in Philadelphia in far too long.

Philly, don’t miss this thing.

Department of Neighborhood Services opens on Friday, April 11th from 6-8pm and runs through June 7th at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery.

Image courtesy of Fleisher/Ollman Gallery


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

More ways to bring the energy of graffiti indoors

March 16th, 2014 | By | No Comments »
Lek, Sowat, Liard, Larbi Cherkaoui and Nour Eddine Tilsaghani. Photo by Louis-Brisset.

Lek, Sowat, Liard, Larbi Cherkaoui and Nour Eddine Tilsaghani. Photo by Louis Brisset.

A note from the editor: I expected some people to object to my recent post about The Wa, but I’m glad that Sowat used it a chance for discussion. He emailed me after reading my post to let me know about a recent show of his where he, Lek and Arnaud Liard tried to bring of bit of graffiti’s spirit to a gallery setting. I thought his argument and the whole idea of the show was interesting, so I asked him to contribute this guest post about the project. – RJ

A few days ago, one of RJ’s post titles made me cringe. Documenting The Wa’s work, he wrote, “The Wa brings the street inside, but not in that cheesy ‘I’m a street artist painting on canvas, therefore I’m bringing the street inside’ way”

I was just back from a three-week residency in Marrakech with Lek and Arnaud Liard, organized by David Bloch Gallery. Except for Soccer slogans, Graffiti and Street Art, let alone muralism, seems to be relatively new in Morroco, which in itself was exciting. In addition to painting murals in the Medina and New Town with Local artists Larbi Cherquaoui and Nour Eddine Tilsaghani, we had put together a show with Lek and Arnaud Liard, called ‘Contraband’. Despite our own harsh views on the subject as teenage graffiti writers, most of this show was constituted of canvases… Had we done something cheesy?

Photo courtesy of Sowat

Sowat on the left and right. Liard in the center. Photo courtesy of Sowat

Just like a lot a artists around us, from day one, our main motivation in accepting David Bloch’s proposition, was to find creative ways to keep in touch with 20+ years of writing freely around abandoned buildings when transitioning to the coded atmosphere of a white cube. How could we apply what Graffiti had thought us in this brand new territory?

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Category: Gallery/Museum Shows, Guest Posts | Tags: , , ,

The Museum of the City of New York saves the seeds of a culture

March 10th, 2014 | By | 2 Comments »
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Mural by Daze behind a display of spray cans. Photo by gsz.

Well, really, the headline here isn’t entirely accurate. The artist and collector Martin Wong saved the seeds of a culture, and then donated his collection the Museum of the City of New York. And then the museum mostly kept those seeds hidden away for about twenty years. But now the museum, with the help of curator Sean Corcoran and others, has brought those seeds back into the spotlight for a new generation to learn from. Of course, I’m talking about City as Canvas, the new show at the Museum of the City of New York, and the seeds I’m talking about are the seeds of modern graffiti.

The back story behind City as Canvas is pretty great. Wong, a painter who lived in NYC’s East Village in the 80′s, was noticing graffiti and as he met some of the men and women behind it, he began supporting the young writers by buying their work. Eventually, that turned into a major collection of work by New York train writers like Sharp, Daze, Lee, Futura and many more. Wong even tried to open his own “Museum of American Graffiti” in 1989, but it didn’t work out. Still, Wong had amassed something special and unique that captured a very important time period for graffiti as artists transitioned from trains to canvases and teenagers to adults, and as graffiti itself spread from New York City to the rest of the world. Eventually, he donated his collection to the Museum of the City of New York. Those are the basics, but really, the story of Wong’s collection has already been told very well and in more detail in the New York Times, so do check out that article.

As for the show itself…

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Ben Eine and Ludo join up with The L.I.S.A. Project NYC

February 19th, 2014 | By | No Comments »
Ben Eine on the Bowery. Photo by Rey Rosa.

Ben Eine on the Bowery. Photo by Rey Rosa.

