Bigindicator

20140828104514-p1050876
by Laura Havlin

Manchester - Buy a print from a rising artist and still have change for a pint: at Common Bar, the venue and bar central to Manchester’s creative scene. Situated at the beating heart of Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter—an area where a Banksy has been lovingly preserved with a Perspex box (only for that to be covered in stickers and fresh street art), Space Invader aliens loom over you from the red brick of buildings, and Manchester heroes (including the city’s own appointed Creative Director, the famed graphic designer Peter Saville) are immortalised in mosaic on the side of the iconic Afflecks Palace—Common Bar aims to counter the tendency to reminisce about glories gone by, by dedicating the walls of its bright and vibrant bar to the artwork of an impressive roll-call of local, national and international artists. Iwan Roberts and Duncan Sime, the creative forces behind the art and events at Common Bar tell ArtSlant STREET about their unique proposition: “When Common opened its doors back in December 2004, starting out with quite plain walls, someone questioned if their bar was actually finished,” says Sime, adding, “But I think that was its intention, to showcase some of the best art around using its blank walls as a huge canvas.” The very first exhibition was a collaboration between Guy Mckinley, Matt Sewell and Lynsey Casson. Common now has three exhibition spaces and has gone on to showcase work from Dot The Eyes, Superdead, Jim Medway, Rob Bailey, Ruse, Matt Sewell, Paul Hemmingfield, Guy Mckinley, Chris Gray, Zoe Byrne, Roy McCarthy, Dr Me, Savwo, John Butcher, Nick Robertson, Rabbit Portal, Jon Burgerman, Ghost Patrol, Pin, David Bailey, Lows Bors, Mr Gauky, DXTR, Mr Penfold, Adam Mead, Kristian Jones, Steve Hockett, Teacake, Text Book, Caroline Dowsett, Alex T Frazer and many more. “In the past most of it has been about artists from in and around Manchester; it then slowly extended its way around the North West,” explains Sime. “We have now hosted artist work from Berlin, New York and London, to name but a few. We are always looking at extending our artistic circle, that's what it's about isn't it?” “My personal favourite pieces of work are [by] 'Billy/Alex' a great artist from Berlin—she is such a pleasure to work with; her work is super bright and cheerful—and of course Rob Bailey's current exhibition, although I am quite glad we have completed his trilogy of work, if we have to work together again we may kill each other—worth it though, looking at the work,” he adds. Rather than just static decoration, the work featured at Common Bar is changed regularly, and since it is more often than not painted directly onto the walls as murals as opposed to confined to a series of frames, has the effect of completely altering the overall feel and ambiance of the venue each time. “It can go from 1000s of A4 pieces of pasted riso up on our wall to a big tree right in the middle of the bar,” says Roberts. "It’s a beautiful thing.” “Because anyone can hang pictures on a wall, most venues don't really think much about the process of putting art on the walls; we like to push boundaries and each other,” says Sime. “Common is an integral part of the Northern Quarter and as part of that we represent the creative and artistic side of this through our exhibitions. We hope that the work we put in attracts the right people and this is what a lot of the business is based upon: nice people in a nice bar.” “I think we see a lot of needless work up on walls in various venues in Manchester,” offers Roberts. “And a lot of these are put up without any thought on space and how the space can benefit the work. We are fortunate to have a great pool of artists, designers, musicians, etc. in Manchester and beyond. We never struggle to find talent, although we struggle to find the energy and time to shine a light on all of them." Where the exhibition does comprise prints and framed one-offs, customers are able to support the artists by buying some of the work at an affordable price point. “I’d like to think that people can buy a piece and still have change left over for a pint,” says Roberts. “The medium most of the artists use (risograph, screen printing) lends itself to making the work affordable. We’ve displayed paintings prior and they’ve done well, especially Chris Drury’s show—he did really well. You often see many painted canvases in a few establishments with mind blowing price tags and most of the work is often pants and out of place. It's cool that people can come to Common see a £20 limited-edition screen print and buy it. I have about eight John Powell Jones originals, six Steve Hocketts, countless Dave Baileys all up in the house because everything is so accessible. It’s cool that we can make all these amazing artists' work so easy to take home with you.” Common, 9 Edge St, Manchester, Greater Manchester M4 1HW http://www.aplacecalledcommon.co.uk —Laura Havlin Read-more-graphic-0c90fea6dc5d183f7daca739bdcd0f1f
20140823103908-riot-cops
by Howie Stier

