All posts tagged: DK Johnston

Bunnies, Birds, Sexuality and VINZ Feel Free’s “Innocence” in Brooklyn

Bunnies, Birds, Sexuality and VINZ Feel Free’s “Innocence” in Brooklyn

It’s been a typical New York autumn week for Vinz Feel Free, the wild-life street surrealist from Valencia.

Vinz Feel Free contributes his phone booth ad takeover for the growing and influential  #resistanceisfemale campaign (photo © Jaime Rojo)

His freshly painted birds-on-a-wire on the gallery door and legal wheat pastes on the street are contiguous with the 20 piece collection of photo-painting collaged works inside The Marcy Project in Williamsburg.

The gallery itself doubles as a community center for locals who like to play on three ping-pong tables and listen to music and share a story or a joke, but excitement builds  today as the fresh crisp sunny fall air has been sweeping through the cavernous space to prepare for tonight’s’ solo Brooklyn debut.

Vinz Feel Free. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Well-read and politically astute about local and world affairs, the genial and curious artist quickly shares with you his firm observations regarding incursions on freedom by state actors and private corporations and the myriad hypocrisies of the self-ordained pious.

His own libertine escapades in the studio environment have brought arresting images to the street since 2011 that combine intimate nude metaphorical relationships topped by hand painted heads of the furry or plumed animal world – themselves representing an increasingly complex series of assigned roles and meanings.

Vinz Feel Free.  Detail. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Birds are associated with freedom, fish remind him of mindless consumerism, and frogs convey authority. He reserves reptiles for soulless soldiers of capital and authoritarian types. And the sudden preponderance of rabbits? Why sexuality and innocence of course.

“Innocence” is the name of the exhibition here curated by BSA and DK Johnston, and Vinz Feel Free has been preparing these works for many months. A project that has included his study of innocence, the show is meant to demarcate such shadings of the concept as to appear only subtly different from one another. To wit:

1. The quality or state of being innocent; freedom from sin or moral wrong.
2. Freedom from legal or specific wrong; guiltlessness.

Vinz Feel Free.  Detail. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“The birds were my first character and they represent freedom and this is why I chose naked people with birds heads. It’s not just the freedom but also the fragility and the tenderness.”

He often points to activism and public displays of protest when describing inspiration for his models poses, including his inspiration from the activists FEMEN, who disrobe at inopportune times for the powerful in public while the cameras are rolling. For this show he combines their handwritten slogans across bare chests and cloaks their rabbit heads with the knitted masks, or balaclavas, that the Russian musicians/activists Pussy Riot use in their surprise public demonstrations.

“When I began the Feel Free project in 2011 they were a lot of people in Valencia going into the streets fighting for rights for anyone to choose any kind of sexuality and against all the cuts in education and the repression that we are subject to,” he recalls, and you can begin to see that his fascinations for public activism, individual freedom, and the display of sexuality are intertwined.

Vinz Feel Free.  Detail. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“After the birds I started every year to introduce a new character into my own imaginary worlds and the latest one is the rabbit,” he explains, “that represents the sexuality and also the curiosity. It’s like they are taking the relay race baton from earlier demonstrations. The rabbits are not always naked sometimes they are dressed and sometimes they’re half naked and they are fighting for new things.”

The baton in this case is the move from one or two kinds of sexuality to a gender fluid approach. Although the preponderance of relationships he depicts is between females, a wall in the exhibition of photo-collaged scenarios mixes genders and relationships.

“I think of nudity and naked people as something that happens between friends and lovers. Here we are taking a little step beyond with curiosity between girls and girls, and girls and boys, and boys and boys; bisexuals, pansexuals, transsexuals.”

Vinz Feel Free.  Detail. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

But this is the so-called western world, and these are art-gallery pieces. When it comes to other locations and illegal or quasi-legal street art, the artworks in public may be reconsidered… or abandoned altogether. With shows, fairs and street in New York, Los Miami, Munich, Berlin, Vienna, London, Milan, he discovered different responses to nudity and sexuality in African and Asia.

