A huge fan of Middle Eastern calligraphy and modern graffiti, I found much to love at Calligraffiti: 1984-2013 at the Leila Heller Gallery. And, not surprisingly, among my favorite works were those by artists with strong roots in graffiti who are — or who have been — active on the streets. Here’s a sampling:
Tonight is opening night for Calligraffiti: 1984-2013 at the Leila Heller Gallery. The show is interesting for two reasons:
It examines connections between graffiti and calligraphy at a fancy gallery. Seriously though, this should be really fascinating. There will be work by El Seed, L’ATLAS, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, LA2, ROSTARR, Niels “Shoe” Meulman, Ramellzee and many more artists (including many with no history on the street or with graffiti, but rather with feet firmly rooted in more traditional modern and contemporary art).
It marks the return of Jeffrey Deitch to New York City, basically. He didn’t curate the show, but he did curate a version of the show at the same gallery back in 1984, and the New York Times reports “Mr. Deitch served as Ms. Heller’s sounding board” for this version of the show. Deitch recently resigned as Director at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles after growing the museum’s endowment from under $10 million to almost $100 million, although it seems as though he is staying on at the museum just a little while longer, through the completion of that goal of reaching a $100 million endowment and the process of finding a new Director.
I met Marianne Nems back in June at the East Village’s Dorian Grey Gallery, where she introduced me to the impassioned work of French graffiti artist, Ugly Kid Gumo. For the next three days, Marianne will be at the Fountain Art Fair, 2505 North Miami Ave. @ 25th St. exhibiting work by Ugly Kid Gumo and others. Among the images that she shared, I’m particularly intrigued by the artwork of Benoit Debbane, the Lebanese painter whose work first surfaced on the walls of Beirut in the 1990’s. Another highlight are new works by Angel Ortiz aka LA2, who recently graced New York City’s East Village with a huge mural.
In late winter a number of Keith Haring-like images began to surface on the streets of the Lower East Side. I should have immediately recognized them as the work of Angel Ortiz (Little Angel aka LA ll), the main inspiration behind much of Keith Haring’s art. But I didn’t. Whereas Keith Haring is regarded as one of the key artists of the 20th century, LA ll is just now on his way to attaining the respect and recognition he deserves. Deemed as Keith Haring’s “silent partner,” LA ll collaborated with and traveled alongside him for about 10 years, profoundly impacting Haring’s style and sensibility. A solo exhibition of LA ll’s recent paintings is at the Dorian Grey Gallery at 437 E. 9th Street through April 17. It’s worth a visit.