I’ve got two small but exciting pieces from The L.I.S.A. Project NYC to talk about today.

When I first started working on organizing murals in Little Italy, we called it The L.I.S.A. Project NYC for Little Italy Street Art. We never expected to get beyond Mulberry Street, but about 18 months later, have our first mural in Chinatown. Earlier month, The L.I.S.A. Project NYC invited Ben Eine to paint a mural at 161 Bowery, and he knocked it out just before the opening of his show at Judith Charles Gallery. Eine and his work will always hold a special place in my heart. His work helped me get interested in street art when I saw shutters much like his piece for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC peppering Shoreditch six years ago when I knew absolutely nothing about street art or graffiti. Ben was also one of the first artists that I spent any proper time with or chatted with about street art, and he really inspired me to explore things further. For all those reasons, plus I just plain enjoy his shutter alphabets, it was a joy to help arrange a spot for him to paint, and for him to be our first artist painting outside of Little Italy. He helped me expand my horizons six years ago, and now he’s doing the same for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC.

Eine’s show at Judith Charles Gallery in NYC, Heartfelt, runs through March 16th, but here’s one photo from the show. You can see more over at Arrested Motion.

Ben Eine. Photo by Rey Rosa.

Ben Eine. Photo by Rey Rosa.

Ben Eine. Photo by Rey Rosa.

Ben Eine. Photo by Rey Rosa.

Ludo on Mulberry Street. Photo by Rey Rosa.

Ludo on Mulberry Street. Photo by Rey Rosa.

This month we’ve also worked with Ludo. Earlier this week, he pasted a piece on a door on Mulberry Street in the heart of Little Italy. I’ve been a fan of Ludo’s work for years, so I’m bummed that Wayne and Rey, my partners at The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, got to handle this one themselves while I sit in Philadelphia. On the plus side, in addition to the door with The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, Ludo has been getting up around NYC and he has a solo show opening at Jonathan Levine Gallery this Thursday evening (6-8pm). So I’ll have a lot to check out next time I’m in town.

Ludo at work in Little Italy. Photo by Rey Rosa.

Ludo at work in Little Italy. Photo by Rey Rosa.

Ludo at work in Little Italy. Photo by Rey Rosa.

Ludo at work in Little Italy. Photo by Rey Rosa.

I think these are great pieces, but let’s face it: Ben and Ludo both painted work with The L.I.S.A. Project NYC in the run-up to gallery shows. And some of the work we have planned for the next few months also coincides with gallery shows. I know some people find that controversial, suggesting that the murals become mere ads for the gallery work. As someone who really doesn’t like outdoor advertisements, this is something I think about. I look at things from a different angle: In many cases, the artists we work with who time their pieces with a gallery show are out of town artists. They aren’t going to come back in a month when their show is down to put up work, so we grab them while they are around. And yes, the work may function as an ad to some viewers, but the work has no real branding on it beyond the artist’s own signature style. For 99% of the people who see these works in person, they see pure public art, not ads. And if you look at a work of street art or public art and do see an ad, it’s only because you’re already aware of the show that you may think the work is there to promote. Do murals help promote shows in a roundabout way? Sure. But it’s a subtle promotion that results in the creation of public art, and personally I have no problem with artists working in galleries. I want to support my talented friends so that they can live off of their art, if they choose to do so. So yes, we at The L.I.S.A. Project NYC are proud to say that sometimes we work with artists who are putting up art that coincides with gallery shows, because it allows for a more diverse set of murals and furthers supports the artists we love.

Ludo. Photo by Rey Rosa.

Ludo. Photo by Rey Rosa.

