Mini-interview with Graffuturism’s Poesia


Graffuturism is one of the best blogs out there for innovative work by graffiti writers. The site is run by Poesia, who has just curated a group show at San Fransisco’s White Walls Gallery based around some of the artists he blogs about. L’Avenir opens this Saturday the 14th and runs through January 4th. I’ve been a fan of Graffuturism for years now and Poesia and I have gotten into some great discussions on Twitter, but we’ve never really had a chance to chat, so I emailed him a few questions about the blog and the show in the run-up to L’Avenir.

Augustine Kofie
Augustine Kofie

RJ: In one sentence, what makes someone a graffuturist?

Poesia: Most likely an artist with a graffiti background who has evolved and progressed beyond his initial roots.

RJ: I guess I always thought about Graffuturism as having to do with graffiti writers going in an abstract direction, but with this show you’ve included a lot of artists known for figurative works and made it clear in your artist statement that the movement isn’t purely about an abstract aesthetic. Can you go into a bit more detail on the similarities you see between say Sainer and Clemens Behr?

Poesia: Many people get this part of Graffuturism confused, but I feel it is because graffiti artists tend to move in a more abstract direction due to graffiti’s initial abstract nature. When compared to street art that already is more representational, Graffiti was and is an abstract form of art already. But we have to remember that graffiti has always used representational images cartoon characters etc since the early days of graffiiti, most the artists that were more inclined to paint representational or figurative work would get character or background duty on walls. Many of these talented artists never learned proper letters because they were always busy painting the backgrounds for the letter artists. One of the positive byproducts of Street Art was that now all these talented representational painters who had painted graffiti characters forever now saw that they could take center stage and create their own work without letters. This was an important evolution of graffiti and thus an artist like Sainer is just as an evolved graffiti artist as Clemens Behr who moved into a more abstract avenue of work. Both have this history that has evolved and thrived in a new age where painting whatever you like is possible without adhering to the traditional rules of graffiti. To me they are the same even if aesthetically polar opposites. The reason why Graffuturism is seen as an abstract movement is more due to the fact that there were more letterbased artists than figurative artists that have gone onto progress thus the surplus of abstract artists versus figurative ones.


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Three the hard way: Triple interview with Kofie, Joker and Derek Bruno

Augustine Kofie's studio. Photo courtesy of Breeze Block Gallery.
Augustine Kofie’s studio. Photo courtesy of Breeze Block Gallery.

A note from RJ: Augustine Kofie, Jerry ‘Joker’ Inscoe and Christopher Derek Bruno will be showing together this month at Breeze Block Gallery in Portland, Oregon in the show Three The Hard Way, curated by Sven Davis. I saw that lineup and was curious and excited for the show, but I knew there was someone out there with much more knowledge about these artists than I’ve got, so I asked my friend Remi Rough to write something about the importance of this show. He kindly obliged and offered to interview all three of the artists involved. Three The Hard Way opens on Thursday and through the end of November. Do check it out if you’re in Portland, and keep an eye on all four of these artists careers as they continue to take what they learned in graffiti and push beyond its boundaries. Here’s Remi…

Three artists, three very differing aesthetics and three extremely good friends of mine…

Two of these three artists also happen to be fellow Agents Of Change… I have shown work and painted alongside all of them at one point or another and I have work by all three hanging proudly in my home. This show is an important step for them all.

The work these three artists make is important! They are artists in the mid strides of their careers, producing work that signifies an intense shift from the street art or graffiti style that so many people seem to connect with.

It’s not simply abstract as some seem to call it. Their work is constructivist, minimalist and, in Derek Bruno’s case, verging on the sculptural.

Jerry 'Joker' Inscoe in his studio. Photo courtesy of Breeze Block Gallery.
Jerry ‘Joker’ Inscoe in his studio. Photo courtesy of Breeze Block Gallery.

