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Brooklyn Street Art

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Tavar Zawacki: Being Fearless and “Metamorphosis” with Urban Spree

Posted on October 11, 2017

Globally entire societies are undergoing metamorphoses at a quickening pace today – for a variety of reasons depending on who you talk to; The failures of capitalism and neoliberalism, the rapid development of technology, dwindling natural resources, a widening wealth gap, greater communications – all amidst a cross-cultural consciousness that is revealing truths at an unprecedented rate – even while disinformation does its best to cloud the view.

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Whatever form these metamorphoses eventually will take is open to all manner of expert conjecture and prophetic analysis but one thing everyone agrees on is that metamorphosis can include a painful, revelatory, liberating process.

Amidst this continuous sea change Street Artist/ visual artist Tavar Zawacki has chosen to embrace his personal and professional metamorphosis. He’s even published his second monograph and had an exhibition with the name.

“Metamorphosis”

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For years you have seen the upward pointing arrow; on stickers, canvasses, screen prints, even mobiles hanging. That is why the name “ABOVE” was appropriate. But for the artist, it became a limitation stylistically and the anonymity of remaining hidden in the shadows behind a street tag increasingly felt uncomfortable, not true to the artist he was becoming. Initially, the tag, or street surname that many graffiti and Street Artists adopt, was perhaps a good way to evade the police, or to simply obscure his identity to others who might be overly critical of his work.

Two decades later, he’s ready to liberate himself and tell you his real name: Tavar Zawacki.

“It’s been 20 years that I’ve been really insecure about myself and my work and I was looking for outward approval and I was really insecure about leaning forward with what I really wanted to do,” he says of the personal journey. “I needed to change my mindset to have the confidence to know that if I am painting these the best I can – that’s all that really matters.”

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In the new show with museum-size canvasses at Urban Spree, who also published the new168 page hardcover, you can see examples of his earlier work and the new directions that he is experimenting in. “There’s four different bodies of work,” he says as he walks around the perimeter with you.

On one wall you find the classic ABOVE canvasses: many optimistic pastel hues and tints overlapping in the geometrics of the ever-present arrow. Another features pieces of zoomed-in portions of geometric shapes that highlights negative and positive space, some recalling the op-art of the 1960s and 1970s. “These pieces focus on the areas of geometry that I really like the most,” he says.

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Newer works begin to bend and curve the patterned plane, adding dimension and shadow, recalling the crack-and-peel stickers he used for so many years to brand himself as ABOVE prolifically across possibly 100 cities. A centerpiece canvas combines all of these movements, peeling off selected graphic elements and forming new shapes in the air with a sophisticated palette and subtle shading – perhaps the most seamless move into contemporary.

“And with shadow it’s about bending it – it was about having a new shape and I can manipulate this to make it look totally different,” he says. “That is something I feel like personally I am going through as well – I am transitioning to another stage of my life.”

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“The whole thing is a metaphor,” he says at one point when describing a particular piece, but you realize that the statement applies to the show as well. A metaphor for the evolutions that an artist must go through to keep alive; a recreation, a metamorphosis, however bold or subtle, that can push him or her into a new direction.

He sits on a window sill and pulls back the sleeve of his t-shirt to reveal a tattooed sleeve that moves from densely inked pattern to bare skin. The finespun graduated marking is repeated on the books’ cover, designed by Kelly Jewell.
“I’m really interested in gradients as well because it’s a slow transition – when you can see the tattoo and the cover of the book; it’s like with each circle, if you look at it compared to the neighboring one, you won’t see a big difference. But over time and with effort you can keep going forward, day by day.”

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We talk about the new color dimensions, the zoomed in geometry, the intensity of the new color palette and he says that the change is about “being fearless.”

And perhaps, you think, that is what it takes to face change and embrace a metamorphosis. Being fearless.

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Metamorphosis” the book, published by Urban Spree Books is available for purchase at the Urban Spree Gallery book store.

Published by Urban Spree Books in September 2017, First Edition

Book Design by Kelly Jewell, Texts & Design by Tavar Zawacki

168 pages, Hardcover, 24 x 32 cm (9,5″ x 12,5″)

Silver Foil Cover

www.tavarzawacki.com

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