Q&A - In a week when the world roiled—when rockets rained on Israel and Israeli troops let loose into the Palestinian territory of Gaza, and when, as if the world stage were in fact a formulaic three-act Hollywood action blockbuster, a civilian jetliner blasted into oblivion over Ukraine leaving an incredulous global audience gasping for the credits to roll—Abby Martin, a Russia Today (RT) TV host, immersed in this hell-broke-loose cluster-fuck of a news week, ended it by stepping away into the art world. Namely, into the haven of a Washington D.C gallery where her intimate, jewel-box like graphic paintings are getting the exposure they merit. The five works on paper—now part of the summer group show at Randall Scott Projects in Northeast D.C—describe an inner experience, a voyage recounted in precise lapidary lines and a Jungian field-day of symbols, each a horror vacui composition that echoes the intensity Martin delivers on her news show (Breaking the Set). Having never spoken at length about her art work, Martin eagerly shared insights into her motivation and process with Artslant STREET, talking on the phone from Washington D.C . “It started off as catharsis—a visual diary that I can’t display through language,” said Martin, explaining how she began painting a decade back. “People just see this firey person who is pissed off all the time, but I’m inspired by nature, abstract imagery, different cultures. My painting goes along with my way of looking at the world—that’s what I’m trying to encapsulate in these pieces.” Abby Martin, Festival of Earth, 2014, 6.5x7”, Collage, paint pen, on panel; Courtesy of the artist A dizzying variety of figurative images appear in Festival of Earth (2014), one of the smallest pieces in the show; from an ornamented elephant to a tiny-hatted creature that may have playfully popped out of the trippy Mr. Do! arcade game circa 1980, it keeps the eye roaming in a vortex around the composition. “I love Alex Gray, and Andy Goldsworthy I’m infatuated with, and I follow a lot of Juxtapoz, low-brow art,” confides Martin, speaking of her varied artistic influences, and the whole pronounced aesthetic presence evokes the psych art of another generation. One can see elements, for example, of a psych rock album I pull out of my record bin—1968’s St. John Green—with its swirling cosmic dragon cover art, as well as the shaman drawings of Graham Hancock, the ayahuasca-eating journalist with a penchant for tripping balls. Martin uses paint pens, “pound[ing them] into paper until they burst,” and while crafting these paintings she generates a rhythm that for her is therapeutic. “I start looking for images, thumb through magazines, National Geographics, cut out images and put them in different themes and colored schemes. Then [while painting] OCD goes into full effect. I obsess over the perfection, every dot has to be perfect, dozens of hours, twenty layers…” Abby Martin, Ganesha-Nagarani, 2014, 8x7”, Collage, paint pen on panel; Courtesy of the artist Though her recent painting is highly ornamental, another strain of Martin’s graphic output is overtly political. In work distinct from the pieces showing at Randall Scott displayed on her online portfolio, Martin avers the convictions of the Occupy movement, from which she first emerged as a blogger. “Before I did Breaking the Set I did more political work, but now since the show is so time consuming, it’s a team effort, but I’m constantly writing, editing, researching, booking guests—my choice is not to have politics as the focus of my work.” But, Martin says, a return to this style is likely in the future. Cultural manifestations of the Occupy movement continue to be seen as street art across the globe, with work directly addressing issues of wealth inequality, United States militarism and corporate hegemony; those concerns too inform Martin’s paintings such as Killing Hope. Not in a dull, ironic, agit-prop style so played out (as in the recent Shep Fairey/Ernesto Yerena immigration piece, for example) but in a quaintly wistful return to the art of another generation. Her painting I Pledge to Empire, an American flag emblazoned with skulls and swastikas, evokes protest banners I saw at the Rock Against Racism/Reagan Central Park hardcore show in 1984. But that’s the year Martin was born. Abby Martin, BP'S HOLOCAUST OF SEA CREATURES; Courtesy of the artist An acrylic painting, Killing Hope, denounces President Barack Obama for branding his election campaign and buying propaganda—ie. collaborating with Shepard Fairey, perpetrator of the “Hope” image, which was to play a role in garnering the youth vote. “I’ve spoken about this [on TV] and I think it’s completely bizarre: he created this propaganda symbol, but he’s said he’s disappointed and I give him props for that.” Abby Martin, SKULL-EXPLODING; Courtesy of the artist An intense, desperate work, Breathe and Try Not Die, can easily be read as what Occupy activist and author Chris Hedges theorizes is the corporate agenda to manifest a sense of hopelessness, and acquiesecence. It is anything but, explains Martin. “It points to times when there’s an overwhelming sense that life doesn’t make sense,” spurred, she says, by a dark period in her life. “It’s an encouragement to work through it. You have to breathe, and take it slow.” Martin not only maintains a street art sensibility in the economy of materials she uses but in the attitude she holds towards fine art. Her talk turns to galleries and art academies, then she takes the art world down in a breathless ground and pound: “Art, for me, real art, is such a labor of love and your soul is poured in, so when I see work that is completely bland, that says nothing, and hear those who pontificate about how