If you took Gaia to a high school drawing contest he might place first or second, but put his efforts on the street and it becomes worth half as much as a real Swoon. It may be a testament to street artist Swoon’s influence and popularity, that an influenced artist can find a ravenous audience without a new style, technique, or thought for where/how to install it. As a derivative work, its more saccharine, dim witted, but just about as popular. Gaia plays the Monkey’s to Swoons Beatles.
That’s one way to think about Gaia. In fact, that diatribe is a portion of a faux New Yorker article which was wheatpasted right next to a Gaia piece.
On the other hand, Gaia might be really good. That’s what I’d say. His work is powerful and the melding of man and animal creates some very beautiful results. Gaia’s the first to admit that his work is influenced by Swoon, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. All artists have influences. I asked Gaia about his, and about his thoughts on people who say he is too much like Swoon.
Gaia: I think that it is quite apparent in my work that Swoon is a strong influence but I believe that the comparison is a little tired now because I really do feel that my pieces are distinguishable. I believe that these comments and mistakes also stem from a real lack of understanding of the the Street Art scene. Once the viewer has a true awareness and visual literacy for the work that is on the street, then such confusion is avoided.
Here are some of the comments on Gaia’s flickr about the above wheatpasted criticism of his work. Unlike some artists, seems like Gaia is really about transparency and constructive criticism. He doesn’t try to come up with random meanings in his work. They look nice, that’s great for now, but he’s also working to get better.
The sound of one hand clapping.
A very poor critique.
D- for effort.
Must try harder.
I never liked the Beatles anyway. Who wants to be compared to Paul McCartney?
hahaha i do appreciate that fact that someone conceived of this idea, wrote it, designed it, and pasted it. makes for an interesting discussion
but…in my opinion…the two of you aren’t similar…other than wheat paste and paper…techniques of production, subject matter, imagery are all different…this is like saying picasso didn’t have a right to paint on canvas cause monet already did it.
while i think there is no denying that her work always remains a strong inspiration, I feel like there is room for all of us on the street.
yeah, just because two people use the same medium doesn’t mean they are doing the same thing.
george warburton says:
i think it is an interesting avenue for investigation… i would like to know a bit more about the inspiration of your work gaia? and even more so the intention? how do you think your intention differs from its interpretation? there seems to be quite a formula for making art today; that is to utilise collage, and then make reference to a historical icon or myth that somehow justifies its production and existence in an artistic context.
i’m all for this, but it’s important to be informed on who, what, when, where, why. basic stuff really
Absolutely, while I would like to discuss this further, I think you basically have the formula down. I think it is more important to explore as to why this particular mode of inspiration is employed.
My intentions are only really fulfilled by the interpretations. Quite honestly the imagery is relatively open and therefore engenders a variety of reactions and readings. And that is partly my intention. That is the reason why I get up
george warburton says:
That’s a good point you make, about the exploration of the process being important. I think that the process has reached the point now, that it is fashion. There’s some magic lost in this, as it just becomes production of pop vomit.
This isn’t really a conversation that we can easily have over the internet, but… What you describe as your intention is hard for me to understand, it is of course that when you paste, you’re putting an issue out for debate, but what issue are you putting out? An aesthetically pleasing image… is it just a beginning in a sense, to instigate something else; an organic train of thought? Or is it revolting against something? There are conventions that street art revolts against everyday in a legal or even in a graffiti context, but that goes without saying..
You make great images.
George I ll get to your point soon.
Mastodon, I have always been interested in the opinion of those who believe my work is subpar or not original. Do you see any value in Gaia’s work? On an emotional level do you connect with it at all. Which of his pieces do you admire?
MASTODON MASSACRE [deleted] says:
I think that the biggest value of the work is that it has the potential to over up and ugly wall, you know like wall paper is nicer to look at then drywall. I think it has potential to inspire other people, I think it has a lot of value. I just personally think that the look of the work is sort of boring because I feel like I have seen it before, but I mean I know how hard it is come up with something that is what a GD major would call fresh.
I am not trying to attack you as a person or as an artist, I mean, I am not saying anything I wouldn’t say in an elements critique.
Your work is technically well done, and I admire the work you put in, in the studio and on the streets, but I just get this sense in your work that I am seeing a work done by you in the manner of someone else.
The pieces I like are the lone wolves, grizzly bear, and the earth girl.
george warburton says:
hmm. moving right along, go on gaia…
Essentially, the conecptual component of my pieces, in the sense that the piece functions beyond its formal composition, is soley that it is on the street.
Otherwise, the work is very traditional. There is no inherent message beyond what is emotionally aroused within the viewer.
I guess, yes. Currently my work is very much about creating an aesthetically pleasing image.
Gaia is also known in some circles for making some early mistakes in the placement of his work. On his flickr, people have criticized his going over certain pieces, include work by some prominent graffiti artists.
Here’s a series of comments from the above photo’s flickr page:
El Diablo Blanquito says:
supreme does collaborations with countless artists in graffiti and skateboarders who are trying to do art. if you dont have respect for them, then who? lotta pics on here that are straight over graffiti too. wait till someone catches you going over their shit, i hope they put it on youtube so i can laugh.
