Happy new year! Between snow in NYC and the general slowness around this time of year, not much going on this week. Here’s a bit of what I’ve been enjoying though:
Over on Hyperallergic, Hrag has an interesting review of Faile’s Perry Rubenstein show (now closed). He argues that they are great sculpture and so-so painters. If you agree with Hrag, it adds to the argument that Faile are essentially good designers/businessmen since they still make paintings which probably sell better than sculptures. I never had a chance to see the show in person, but I liked the photos I saw of the paintings. Of course, Faile’s best artwork from 2010 was that temple sculpture in Lisbon.
I think it’s fair to say that D*face is “against” advertising, or at the very least that his critique of it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. I would also say that D*face has been, throughout his career, very good at subverting advertising, media and pop culture. Yet, there’s something about D*faces work that doesn’t subvert advertising at all. In fact, in some ways, D*face’s art embraces advertising. Like Shepard Fairey (one of D*face’s major influences), D*face has an “icon” or a “logo” of his own. The d*dog or elements of the d*dog appear throughout his work, as does D*face’s own name. So is D*face advertising himself by subverting advertising? Certainly. Is that his intent? I’m not sure. And if it is, it’s worth mentioning the standard argument defending that: (except for Shepard Fairey who has teams of wheatpasters) an individual artist doesn’t have the resources to advertise themselves on anywhere near the scale that a brand like Coke can advertise and the artist is putting up art while advertisers are solely trying to sell a product. Additionally, D*face’s use of a logo has probably helped him to become the success he is today, which in turn allows him to do crazy projects like this and increase awareness for his agenda of getting people to question advertising and mass media.
For those familiar with Adbusters, this paradox might be familiar. The Adbusters organization sells shoes which are essentially made in opposition to Converse and branded shoes made in sweatshops, but by creating an anti-brand, they have created their own shoe brand.
Jordan Seiler, like D*face, is known for billboard takeovers but also for his efforts to change/eliminate advertising in the public space. In addition to his own art, Jordan organized NYSAT and TOSAT. Throughout his outdoor art career, Jordan’s style has changed more drastically than the average street artist. While there are a few reoccurring motifs (like a use of simple geometric patterns and shapes), each project is very distinct and it would be hard for me to define a specific style for Jordan (unless doing ad takeovers is itself a style). Additionally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jordan sign his outdoor work. Recently, Jordan has been preparing to retire one of the designs that he has used for a while now and is starting to become identified by, his Weave It design.
On his blog, Jordan recently explained that he was finishing up the Weave It project (as he had ended projects previously before they became “iconic”) “in order to remained un-branded as an artist and therefor escape criticism that I use the streets and advertising venues as advertising for myself.” Two days later, Jordan restated his feelings in another post. Once again, Jordan said that he is moving on from the design in an effort to “prevent branding of PublicAdCampaign imagery.”
To most street artists, changing their style regularly and actively trying to avoid any identifiable trademarks might seem like a novel and counter-intuitive idea, but Jordan seems to be sacrificing potential short-term artist notoriety for his long-term political aims. The flip-side of this strategy is that a lot of Jordan’s art isn’t immediately obvious as an advertising takeover. Most of the takeovers don’t scream out “I am here instead of an advertisement,” so the art can easily be ignored or even possibly confused as some sort of guerrilla marketing campaign. While D*face’s artwork makes itself obvious and forces people to re-examine the world we live in, perhaps Jordan’s more subtle techniques cause the art and the action he has taken to be overlooked (although, and I’m not sure about this, he might argue that that’s sort of the point in some cases).
I emailed briefly with Jordan and he clarified his position on using logos in art. Surprisingly, he said “My thoughts on logo reproduction in street art and ad takeovers are not as idealistic as that which I practice” and he actually doesn’t believe that street artists shouldn’t use logos, just that “I choose to go as far as I can from logo production and stylistic similarities (which I can often fail at) mostly because I choose only to hit ads and therefore am under even higher scrutiny when being asked if my work is self promotional.”
So whose work to you think is more effective? Let me know in the comments.