profound their art is? I think that whole gallery scene is bullshit and a lot of the art is a lot of shit. It seems very elitist to me and very exclusionary and that’s why I believe a lot of people react negatively; they get convinced they shouldn’t pick up a pencil or a paintbrush. But if art can bring people joy and inspiration and also have them think, if it speaks to them—like my Nazi flag [I Pledge to Empire] I’m making it that obvious, very extreme very over the top—if it can create a dialogue than I’ve succeeded.” Abby Martin, CRISIS OF CIVILIZATION; Courtesy of the artist While living in a communal art house in San Diego, Martin collaborated on a wall painting adorning a raw food restaurant. “I have the greatest respect for people that do mural work,” she said, recounting how she worked aside Canadian graffiti writer BIRD on one giant mural installation, “and it was the most amazing thing I’ve done, and I would love to do that more.” And as there’s nothing worse than half-finished novels and artists with unresolved visions hampered by time and expense, let me put out the call: we can bypass the mundane Kickstarter thing; someone rack the paint and get this artist a wall. Her sketchbook sized paintings grown into a larger-than-life scale—that’s a world I would want to walk into. —Howie Stier (Image on top: Abby Martin, RIOT-COPS; Courtesy of the artist) Read-more-graphic-0c90fea6dc5d183f7daca739bdcd0f1f
20140823154115-top_image
by Natalie Hegert

NuArt Festival
Norway - I’ve been doing a bit of studying up lately. So far I’ve learned that the rules concerning the sale of alcohol in Norway rival those I’ve encountered in Utah: not available on Sundays, or after 6pm most days; for some reason there’s a couple of days in May that are totally off-limits; oh and supermarkets only sell beer that’s 2.5% alcohol (worse than Utah’s 3.2!), for the stronger stuff you’ve got to go to someplace called Vinmonopolet (I’d venture a guess that literally means “wine monopoly”), which is a state-run non-profit organization. And of course if you buy a beer at a bar, it will likely set you back around $13. Can’t be easy to be an alcoholic in Norway! Seems like I’ll be nursing that beer all night.[1] I’ve undertaken this research because I’m headed to Norway, to Stavanger, for this year’s Nuart Festival, featuring artists like Tilt, Martin Whatson, Icy & Sot, Borondo, dotdotdot, Mathieu Tremblin, Maismenos, M-City, Levalet, Spy, Etam Cru, Andreco, fra.biancoshock, and others who will be painting the town red… and blue, and black, and yellow… I’m happy to announce that I will be representing ArtSlant for Nuart Plus (September 4-6), where I will be joining the likes of RJ Rushmore of Vandalog, Carlo McCormick, Evan Pricco of Juxtapoz, Brooklyn Street Art’s Steve Harrington and Jaime Rojo, to discuss the state of the art, the rise of muralism and street art’s activist roots. You can find the schedule of talks here. And take a look at the epic teaser video Nuart just released a few days ago: NUART FESTIVAL 2014. PROMO from NUART on Vimeo. You can also read our report from last year, by Jonathan Roze. Now, back to my research, where I am—likely unnecessarily—trying to master a few Norwegian phrases... See you in Stavanger! [1] But not likely during this, which I’m heartily looking forward to: Fight Club. —Natalie Hegert (All images: Courtesy of NuArt Festival) Read-more-graphic-0c90fea6dc5d183f7daca739bdcd0f1f
20140820110646-01
by Natalie Hegert

Los Angeles - Los Angeles, California is synonymous with car culture. From lowriders to hot rods, Woodies and Super Deluxes, customized historic cars are a commonplace sighting on the streets of LA. At the height of the movement in the 1970s, the historic locus of the lowrider cruise was Whittier Boulevard, and throughout the city of Whittier one can see signs of this cultural heritage. Newly local to the area, I checked out the 14th Annual Uptown Whittier Car Show on August 16. Greenleaf Ave bustled with locals, car aficionados and their families, regarding the rows of automobiles-turned-art-objects lining the street, while a panel of judges appraised the contestants of the Calendar Girl Competition, a row of barbers gave haircuts en plein air to customers seated in vintage barber’s chairs, and a constant stream of people circled through the Lowdown in Uptown boutique to check out their lowrider-inspired art show. The car show is open to any classic car (all makes and models 1979 and earlier), and the variety was astounding. Shiny or matte, polished or rusted, built up or stripped down, ornamented or strikingly unadorned, each car clearly reflected the personality of its owner. Details and accessories abounded, historically accurate or whimsically eccentric, all meant to enhance the aesthetic vision of the car; in some cases the absence of details served the same purpose, for instance in the removal of door handles so as not to interrupt the smooth line of the car’s body (known as a “shaved” look). There were cars so low to the ground they resembled panthers in repose, resting on their haunches, ever ready to pounce. Cars like mid-century visions of the future, all bubbly curves and cartoonish grills. Quirky VW Beetles, replete with vintage surfboards on the roof rack. Cars with teeth. Pinstripe masterpieces. Fins for days. It’s quite clear that the pursuit of the perfect car is an art form unto itself. —Natalie Hegert (All images: Courtesy of the author) Read-more-graphic-0c90fea6dc5d183f7daca739bdcd0f1f
