Michael Beerens is a a Parisian artist. He started doing graffiti in the late ’90s but transitioned to more illustrative work in 2007, after a serious motorcycle incident which left him in a hospital bed for nearly 6 months. “I realized that graffiti, the way I practiced it, was a completely selfish act and limited in time, jail was always around the corner,” Beerens states in his bio. “Gradually I started using painting as my forum, a way of conveying a message, an idea.” It’s not clear if his transition from ‘graffiti’ to ‘street art’ was also a transition from working illegally to doing more commissioned walls, however he implies that doing street art, to whatever degree, is a lesser risk of arrest than graffiti. I know this is a commonly accepted idea now but I’ve never seen it in an artist statement.
Beerens work is heavily symbolic, often using animals to depict metaphors for struggle, subversion and the daily grind. The combination of his selective use of color, the detailed conglomerations of human-objects to construct larger objects (i.e. the bird’s nest above) are quite reminiscent of Blu.
Some of you might be thinking “Hey, those were for the public to enjoy!” or “Why should an unaffiliated auction house profit from the work/legal risks of these artists?” Good questions. But consider this… Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a literal piece of New York City from the safety of their home?
Ethical qualms aside, FAAM contacted Vandalog with an opportunity that we just couldn’t pass up: An interview with the auction house’s official “street art expert” Sebastien Laboureau of Moonstar Fine Art Advisors. Since many published authors and curators with extensive knowledge of street art and graffiti still don’t consider themselves experts, I decided to see what I could learn from a real street art expert…
Caroline Caldwell: At what point would a street artist be considered a ‘sell out’? If possible, provide examples.
Sebastien Laboureau, Street Art Expert: Art has a market, and street artists also sell their works, as long as artists stay true to their personal style and create from their hearts the concept does not apply. Recently many works from street artists sell at auctions, and in galleries because this art is contemporary and talks to a wide audience and public. Banksy is the leading street artist, and he sells hundreds of works everywhere in the world every year at increasing prices.
CC: The Banksy’s “Bandaged Heart Balloon” from her residency in New York City is a portion of the wall that was physically removed and transported to Miami. How do you suggest or imagine people display large pieces like this in their homes?
Expert: Street art is amazing in the way that there is no set medium, street artists can work on canvas, metal, walls, doors. The beauty of it is to keep it in its original medium, we find that collectors enjoy buying and displaying street art because it feels like the work is created in their home.
CC: How much of the art available in this auction was actually relocated from the street to the auction house?
Expert: Quite a few came directly from the streets, including two Banksy walls, a metal roll down gate by Kenny Scharf, and another large security gate by Lady Aiko & Terror 161. The great thing about these works is most of them were created in the street and will live a second life now. They will be preserved for eternity.
CC: If a street artist paints work on a canvas, should it be considered ‘street art’ or just ‘art’?
Expert: I do not feel the need to differentiate between the two, all is art, street art is art regardless medium it is created on.
CC: What is the difference between a ‘street art’ and a mural?
Expert: Street art is a style of painting and a mural is large scale work done on a building, one is genre and other is a medium.
CC: Who was the first authentic street artist to refer to themselves as a “street artist”?
Expert: The reality is that street art has always been around us. Some say street art was born in the late 70’s in New York City through graffiti art in public places. Some called it vandalism, some are still calling it vandalism… THIS IS ART!
CC: Should street artists in New York have NYC at the end of their Instagram handle?
Expert: Street artists should have any handle they please, to show where they have come from or where they are working. New York City is very active in street art, but Miami has also become a street art mecca, with so many murals painted over the past year with an incredible quality and concentration in the Wynwood District. Street art is everywhere, in the London suburbs, in Barcelona, Paris, everywhere! And even in museums now.
CC: Would it be advantageous for street artists to align their personal brands with current trends in urban wear?
Expert: Historically, street art has been linked to hip hop. Fashion has always been intertwined with art. There is no limitation into what can and should be done!
CC: Is illegal street art graffiti?
Expert: It is still illegal in many parts and areas of the world, but more and more artists have been granted areas where they can create their works. Art is above any law, as art is life! Art pertains to our everyday life, and everywhere I look when I see art I see beauty.
CC: Should there be a different word for street artists who are female?
Expert: There are more and more female street artists. We have great examples at our auction including Bambi and Swoon. Swoon has a museum show set-up in the Brooklyn Museum in April. Kazilla is a very talented street artist from the Wynwood who will be showing works and has brought local street artists together for the exhibition. There are many others! Once again, it makes no difference! ART IS ART!
CC: How long do you need to do the street arts before you’re considered a street artist?
Expert: There is no lead-time. A street artist is an artist that happens to use the streets as their canvas, there is no school. Some artists are better than others, but once again, there is no diploma to become a street artist!
CC: What’s the best city to get blog coverage in?
Expert: Miami is now becoming the street art mecca! But street art is everywhere in the world now.
I have always admired certain artists’ ability to reflect life, not as it is, but as we perceive it; where emotions are more indicative of how we view the world than our senses. That’s what art is all about, right? Feeling something.
Alex Senna is an artist and illustrator from São Paulo, whose expressive, lanky characters bring a softness to their urban setting. These characters and their interactions typically revolve around love and relationships, whether it be a romance between an elderly couple, playful young lovers or sentiments of a lasting friendship. Senna’s works invite their audiences into these intimate interactions and evoke a feeling of nostalgia.
Much like Know Hope, Senna uses universal symbols such as hearts, birds, raindrops, and musical notes in his street work. Typically using just black and white, his murals treat walls like the frames of a comic book, and the interactions between his characters feel equally animated.