El Diablo Blanquito says:
Must have been tuff growing up on the mean streets of murray hill.
Mr. NEW YORK says:
they wont be here next month. its all good
jason i see you ve been doing your research
Anyways, lets quick with the negativity for just a moment if you will. Throughout the year and a half or so that I have had an account on flickr, my profile has been frequented by a number of individuals such as yourself who have had an issue with my work.
And they would really provide some scathing “ciritcism” to speak in a euphemistic sense. At fist, I would truly take their comments to heart and become deeply offended by what they had to say, but after time and time again of these interesting encounters, I no longer take it to heart.
Which leaves us at an intriguing cross road. I have found that rather than ignore these people, it is much more constructive to engage. And of course if you are not comfortable answering these questions, it is your right.
This is the question I always pose. Rather than talk about my work in such a negative light, which of, if any, of my images do you find striking or strongest? And Why? Can you connect ith any of my work on an emotional level.
Thanks for even reading this post
El Diablo Blanquito says:
Ok, lets play civilized for now and talk in a constructive manner.
First: my comment above wasn’t even about your art, but about your lack of respect for other art & cultures.
Supreme is a skateboard/streetwear company that has been nothing but supportive of talented people for years. giving light to artist, designers, and graffiti writers giving them work and exposure to help further their careers, in exchange for a product that speaks to like-minded people.
My second comment was about how you post your stuff straight over graffiti. which is a culture in itself that most of us take with great seriousness. Some say that going over graffiti will sometimes lead to having your own artwork crossed out, and in more extreme situations: violence.
I advise you to take this into consideration when out doing your “street art” as I would be quite sad to hear about such a tragic mishap. Graffiti writers in nyc seem to be quite the rif-raff, If I were you I would avoid these possible conflicts and just pick your own spots from now on, avoiding these possible problems all together.
I have to simultaneously aggree and disagree with you on the supreme issue. Regardless of what they do or provide to artists as a company, I feel very strongly that a private business can pay for sanctioned advertising space on its own expense. I do not think that any franchized institution has a right to an illegal blitz and guerilla campaign selling their products or their message ESPECIALLY when they effectively take nearly every single wheatpaste spot with precedence in soho and williamsburg. They simply went over everyone, from both the street art and graff scene with utter impunity. I was very glad that the most recent second wave of advertisement was eradicated from the streets so quickly.
This philosophy of mine also holds true to the Obama pieces that Shepherd Fairey has been throwing up. His campaign has raised millions of dollars to fund his cause, yet there is some pseudo-street campaign on the street idolizing him as this savior. And most of these pieces are once again are on active spots.
My issue is that I do not want to see institutions such as these consuming illegal space. I do not really care as to what their message is or what they are selling.
Secondly, when I was first getting up, I admittedly did go over some graff and some pretty notorious writers as well. And rest assured, I do not need anyone to tell me how violent or dangerous certain individuals in the graff scene are. But that was a long time ago and I now have a completely different knowledge and perspective on graff. While there may be writers who feel that my disrespect has not been requited, I personally must move on and admit stupid mistakes of my past.
As to your coment on choosing my own spots, well I believe that there can be a balance in both. Hitting up the usual spots and also finding new frontiers.
Given those comments, and after he picked Booker for his Great in 08 post, I knew that Gaia would have something interesting to say about graffiti.
Gaia: My relationship with the graff scene is one of a watchful enthusiast rather than an active participant. I have immense respect for a lot of writers in New York but I think it is safe to say that the scene is not particularly friendly to wheatpaste. I think there is a lot of contempt in the graff scene towards my work which is unfortunate, but to a certain extent it is understandable. When I fist started getting up in high school, my knowledge of graffiti was negligible which led to a few regrettable instances where I inadvertantly dissed some serious writers. Now, as I proceed in the streets I am more careful to not cover anyone’s work, whether it be street art or paint.
What does showing your work in a gallery do that putting it up in the streets can’t – and vice versa. Where do you personally prefer to view your own stuff?
Gaia: I find that both realms provide their freedoms and conversely their limitations. The gallery affords me the opportunity to present my pieces as a cohesive body of work with a focused vision. My gallery work allows me to explore different avenues of my work and pursue a more tradtional avenue of production while simultaneously sharing a sanctioned space with some incredible artists. But I feel like my work truly functions when it is in the public sphere. I like to see my street work as a reactivation of space; as something that gives a building a new and fleeting definition in the constant flux of the urban landscape. I feel like the pieces on the street develop a strong relationship with the viewer and hold a greater significance when they are apart of a person’s routine and life.
Would you ever completely abandon the street?
Gaia: That question is especially pertinent now that we are currently undergoing an ecomonmic “crisis.” I want to maintain a career in the art market that is consistant and responsible and of course it would be a blessing if I could sell out every show that I participated in. But if for some reason the sales of my work do begin to wane, the streets will always be a limitless canvas. Considering the fact that I just turned 20, I hope to continue working in the streets as long as posible!
Gaia and Rachel Lowing will be making and installation at the thinkspace gallery next week for the From The Streets of Brooklyn show. Uroboros Project explores the relationship between people and nature.