20140820071425-tilt
by Lori Zimmer

Pera Museum
Istanbul - Graffiti and Street Art in a museum setting have a new audience, at the Pera Museum in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul. Curated by the museum’s Roxane Ayral, “Language of the Wall” is the first exhibition of its kind in Turkey to bring graffiti indoors in an academic setting, taking over three floors of the private museum. For its introduction, Ayral has chosen an impressive roster of international artists as well as familiar locals to educate the Istanbul art connoisseur, including Futura, Carlos Mare, Cope2, Turbo, Wyne, JonOne, Tilt, Mist, Psyckoze, Craig Costello (aka KR), Herakut, Logan Hicks, C215, Suiko, Evol, Gaia, Tabone, Funk and No More Lies, plus photographs from the archives of Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant and Hugh Holland. Along with the museum exhibition, Ayral has extended her street art lesson into the city proper, bringing murals by most of the artists to legal walls in neighborhoods scattered across Istanbul. Being a relatively new movement in terms of art history and recognized by the art market in terms of monetary value only recently, street art has progressed in a sense; yet this attention and acceptance has come at the dismay of some graffiti purists, who find work done in the studio or on canvas to lack the authenticity or spirit that street pieces have. With this in mind, Ayral chose to set “Language of the Wall” apart from other museum shows. Instead of presenting each artist’s studio work, she has turned over the museum itself, having each artist create a site-specific work directly on the walls. The effect is less stoic than a traditional show of rows of canvases inside a white cube; it brings the viewer face to face with each artist, each mural dwarfing the visitor into an immersive experience with each piece. Being that Istanbul and the Pera Museum are late to the game, perhaps Ayral learned from the mistakes of exhibitions already past. But either way, her choice to use the pristine private museum walls itself as a giant canvas sets “Language of the Wall” apart from being “just another street art exhibition.” Mist; Courtesy of the artist and Pera Museum At this scale, and without the confines of the distance between the viewer and the canvas, visitors can examine the detail and work that goes beyond just tagging. For example, stencil artist Logan Hicks’ pieces for the show enable a better understanding of his intricate and painstaking process by allowing visitors to go nose to nose with his multi-stencil layer murals – which are unusually crisp on the museum’s carefully gessoed wall, rather than a textured wall of the streets. The same goes for C215, whose multi-layered portaits of his daughter Nina are accompanied by a film about the artist’s journey from painting illegally to using his art for social justice. French artist Tilt brought his own bus to the Pera, installing the bisected vehicle directly on the wall before creating his masterpiece. It is hard to believe that Mist’s enormous abstract wall, which shows a trompe l’oeil of highly magnified spray lines, was painted with spray cans. In this multi-colored mural, the artist has shown his expert can control, with precise, purposeful lines and edges. British duo Herakut’s piece is an immersive environment, adding cardboard, photography, neon and drawing to their iconic figurative renders to create a powerful installation that pays tribute to the origins of street art (including a distorted photograph of the artists with New York icon Futura, which appears as an upsidedown metal pot on the head of the main figure). This piece is a stand out in an already impressive show, showing Herakut’s abilities to add more layers to their powerful work in a gallery setting. Futura’s piece itself seeps into Herakut’s installation, before it blooms into the artist’s signature abstraction in bold red, black and white. Another artist evolving beyond painting is Carlos Mare, aka Mare139. Mare has taken inspiration from his early days of painting New York City subway cars in the 1980s to the third dimension, translating the loose stylistic loops of tagging into abstract swirls of curved metal. The hanging sculptures have the curvaceous characteristics of a graffiti tag, giving them the appearance of being lightweight, even though they are made from layers of different textured metals. The resulting sculptures can be read as both abstract and having graffiti origins, changeable by the context in which they are presented. Logan Hicks, Courtesy of the artist and Pera Museum To accompany these freshly painted site-specific pieces (and to give breadth to the education process) are documentary photographs by Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant and Hugh Holland, who captured the iconic beginnings of graffiti culture in the 1980s. “Language of the Walls” may gain attention as being Istanbul’s first exhibition on graffiti and street art, but it holds its own, too, as an extensive and experiential exhibition of the medium. —Lori Zimmer (Image on top: Tilt; Courtesy of the artist and Pera Museum) Read-more-graphic-0c90fea6dc5d183f7daca739bdcd0f1f
20140819222042-pose_honey_l
by Matthew Keeshin

Jonathan LeVine Gallery - 557C West 23rd