Work like this is not mainstream. It swims against that with every fibre of it’s being. It struggles for a lager acceptance because people opt for the safety and reassurance of the obvious. This isn’t only the case with the viewers and art fans, it’s largely the case within the whole graffiti movement itself… But the fact that these 3 have managed to command the respect they so rightly deserve from the more traditional fraternity only goes to secure their places in the future of the art world.

I asked all three a set of tailored questions and asked them all to supply one image taken by Android phone. My thoughts were that in modern society we all have at least 3 points to make everyday and all use our phones as visual reference on a daily basis.

Christopher Derek Bruno's studio. Photo courtesy of Breeze Block Gallery.
Christopher Derek Bruno’s studio. Photo courtesy of Breeze Block Gallery.

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Weekend link-o-rama

Smells, Cash4, Don Pablo Pedro and Keely
Smells, Cash4, Don Pablo Pedro and Keely

Last class of the school year yesterday. Now for finals. Can’t wait… Here are some distractions in case you’re in a similar boat:

  • NoseGo has some new prints available today with Unit44. These are not giclee prints, but rather archival pigment prints, a significant step up in quality as I understand it.
  • The fantastic ceramic street artist Carrie Reichardt is organizing this show in London.
  • Great sculptural installation and indoor mural by Pixel Pancho in Mexico City.
  • Loving this collaboration between Kofie and El Mac.
  • S.butterfly has photos of the Bom.K show in Paris. Wish I could see this one in person.
  • And Kaws has a solo show in Tokyo at the moment. It’s Kaws, so feel free to check out the photos, but you pretty much knows what’s coming.
  • JR and José Parlá collaborated on a mural on the outside of Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, where they have a two-man show opening next week. Glad to see Parlá working outdoors, but it always strikes me as a bit odd since he tries to distance his work from graffiti. I guess when there’s a show to promote… Although to be fair, the show is about a series of collaborative murals that JR and Parlá made together in Cuba.
  • JR’s Inside Out project booth in Times Square is a huge hit. He’s been covering the street with photos of people who stop by his little photobooth, and it looks awesome. The billboards in Times Square were even (briefly) given over to JR for the project. The whole thing is a fight against outdoor ads and for public spaces for the public, but JR manages to make his point without beating people over the head with politics. Instead, JR just shows people a better world and makes them smile. I’m not a JR fanatic, but I absolutely love this project.

Photo by Hrag Vartanian

BSA and Hellbent Bring You “Geometricks”

(Detail) Olek

In the first of hopefully a prolific series of exhibitions, Brooklyn Street Art presents Geometricks, curated by street artist and art historian Hellbent. Rather than simply pairing random street artists together, as many exhibitions do, Geometricks attempts to delineate a movement that is currently at play within the scene. Artists scattered around the world have started creating pieces whose focus is abstract geometry. Featuring the work of Augustine Kofie, Chor Boogie, Drew Tyndell, Feral Child, Hellbent, Jaye Moon, Maya Hayuk, MOMO, OLEK, OverUnder, and See One, the show reaches to several cities to gather artists from different ends of the geometric(k) spectrum.

(Detail) Overunder
(Detail) Maya Hayuk

The different ends of this spectrum include artists who both directly and indirectly create work from rigid forms. With the paintings of featured artists Maya Hayuk and Augustine Kofie, the thematic connection to their imagery is blatant, though stunning nonetheless. It was, however, the installation pieces of Olek and Jaye Moon that I found to be most engaging in the space. The dimensionality inherent in the way that they create their pieces added a layer to their importance in a show centered on shape.

Jaye Moon
(Detail) Augustine Kofie
Jaye Moon

It is important to note that in addition to the work seen above, Hellbent has featured a wall specifically for a student’s budget. Many artists, such as Jaye Moon (featured above), See One, and Feral Child, have created smaller interpretations of their larger gallery pieces and have been priced at under $200.

Geometricks will have a public opening tonight from 6pm to 8pm at Gallery Brooklyn and will run from September 22 to October 28. Free shuttle service will be provided from the Carroll Street F/G station to the gallery as well as from the after party back to the station.