Senna has done artwork for Nike, Adidas, and a window display for Hermès. Last year he participated in “Shoot For the Moon” in Miami during Art Basel, which was his first international festival. He later put up a whopping 30 murals in London in 40 days. Hopefully that creative energy persists and we’ll see more work from Alex in the future.
With more than 15 years of putting up work in the streets of Paris, Bom.K had his first ever solo show about a year ago in Paris at Galerie Itinerrance. Recently, many have been excited over the opening of his second solo show Confusions at Known Gallery in Los Angeles. Fellow Da Mental Vaporz crew member Sowat described Bom.K in the run up to this show: “Haunted by the visions he sees while lurking the city, by the faces of those he bumps into at every street corner, on each train he rides, Bom.k has spent years completing an imaginary bestiary, full of the hellish creatures that surround him. Like Jerome Bosh, Chris Cunningham or Hans Ballmer, the human body and the deformation of the flesh are one of the major themes of his work.” I asked Bom.K a bit about Confusions and his work in general. Confusions opened on January 11th and closes today, January 25th.
Caroline Caldwell: Much of the work in this show involves human disfiguration and almost nightmarish reconstructions of flesh. What inspired these pieces?
Bom.K: Most works made for the Known Gallery where produced in an instinctive manner and with the always present concept of shocking the viewer.
I am always amused by manipulating the human body. I love creating figures that can’t really exist nor be imagined. My works are nothing but the smallest fractions of images that goes through my mind everyday in full speed.
Caldwell: What about Confusions are you most excited about?
Bom.K: ‘Confusions’ was the perfect word to describe what was going through my creative process before starting to work on this show. I found myself forced to take a step back to see a wider picture of I wanted and what I had to do for this show to be really satisfied. First days of a new production are always doubtful or stressful but eventually confidence leads the way.
Caldwell: Can you talk a little bit about your sculptures? How did you get started creating your work in 3D?
Bom.K: This is all a little bit new for me. I started working on an ‘Aerotik’ model for my show at Galerie Itinerrance (April 2013, Paris) which led to a second model we should be releasing quite soon. It’s a new direction that I’m very excited to explore and evolve.
Caldwell: This is only your second solo show, though you’ve exhibited on the streets of Paris for years. How has working on your latest solo show felt in comparison to the previous one?
Bom.K: I consider myself very lucky to have had my shows with galleries that gave me total freedom of creation. I’m quite aware that gallerists takes risks with me as my works doesn’t exactly address the general public and this is something I appreciate and respect them for.
Just as the show in Paris, the one in LA confirmed for me that are many more art enthusiasts and collectors than I ever thought out there, that know my work very well. Talking and sharing ideas with these kind of passionate persons encourages me a lot.
This is a fresh piece in Santander, Spain by Sebastian Velasco. When Savage Habbit posted this piece, I was stopped dead in my tracks. I hadn’t heard of Velasco, and given the amount of ingenious creativity and masterful technical-ability that went into this piece, that seems absurd. Sebastian (or “Sebas”) Velasco works a wall like a dream journal. His illustrative style reminds me of work by members of the Paris-based crew Da Mental Vaporz, in that he playfully re-imagines cityscapes and the human form, and deliberately splices in graffiti.
Sebas Velasco is someone we’re going to be keeping on our radar. Follow him on Facebook, Flickr or his personal website, but no matter what- stay tuned!
ABCDEF‘s work seems no more difficult to produce than your standard shitty throw up, and yet it seems gallery-worthy. It’s stroke-your-chin-and-ponder worthy. It’s simple and exciting. There’s this great video where a disembodied John Baldessari tells Jason Schwartzman that fine art is like Gorgonzola cheese; if you give it to a child they will spit it right out. So you start giving them Velveeta cheese, and eventually they acquire a taste for Gorgonzola as they mature. ABCDEF is the Gorgonzola of street art.
Francisco de Pájaro got down with this little sculpture in London. As Dave showed earlier this month, Francisco does a lot of these sort of found-object street sculptures. I particularly like this one because it’s art trashing art, made of trash. His work is really funny and quite genius at times. Check it out here.
Recently, I received the latest edition of London-based Fiasco Creative Art Magazine. Fiasco has a lot of promise; with full-color glossy pages, it’s hard to detect this is only the second issue. The quality is somewhere between a full-fledged magazine and your average art zine. For this issue, there are interviews with ACE, Hello Monsters, Abject One and Michael De Feo. Although the street art photography isn’t formally labeled (that is to say, the artist has perhaps signed the piece but regardless the magazine doesn’t cite them), the zine is full of interesting snaps of what’s been happening on the streets of London.
I used to spend hours in book stores flipping through every street art book, absorbing every image, and of course wanting to reread them all at home. But let’s face it: art books are expensive. Receiving a quarterly zine is a great way to get the same or similar content of those books but more recent and for less money. Is it as long or durable as a book? No, but they’re probably still worth saving. Fiasco is just £5 (just under $8) per issue and the last edition came with a poster by ACE.
In her ongoing effort, since 2007, to revitalize the suburb of North Braddock, Pennsylvania, Swoon has recently launched a print shop Braddock Tiles. Through creating and selling prints of images donated by 50 artists, Swoon is trying to raise funds for the construction of a new roof for the town’s community center made of 20,000 handmade, honeycomb-shaped, ceramic tiles. The prints are priced at a reasonable $45 and each at an edition size of 250. Definitely worth the purchase, in my opinion. You can have a look at the collection of prints here.
Cosmo Sarson recently painted this 28-foot-tall breakdancing Jesus in Bristol, across from Banksy’s “Mild Mild West” piece. The mural is supposed to remain for two years and was apparently the piece was inspired by a 2004 breakdancing performance in the Vatican for the Pope John Paul II. We’ll go with that, and not just for the sake of being hilarious.