New York - People say galleries get slow in the summer in New York, but there is nothing lacklustre or mundane about the group exhibition Cruel Summer at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery. Curated by collector and graffiti historian Roger Gastman, the exhibition’s title is derived from the popular song featured in the original Karate Kid film by Bananarama. The music video portrays the three female band members causing trouble and dancing throughout New York City – including a Dukes of Hazard-esque car chase that involves throwing bananas at the police. Overall the show is inspired by that summer of 1984 – Gastman also mentions the first Macintosh personal computer and the Olympics as influences. With this exhibition, he successfully captures that same energy he felt in 1984. Featuring the work of over 20 international artists, the exhibition brings together all the excitement and colors of that summer, without looking dated. Dabs Myla, Orange Blossom, acrylic on cradled wood panel; Courtesy of the Artist and Jonathan LeVine Gallery The exhibition fills up both of Jonathan LeVine’s gallery locations. In particular, the 23rd Street gallery features large-scale installations by Dabs Myla, a married artist duo. Originally from Melbourne, the couple’s work narrates their life together. The installation is an assortment of walls painted by the artists and the various works together tell a story: paintings feature their signature style and reveal their inspirations and love for traveling, graffiti, and food: translating on the various chosen canvases as dancing hotdogs, cartoon cigarettes and other personified animals. It’s like reading a comic book but instead of frames, the characters jump from painting to vases and onto the walls of the gallery. The couple’s collaborative style contrasts nicely with mixed-media collages by Shepard Fairey and drawings by Parisian artist Horfe, who also derives inspiration from animations, with quite different but equally dynamic results. Installation view, Courtesy of Jonathan LeVine Gallery Many of the artists in the exhibition grew up in the 1980's or 1990's, while others were already writing graffiti – such as the legendary Blade and Eric Haze. Niagara’s femme fatales speak to the chaos caused in the video of Bananarama, running amok in New York. The exhibition connects thus two generations of graffiti writers and street artists. Encompassing sculpture, textiles, illustration, and collage, it also reveals the many different practices that continue to expand the definition of street art. In the 20th Street gallery, the Ben Venom hand-made quilt, entitled All The Aces, welcomes visitors when they first step into the space. Using recycled fabric, the typically delicate art of quilt making is juxtaposed with a roaring tiger head centered in a spider web. Decorated with knives, dice, severed hands, and even a grenade, the quilt is one great example of what Jonathan LeVine Gallery does best: it’s all in the surprise elements. Cruel Summer is a moment to explore how an era informed, influenced and produced these artists and how it continues to inspire their practices today. Installation view, Courtesy of Jonathan LeVine Gallery —Matthew Keeshin (Image on top: Pose, Honey, acrylic, spray paint and paper on Clayboard panel, 48 x 36 inches (121.92 x 91.44 cm)) Read-more-graphic-0c90fea6dc5d183f7daca739bdcd0f1f
20140819221002-ahol-photoshoot
by Monica Torres

News - Graffiti art that graces city walls stands resolutely apart from other forms of art: it can’t be purchased, owned and moved into a gallery or private home like a canvased painting (usually). As part of a city’s public landscape, graffiti art belongs to everybody and nobody – just like the streets they adorn. But, many images sketched along the walls of neighborhoods, such as Miami’s Wynwood area, are original creations, conceived by some of the world’s most prominent artists like Shepard Fairey, Retna, Anthony Lister – and locals like Ahol Sniffs Glue. Although the paintings are for public pleasure, it is clear they do belong to someone, for they are signed with claim of their originator. Having an elementary understanding of American copyright laws, unspoken street laws and, well, basic decency, it is common sense that reproducing one of these works to promote a private enterprise without asking the artist (its true owner) for permission is just wrong. So how is it that a corporate giant, who one assumes has intelligent people running its advertising campaigns, didn’t exhibit such common sense? Last March, American Eagle Outfitters came to Wynwood to shoot a campaign for their summer clothing line. The teen atelier took photographs of models along the world-famous art-filled concrete landscape. But the company went too far. They took one particular mural – “Ocean Glass” by local Cuban-American street artist Ahol Sniffs Glue – and used it to promote their brand, without consulting him first. Ahol’s characteristic sleepy eyeball design was used in advertisements on the company’s website, social media pages, billboards, and store displays. Moreover, the clothing conglomerate hired “artists” to “recreate” Ahol’s mural on an eight-foot store display in Medellin, Colombia. The imitators marked a sloppy reproduction of “Ocean Glass” with the corporation’s signature black eagle, claiming ownership over Ahol’s optic, azure design. So, Ahol Sniffs Glue, a.k.a David Anasagasti, is now suing American Eagle Outfitters for copyright infringement, and rightly so. By splashing their label across the artist’s signature work, AEO has “essentially incorporated Mr. Anasagasti’s artwork into [their] own brand identity,” the lawsuit alleges. The suit seeks not only monetary compensation for the works that have been used, but also a permanent injunction that would prohibit the company from using photos or likenesses of the work in the future. To corporations like American Eagle Outfitters, perhaps it will set a precedent and ensure that artists like Ahol Sniffs Glue are protected from this kind of inexcusable theft. —Monica Torres (All images: Courtesy of the author) Read-more-graphic-0c90fea6dc5d183f7daca739bdcd0f1f