All photos by Rhiannon Platt

Upcoming: L.A. Freewalls Inside

A note from the editor: Yes, the Daniel Lahoda in this post is the same Daniel Lahoda who was investigated by the LAPD and complained about online on numerous occasions. While, to my knowledge, Lahoda has never been arrested and none of the past complaints have resulted in civil litigation, there were a lot of complaints about Lahoda being brought up consistently for a number of years. It’s impossible for me to say for sure what happened in Lahoda’s past. What I can say is that he does seem to be making an honest go of things with his current projects. I’ve had personal issues with Lahoda myself, but as far as I am concerned, this new gallery of his is a time for second chances. Since the last of the complaints against him surfaced, Lahoda has gone above and beyond with his noncommercial ventures like the LA Freewalls Project and involvement in changing LA’s mural regulations. If you asked me today, “Would you do business with Daniel Lahoda?”, my answer would be a cautious yes. If Lahoda did make mistakes in the past, I do not think he will make those mistakes again. Consider this aside as my way of publicly putting rumors and allegations from Lahoda’s past in the past and instead deciding to focus on the here and now. – RJ Rushmore

Daniel Lahoda’s L.A. Freewalls project has changed the face of the Arts District in Los Angeles. That much is inarguable. In fact, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine what the old warehouse district looked like without the rotating gallery at 7th & Mateo, ROA’s outdoor exhibition spanning Jesse and Imperial, HOW & NOSM, DABS & MYLA, Shepherd Fairey, and perhaps most indelibly, JR’s L.A. Wrinkles. Trust me, this is a good thing.

So what happens when these muralists that have transformed a neighborhood bring their work inside to the brand new LALA gallery? Can it maintain the same level of energy? The verdict will have to wait for the opening, but at first glance, you simply cannot argue with that lineup.

Up-and-coming artists like Anthony Lister, ASKEW, and ZES, all of whom have recently had some of the hottest shows anywhere, are in it. ZES’s mural partners in Little Tokyo and in L.A. Freewalls (alongside the incomparable PUSH, who is also in the show) UGLAR, are represented in the forms of Evan Skrederstu and Christopher D. Brand and possibly some special guests. On top of that, there’s HOW & NOSM. There’s Dan Witz. That alone is a killer group.

But throw in someone like, oh, I don’t know, Ron English–not to mention MOCA “Art in the Streets” vets like Shepherd Fairey, SABER, RISK, and SWOON? Well, let’s say that things just got serious. And they might get crazy too. In a good way. Here’s hoping, anyway.

Quite honestly, I haven’t seen this kind of excitement around in a while. Ever since Art Walk wrecked Gallery Row with its costly series of missteps, Downtown Los Angeles has been bleeding galleries. Upper Playground is gone. Mr. Cartoon’s shop is gone. Worst of all, Bert Green Fine Art, the originator himself, is gone too. The truth is, Downtown L.A. needs an innovative gallery–one willing to take risks, one unafraid to offend or prompt dialogue–more than people think.

Can LALA Gallery be one of those? Come April 21, we’ll find out. But on the evidence of the incredible show roster, it’s off to a very promising start.

Graffuturism show in Scotland


Redcoat Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland has a show opening on July 1st called Rudimentary Perfection. This show will be the first show specifically focused on “graffuturism,” a style of modern graffiti promoted by the Graffuturism blog. If you’ve ever felt that graffiti is at a bit of a standstill (rack spray paint, write name, repeat), graffuturism may be the sort of post-graffiti that you’ve been waiting for. Rudimentary Perfection includes She One, Duncan Jago, Jaybo Monk, Matt W. Moore, Augustine Kofie, Nawer, Morten Andersen, Poesia, Derm, and Mark Lyken. These artists have a modern take on graffiti, often most closely associated with Futura’s abstract work, if you need to tie it to traditional graffiti.

Photo courtesy of Graffuturism