Photos by Rey Rosa for The L.I.S.A Project NYC


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos | Tags: , ,

C215 at Stolenspace and unveiling Vitry

February 19th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

photo 4 copy 2

C215 has gone back to what he does best with his recent show at Stolenspace Gallery in London. For the last few years, a lot of C215′s larger and more significant work has been full of vibrant color. For some artists, color works with what they are doing and they have a great sense of it. For others, less is more. While a lot of people do some to like C215′s colorful pieces, they weren’t for me, at least compared to less colorful stuff. I’ve always preferred his work in black and white or muted tones. With Back to Black, my wishes for less color have been wonderfully fulfilled.

photo 1 copy 3

Back in Black opened on the 7th, but I’m just posting about it now because there’s another event happening in conjunction with the show that I’m excited about… This Friday, a new book will be launching at Stolenspace in conjunction with C215′s show. The book, Vitry Ville Street Art, shows off some of the street art and murals in Vitry-sur-Seine, a Parisian suburb where C215 has been quietly bringing street artists for years. I wouldn’t say that the work in Vitry-sur-Seine is a secret, but it definitely isn’t widely known compared to the hype that so many more formal street art festivals get. I haven’t seen this new book yet, but I hope it helps shed light on an underrated little street art hub.

photo 2 copy 3

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Category: Books / Magazines, Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: ,

Track 1 at Bushwick’s Exit Room with Sonni, Marka 27, Chris RWK, Esteban del Valle and more

February 12th, 2014 | By | No Comments »
Marka 27, Sonni and Carlos Pinto

Marka 27, Sonni and Carlos Pinto

Exit Room, a wonderful new cultural space in Bushwick Brooklyn, is currently featuring Track 1, a collection of artworks painted directly on its walls, along with canvases, prints and zines by the participating artists. Conceived and curated by Dariel MTZ with Zoe, the exhibit continues through Friday.

Chris, RWK

Chris RWK

Viajero

Viajero

Esteban del Valle

Esteban del Valle

Jeff Henriquez -- on canvas

Jeff Henriquez — on canvas

Photos by Lois Stavsky


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

Melbourne Monthly Madness – December 2013

February 11th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

Damn, it’s February already. How did that happen?? (Actually – I have been extremely busy working on a new project which I hope to share with you soon). Sorry to keep you waiting for this post.

December 2013 was another MASSIVE month in Melbourne, a great way to end the year.

Darbotz, an Indonesian street artist, visited Melbourne in December and put together this great little video.

Adnate painted Strike Bowling in Macquarie in association with Red Bull. A great video by Michael Danischewski. Adnate’s photo realism is just amazing.

Wonderwalls, a 3 day street art and graffiti festival up north in Wollongong looked awesome, featuring a great line up of Australian and International artists. From Melbourne Shida, Wonderlust, Adnate, Two One, Idiot and Sirum.

Wonderwalls Festival 2013 from The Hours on Vimeo.

Backwoods Gallery had their last show “A Study of Hands” for 2013 and it was a cracker, continuing on in the anatomy series – which will apparently continue over ten years – epic. I particularly liked works by Dave Kinsey and Lister.

Alex Mitchell, Curator of Backwoods Gallery and writer for The Opening Hours was back in Melbourne for the month. Alex did some great studio visits with Two One, Miso and Ghostpatrol. Some great, intimate photos.

Two One - Photo by Alex Mitchell

Two One. Photo by Alex Mitchell.

Miso. Photo by Alex Mitchell.

Miso. Photo by Alex Mitchell.

Ghost Patrol. Photo by Alex Mitchell.

Ghost Patrol. Photo by Alex Mitchell.

Everyone’s been talking about this abando and I can see why. David Russell managed to find his way in and capture some amazing work. I really love Slicer’s geometrical shapes filled with his signature slices, as well as Deams, and Rashe’s pieces. All of this work feels so at home in this place. I do love abandos! More here.

Slicer - Photo by David Russell

Slicer. Photo by David Russell.

Slicer - Photo by David Russell

Slicer. Photo by David Russell.

Slicer - Photo by David Russell

Slicer. Photo by David Russell.

Slicer - Photo by David Russell

Slicer. Photo by David Russell.

Deams - Photo by David Russell

Deams. Photo by David Russell.

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