20140819040908-photo_4
by Charlotte Jansen

Q&A - Your background is in Fine Art – how have you developed your style back in London and how has it changed? I studied classical oil painting in Italy for four years and I came back to London around seven years ago. I have always moved around in my work and gone through phases, and Italy in a way felt like another artistic experiment, but the technique we learnt in the studio was from the 19th century, and the sheer discipline of it was a big shock when I first arrived. I had never spent more than one day on a piece let alone three weeks. But I soon got into it. It provided me with a thorough training, and we started by drawing casts of Greek and Roman statues, then moving to real people, then from charcoals to oil paint. When I came back to London I found it harder than I had before to make hard, sharp lines, to create graphic images but also include midtones and shading, and the balance is something I still struggle with at times. I look at Picasso's etchings and he really had that balance. Nearly all of my work is figurative but I often use landscapes or interiors to exaggerate perspective, and faces are a huge part of my work, and that definitely stems from my training in Italy. But stylistically the classical painting and my illustration could not be more different so in terms of development, it seems to jump around rather than evolve coherently. How and when did you decide to start doing your work out on the street? I've always loved the look of old rough walls and especially entire derelict buildings, but somehow it never occurred to me to paint outside until it was suggested to me by another artist, Float. I knew I liked street art and paintings on the side of buildings but I knew nothing about it. She encouraged me to start doing stuff outside and it suddenly seemed absurd I hadn't done that before. So I started to. That was about just over a year ago. I started mainly around Hackney Road which has a few good back streets. Brick Lane too, where I discovered most of the art I now feel so familiar with. At first it was just a few squiggles and drawings but it became addictive because I was discovering all the other street art at the same time and there was so much to take in and so many different forms. I loved it! Paste-ups, stencils, spray-paintings, brush paintings, sculpture...Ridiculous not to have noticed it all before. You’re very prolific in Hackney Wick (where I happen to live, though I’ve never caught you painting!). When do you usually do your pieces? I guess I usually paint in the week days during the daytime but it really depends, weekends are also a good time (although there are more people about which is a bit difficult). I used to only work at night but that was when I did stuff around Hackney Road and Brick Lane and they were smaller drawings, or paste ups, and since I knew very little about it and the practice of it I assumed the only way I could do it was at 3am... Can you talk a little about the recent exhibition in London? I collaborated with Sophie Mason and Benjamin Murphy, and we came up with "Morella"; the exhibition was named after a creepy E.A.Poe story. It was one giant floor to ceiling mural in black and white. The months leading up to it were surreal because the three of us we were in one room together, hour after hour, day after day, painting onto every inch of the walls with our tiny brushes. The room is hidden away behind a shoe shop that has just opened in Shoreditch. We wanted to create an atmosphere based on the idea of an obsessive person or artist in their own environment, so the first thing we painted onto the walls was more space, we painted more rooms into it and lined out as many walls as possible within the actual walls. This way we were able to hang the works "into" the mural and create more perspective. Everything in that room was black and white. We painted the floor and ceiling black and kept the walls white with all the drawings over it in black, and all the pieces we created to hang in the space were black and white. I liked the idea of the room being like one gigantic and slightly crooked drawing. We got weirder and weirder throughout, not just in our drawings. By the end we had such weird things painted on the walls and in some of our pieces we worried slightly about any children coming to our opening night… Luckily though a lot of things went unnoticed! Almost everything was created in that room, very little was done in our own studios, we wanted to collaborate on every single piece as well as the mural itself. Most things were started only to be finished by someone else, and we had complete freedom to paint