STRØK Stencils Ernest Zacharevic Playing in a Brooklyn Doorway

Strøk is in Brooklyn briefly and he had time to spray out a brand new 8 layer stencil on a doorway here before traveling a bit to see more of the Eastern Seaboard with his girlfriend. We found him this perfect fire engine red metal door in Williamsburg this week with the always gracious and at-the-ready “Mayor of Williamsburg” Mr. Joe Franquinha of Crest Arts-Hardware fame.

The figure appears to be mid-action, fully engaged in an activity and unaware of you. It is a relationship with the subject that the Norwegian-now-Berlinian likes for you to have. When you see one of his figures, or many of them spread across an expansive wall, he likes you to imagine your own storyline about what a figure is doing, what they may be engaged in.

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In this case, he is experimenting with a more formal collaboration, shooting photos of fellow Street Artist, the Lithuania artist Ernest Zacharevic while he was playing a game dexterously with rudimentary tools of sticks and a rubber ball during a time when they were both in Hawaii for a mural festival.

Ernest’s in-motion action seems as if he is dancing – a combination of gusty winds that day and him trying to manipulate whatever he was holding from his hands. They set up the session and shot it from a little distance.  “I asked him if he wanted to do it on the roof that was opposite of my hotel balcony,” he says of the session of play and photo shoot.

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“It’s the second time that I asked someone specifically to do something. Otherwise it’s just snapshots of strangers in the street. I like it kind of better that way. I like hunting for the perfect shot or the perfect moment to take a picture. If you have model and you are telling them what to do it kind of turns into a different thing. “

When describing the formal versus the documentary style of capture, you can see that it’s a process choice that he is ambivalent about – whether to capture images purely by chance or to have a more direct relationship with the model and the creation of the image.

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

By removing the background context – a flying ball for example – and placing his figures that cavort with perspective, attaching them to a walls’ surface with a distinct shadow, Strøk has developed a recognizable style that makes viewers contemplate if they are the ones on the wall and Strøk’s people are the ones on the ground.

“I like the way they are connected to the surface,” he tells us and he discusses the shadows, how they are formed by the light and the figure touching the ground, and the resulting perspective that can be created.

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“I like it when they are almost standing on their toes, or caught mid-air. I like it a lot when they are running after a ball or chasing something.” In the artistic tradition of experimentation, he says that he is beginning to turn the figures ninety degrees to see what the effect is. “I’m doing a wall in Paris where it looks like the figures are falling but if you tilt your head then it looks like they standing.”

He explains that the idea came from someone else’s mistake. He shipped paintings to be displayed and the installer hung them at the incorrect orientation, turning the canvas 90 or 180 degrees – without realizing that Strøks’ signature on the back was meant to guide the proper angle to hang. When Strøk arrived to see the canvasses he was surprised. “In one of the paintings it looked more interesting. I didn’t intend it to be like that – obviously the composition changes a lot. It was just fun to see.”

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

When looking for a surface to paint, he doesn’t want it to be perfect and prefers to let its characteristics become part of the painting, filling in additional details that contribute to the emerging storyline. “I like the wall, and these textures. If there is a crack in the wall it becomes like it is a crack in the ground. I like all of these things. It kind of messes with you.”

In developing his style as a young stencilist in the early-mid 2000s, Strøk was inspired by the work of artists like Banksy and Blek le Rat. “I heard of Banksy before I heard of Blek actually,” he says, which is a common recollection of artists and Street Art followers. Without playing favorites, he says that he has also followed the work of another Norwegian named Dolk, the Germans EVOL and Pisa 73, and the American Chris Stain among many others he mentions with admiration.

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As realistic and full of kinetic life as his static stencils can be, it’s not photo realism. “No it’s like a level between painting and realism,” he says. “If you wanted realism you could just paste photographs and then it would be a photo exhibit.”

A true hands-on artist, Strøk personally cuts his stencils – and here you can see a frame-by-frame story of how a multi layer stencil gets on a door.

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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STRØK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Our very special thanks to Joe from Crest Hardware for offering this excellent spot.

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