I’m guessing that with college only getting busier (although, as Stickboy pointed out on Twitter, freshman year isn’t exactly the busiest), I think I’ll finally have to resort to a semi-weekly link post. So Things to look at this weekend… will probably become a weekly feature on Vandalog (but maybe with more exciting name). So here’s what I’ve been reading recently:
Street Art: Contemporary Prints from the V&A is pretty much what the surprising title says. Turns out, the V&A museum has a pretty solid collection of urban art prints by artists like Swoon, D*Face and Blek le Rat. This show opens at a museum in Coventry, England on October 9th and UK Street Art has more info.
Tristan Manco‘s latest book, Street Sketchbook: Journeys, will be released at the end of September. Tristan is one of the people that I most respect in the street art community. Besides curating Cans Festival, he has been writing quality street art books for about a decade. He probably knows more about the artists he is writing about than just about anyone else, but he keeps everything accessible to a mass audience. Originally, I was skeptical of the concept of this book, but I’ve since been convinced that it will be at least worth checking out, and will probably be the best street art book of the year in terms of mass appeal (although other books will likely top it for street art fanatics). For me, the most exciting part of this book is going to be the exhibition that Tristan is curating at Pictures on Walls for next month. You’ll probably hear more about it on Vandalog in the coming weeks, but basically all the artists from his new book will be in the show. WallKandy has more info.
Bast has a solo show at Lazarides’ Rathbone Place. Most day’s I’m pretty indifferent to Bast indoors (credit to him for always getting up though), but I’m liking some of this work, and the Bast fans I’ve spoken with think this is some of his best work yet. Arrested Motion has photos.
It’s not a new idea and this video has been appearing all across the web, but if you haven’t checked out this “birds as CCTVs” project yet, it’s about time you do. I ignored it at first because I thought the idea was tired, but this version brings the idea to new levels and the video is very well-made.
One of my favorite art blogs is Street Art is Dead. If you haven’t read it before, it’s basically a no-holds-barred street art blog. Basically, I guess the writer of the blog is anonymous or just really doesn’t care what people think, so he/she really says it like it is and reveals juicy tidbits of gossip before anybody else. Today I want to link to two recent posts from Street Art is Dead. This one , on a topic that will not be discussed on Vandalog because I don’t want to play into the hype-machine, and this 100%-spot-on post about the latest Dolk prints and SPQR’s upcoming show at Signal Gallery. SAiD took the words right out of my mouth about SPQR and Dolk before I could post that here.
Finally we have pictures from the Stolenspace “Summer Group Show” in London last Thursday. Not only was the event jam packed, but the original works were incredible. Below are just some of the photos from the opening, but you can visit Stolenspace to see all the pieces in the exhibit. Personally, I am really loving “Taking the Mickey” print by WordtoMother, O_scar (Beauty is Only Skin Deep) by D*Face, and “Rose” by Paul Alexander Thorton. I just wish I had the opportunity to see many of these works in person, unlike RJ, who did. Jealous.
Since graduating college a few months ago, I have been forced to find other ways to pregame on the weekends other than a recurring bad romance with Natural Light and terrible displays of beirut. Now that I am an official adult, going to art openings to see some fantastic art and gulping down the free beer is a pretty appealing alternative. I always look forward to the shows in the Summer time because so many people go to galleries on opening night (for the booze) that the shows seem to be featuring their highest caliber artists. Or maybe I just think so because I am five feet tall and feeling woozy after a beer.
On July 1st, Stolenspace in London will be opening their Summer group show featuring some of the biggest names in the game. When I hear “group show,” my mind jumps to art school end of the year culminations that exhibit an eclectic array of amateur art. This show, however, is too cool for school. Shepard Fairey, Wordtomother, D*Face, Kid Acne, Mr. Jago, Cyclops will have works hanging alongside artists (Miss Van, The London Police, and Chloe Early) who had solo shows at the gallery this past year.
Sadly, I still will not be in London until mid-August and will miss the entire show. I swear some higher power does not want me to see Miss Van’s art in person. Sigh
I’m sure I’ve said before how much I like it when people bring good street art to cities that don’t normally get to see much street art. Well My Addiction Gallery is a new gallery in Tucson, Arizona and they are going to specialize in urban art. I’ve been emailing with the owner of My Addiction Gallery for a while now, so it’s exciting to see the gallery develop from a vague idea into an actual physical space and an event. My Addiction Gallery’s first show, God Save The Streets: US vs. UK, opens on Saturday.