over each other's work if something didn't sit right or if someone else's idea barged in. In the end it was an amazing experience; I've never collaborated to that extent with any other artist. You’re one of only a few women working currently in London in this vein, but your style is quite masculine, at least thematically… Do you feel at all you have something to prove (being both a woman, and not starting out as a graffiti writer) or does the anonymity of the whole process give you some freedom? Is it even an advantage being a woman in a male-dominated field? To be honest, I couldn't possibly make my art more "feminine" or ethereal if I tried. In terms of proving myself, since I started out not knowing much at all about street art or the artists, I didn't really have much perception of them; I couldn't imagine what they looked like let alone whether it was an advantage or disadvantage to be a woman in this world. My art has always been the way it is, at least in its androgyny. I don't think it makes much difference to be female, does it? Having said that, I love the fact that people think I'm a man when they see my work! It's funny. Not coming from a graffiti background, do you feel there’s a divide between writers/street artists? Maybe. I don't think it's a malicious divide but maybe there is a slight gap between the two cultures. Who are the characters you paint? I have no idea. Just weird guys with severed heads. I prefer painting figuratively, it comes more naturally to me. Actually the content does change from time to time. It used to be cowboys but they come up less nowadays. I don't know why I never paint women, but I suspect it's because I don't know how to draw long hair. I guess that explains the lack of clothing on my characters too! You’ve collaborated with Millo – how did that come about? Any other collabs you’ve particularly enjoyed? Benjamin Murphy introduced me to Millo when he was at Ben's studio once. We then all went to Ibiza together for a week to take part in a charity event. We managed to paint around the town a few times and found an abandoned amphitheatre and hotel to paint in. The piece in Shoreditch came about because Millo didn't have time to finish it, so Ben asked me if I wanted to. I've collabed many times with fellow PMT crew members Seeds One, Himbad and Saki and Bitches. There have been a few massive paint sessions with up to 20 artists which have been great too! Float is another artist I've collaborated with quite a few times. I’ve noticed some pieces on wood placed around – what’s your thinking behind these? Do you mean the ones around Hackney Wick? They are pieces of wood I find around. Then I draw on them and leave them around outside. I guess it's with the idea of Free Art Friday in mind but I don't know if I've ever actually managed to do it on a Friday! Have you started to paint on the streets elsewhere? If I go abroad I definitely try and paint if I can. In Paris I've done some stuff, in Rome also a few small pieces and in Palermo a month ago I painted as much as I possibly could. Which was easy because the people there tend to govern themselves so permission was never an issue. I would just ask the nearest person to the wall I wanted to paint and no one ever said no. Plus, tons of beautiful and derelict walls and buildings. My dream city... How do you earn a living from what you do? I get commissions. It's usually oil paintings, collage, illustration or drawings I am asked to do. Occasionally I get album cover / flyer / wedding invitation type commissions too. The oil paintings take the longest. My most challenging commission this year was of three kids standing in front of their own favourite street art in Vienna. I had one vision of it but something completely different came out, so I battled with it big time. Normally I have a vague vision, which will spur me on, which might only arrive seconds before my pen touches paper, but it usually works out roughly the way I saw it in my head. With this painting, I had imagined it painted in a classical style but depicting an urban scene. It did not emerge like that at all, and I had to accept it eventually. But it did annoy me. What’s next for you? I'm preparing for a solo exhibition towards the end of the year. I'm drawing onto wood panels with colouring pencils and fine liner pens. I'm pushing myself to be as detailed as I possibly can. I'm looking at a lot of ancient art, mainly Japanese but also Egyptian, Aztec and Indian. I'm also painting any wall I can get my mitts on. At least once or twice a week I end up painting outside somewhere. —Charlotte Jansen (All images: Courtesy of the artist.) Read-more-graphic-0c90fea6dc5d183f7daca739bdcd0f1f
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by Vivian Mocellin

OsGemeos at Galeria Fortes Vilaça
São Paulo - The new project of OSGEMEOS in the Fortes Vilaça Gallery in São Paulo is an experience of vertigo that leads directly to the unconscious. Entering the first room of the exhibition one is faced with dozens of their iconic yellow people – their signature image – plus a variety of other characters, spread through countless paintings, sculptures and installations, assembled next to each other to form an immersive environment. In the center of the room a vortex made out of doors of all sizes seems to pull all these characters along with the viewers into the dream-like universe created by the duo. The vortex epitomizes precisely the moment in which we are about to fall asleep and fall into unconsciousness, with the doors representing a passage to other dimensions. The doors and windows always present in their works are also a point of contact and a connection between seemingly disconnected pieces. Even though each artwork contains a story and is a world in itself, small doors and windows sometimes denote a passage and an entrance into the world represented in the next painting, each work containing the key to open the door and understand the next work. “Everything is connected”, they say, leaving clues all the way along, giving the public a sensation that there is an erratic underlying narrative being drawn in front of our eyes. The public can identify references to Brazil’s folk art and northeastern culture, but are still unable to identify the story, or stories, being told. The overwhelming profusion of colors, shapes and pictorial styles makes the attempt to understand this narrative an exhausting task though. Soon enough, the observer is compelled to give up on any effort of rationalizing or interpreting and we surrender to their surreal landscapes and recurrent imagery. By then we start noticing the dreamy sensuality of the characters with fluid contours including some nude female figures, which stand out in the middle of the predominantly masculine yellow characters. Despite the nudity and sensuality they also preserve an air of innocence, that permeates the entire current production of the artists. Passing through a small door in the corner of the first room, we enter another space where we find the big surprise of the show: a giant 3D kinetic sculpture in form of a zoetrope, which gives life and motion to the OG iconography. Surrounded by ocean and moonlight the installation features a soundtrack composed in partnership with Ben Mor and DJ Zegon. The result is striking and absorbing. Our minds take a little while to believe the reality our eyes are recording. Looking at the piece for the two minutes it is in motion, one feels like being on the other side of the vortex represented in first installation and inside of an oneiric dimension where the surreal becomes tangible. Leaving this space still slightly unsettled the public is presented with another installation reproducing a child’s bedroom whose walls consist of a video. This interactive installation allows the viewers to deviate the patterns of its itinerary interfering in the way the artist’s images seem to be drifting in the screen. Far away from the urban chaos that marked their first years of production, Moon Opera seems to further consolidate the unique aesthetic language for which the duo are recognized worldwide. The migration of OSGEMEOS’ work to traditional exhibition spaces has allowed them to experiment with new supports, material and techniques and create environments where people could penetrate their works – and minds. Even though they continue to use spray paint, their work can hardly be defined as street art these days. The work of OSGEMEOS is now better understood in relation to other artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Jean Tinguely and even Frida Kahlo (as the official press release points out). Their magic realism, the excessiveness and obsessive recurrence of their iconography recreates a distinctive universe of that of the streets, a sensual, kaleidoscopic universe that appeals to all sorts of publics, especially to those who lost their capacity to be carried away by imagination. Like it or not, it is impossible to leave the Moon Opera without being taken by it all – if even for a brief minute or two. Pictures and videos of the exhibition can be seen on their official Instagram and Facebook pages. —Vivian Mocellin (All Images: OsGemeos, Exhibition view, 2014; © Photo: Eduardo Ortega / Courtesy Galpão Fortes Vilaça) Read-more-graphic-0c90fea6dc5d183f7daca739bdcd0f1f
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by Howie Stier

New York - Demolition may commence any day on New York City’s 5 Pointz, the sprawling concrete structures occupying an entire city block famously polychromed by an array of styles that over the past ten years made it one of the most recognized graffiti landmarks in the world. Owner of the Long Island City, Queens site David Wolkoff had the art painted over last November in preparation for tearing down the former warehouse that had housed art studios at below market rates. Wolkoff was granted a special permit to develop two luxury hi-rise apartment towers, allowing him to bypass existing zoning regulations in the once working class industrial neighborhood. Both towers will exceed 40 stories in height and will contain a combined one thousand luxury apartments as well as 50,000 square feet of retail space. A lawsuit seeking damages for destroyed artwork has been filed by a collective of graffiti writers, and response by the developer’s proposed artist work and display spaces in the new development remains uncertain. What does remain clear? Yet another unique culture-making resource has been lost forever, distancing New York ever further from its post-war art capital status and propelling a future when that city will be nothing but an unlivable playground for the world’s wealthiest. —Howie Stier (All images: 5Pointz in September, 2011. Photos by Natalie Hegert) Read-more-graphic-0c90fea6dc5d183f7daca739bdcd0f1f