My Addiction Gallery’s inaugural exhibition, “God Save the Streets,” offers several examples of street and urban contemporary art from England and the United States, two countries that have played key roles in the development of this style. Prints and originals by artists of both nations pose some intriguing questions about the ways in which people from different countries communicate the importance of their individual cultures. This exhibition aims to familiarize viewers with the diverse artistic and contextual styles of British and American culture as well as how they critique one another through the use of relevant social and political content. The exploration of these topics aptly calls attention to the relationship between American and British street and urban contemporary art, both visually and culturally, and the signifiers of cultural identity found in these works are certainly not to be missed.
My Addiction Gallery
439 N Sixth Ave Suite 159
Tucson AZ 85705
D*face, London’s king of stickering and billboard taker-overs, has designed the album cover for Christina Aguilera’s upcoming album, Bionic. Not that I’m about to go and buy the album, but the cover certainly looks great. D*face is a great designer, which I believe was his job before he went into art.
How did this happen? Aguilera has been a collector of D*face’s artwork for years.
Well the Oscars were Sunday night, and two good things came out of them: 1. Avatar didn’t win best picture, and 2. D*Face put some new statues in LA. D*Face made two 7-foot tall modified Oscars and put one outside of Mel’s Drive-In and the other in Runyon Canyon Park.
Personally, I think the giant Oscars are a bit much, but I love this regular-sized one. D*face aught to send them to all the actual Oscar winners.
Anybody looking for a free D*Face print? Look no further. Vandalog has one special edition of Very Nearly Almost issue #10 to give away. But more on that in a second.
Frankly, VNA is my favorite art magazine (yes, I like Juxtapoz, but it rarely beats VNA), in part because they get better with every issue. Issue 10 is a real milestone issue for VNA. There are the usual photos of street art in London and around the world, interviews with Shok1, D*face, Dalek and more, and other bits like product reviews. Basically, it’s the usual great mag for a price of just £4.
And about that D*face print…
VNA did a special promotion with D*Face for this issue. He designed the cover, and at the launch party they had a special edition of 150 screenprinted covers available. They also made just a few of those covers in a blue colorway (as seen above). That’s what I’ve got sitting on my desk right now, and it’s available for one lucky Vandalog reader who can answer this question: In what American state did D*face recently paint the “Ridiculous Pool”? Just email your answer to rj(a-t)vandalog(dot)com before Tuesday the 26th at 4pm London time. I’ll randomly select a winner from the people who answer correctly. This is a pretty unique opportunity, because only a few of these blue covers were printed, and they aren’t available for sale anywhere.
Oh, and if you don’t know about the Ridiculous Pool, here it is:
You can buy Very Nearly Almost in store or online.
ukadapta have organized a group show in Tokyo that opens this week. Should be good. The line up is a varied of British urban art with Best Ever, D*face, Word to Mother, Luc Price/Cyclops, Matt Small and more.
More info from ukadapta:
Adapta Gallery’s third curated project will be held on November 12th – November 29th 2009, with a show in Tokyo called Close Encounters.The show consists of 8 British-based artists, including Best Ever, Cyclops, D*Face, David Bray, Matt Small, Sickboy, Word To Mother and Vesna Parchet.
The variety of work on show is eclectic, and that is precisely the reason why we chose them in the first place. From D*Face’s two-dimensional graphic art to the rich textures of emerging artist Vesna Parchet’s styled character-based paintings, a plethora of mediums, emotions and messages are employed for the viewer to digest.
This particular show is very close to our hearts as we are finally able to put together an amazing line up of artists to produce works for our Tokyo readers and Japanese collectors to see in person. We have been interviewing and working on projects with so many talented British creatives over the years and to finally curate our own show in Tokyo for our main audience is a true honour.
On the opening night, we will also have special guests: Usugrow, Jeff Soto, Shohei Takasaki, Yoshiki & Nagayama also showing their works.
Exhibition venue : Time Out Gallery, Liquidroom 2/F, 3-16-6, Higashi, Shibuya-ku,Tokyo