“I was in Malaysia in 2015 and in Bangkok but people told me that at that moment it was a military government in control and the punishment for doing graffiti or interventions in the city was 15 years in prison,” he says with utter seriousness.

“And they told me that if I plan to do nudity on the street the prison sentence would most likely be longer. So I came back home to Valencia and said, ‘forget about it’.”

Vinz Feel Free.  Detail. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

What about putting up his double height wheat-pasted hybrids in his home city of Valencia, we wondered. How long do they remain untouched?

“It’s really difficult to say – it can be two or three weeks,” he says. “They remove the genitals – the vagina and penises are the first things to be removed. Later the nipples. There are some of them that partially remain after five years but usually the lifespan is less than one month depending on where they are. It really depends on the area and the neighborhood and the kind of people who live there – if they feel empathy with the work and if they like it.”

It’s interesting that he speaks of empathy, perhaps evidence of his own desire for connection with the audience. Ultimately his interest is the conversation as a Street Artist acting in the ever-bubbling rhythm of an active city, a call waiting for your response to his paper and paint entreaty.

“For me it is not a problem if it does not last – it is not my wall. I am not the owner. I don’t mind if another artist comes and paints over it because that means the city is alive. I have the old romantic idea about ephemeral art. If something remains forever that means the city becomes old and you want it to be alive, it must change.”

In New York and Brooklyn anyway, there is little doubt of that likelihood. Vinz Feel Free now momentarily changes it a little bit, before it carries on its sometimes innocent way.

Vinz Feel Free.  Detail. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Vinz Feel Free.  Detail. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Vinz Feel Free.  Detail. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Vinz Feel Free.  Detail. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Vinz Feel Free.  Detail. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Vinz Feel Free.  Detail. “Innocence” The Marcy Project. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. November 4th. 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Vinz Feel Free “Innocence” Opens today at The Marcy Project. Click HERE for details.

We wish to extend our deep gratitude to Kathy and Erwin of Bed-Stuy Art Residence (BedStuyartresidency.org) for their support and generosity, always.

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The London Police Arrest The Quin Hotel

The London Police Arrest The Quin Hotel

Chaz and Bob, those lads from London, have come to 57th street in Manhattan to show some new and previously displayed artworks in the lobby of the Quin Hotel. Under the direction of curator DK Johnson, the lobby has been home to a number of brief exhibitions in the last couple of years by Street Artists and their ilk.

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The London Police. Detail. At The Quin. Curated by DK Johnston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For a limited time you can see the precise handiwork of these two as The London Police takeover the welcoming area of the hotel, as well as adding to the shipping/receiving doors to the left of the entrance on the street.

In addition to the new collaborative black ink drawings by the The London Police, there are a few larger canvases featuring more expansive otherworldly scenes hinting at their global exploits, studies of space, architecture, robots, graffiti tags, favorite bands, assorted friends, and their iconic LAD characters.

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The London Police, with special guest, Jane Fonda. Detail. At The Quin. Curated by DK Johnston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Of particular note are the animated sequences of images floating gently across the multi-screened collage in the lofted lobby, a permanent digital display that has become part of the Quin gallery experience and provides a new way to appreciate the featured artist/s.

Don’t forget you can catch their huge wall at Coney Art Walls as we enter autumn and you can see this summer’s collection of walls by some of the best public/fine/street/urban artists in one dizzying maze.

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The London Police. Detail. At The Quin. Curated by DK Johnston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The London Police. Detail. At The Quin. Curated by DK Johnston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The London Police. The Quin. Curated by DK Johnston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The London Police. The Quin. Curated by DK Johnston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The London Police. The Quin. Curated by DK Johnston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The London Police. The Quin. Curated by DK Johnston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The London Police. The Quin. Curated by DK Johnston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

The London Police Solo exhibition at The Quin in Manhattan is currently on view and open to the public. Click HERE for further information.

 

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“ABOVE” in New York City

“ABOVE” in New York City

In dense cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo and New York there is so much activity that takes place above you, yet we primarily grant relevancy to what happens at street level from our pedestrian perspective.

Perhaps those machinations and love affairs and backroom deals and elegant dances and mergers of all sort on higher floors are what continue to fascinate Tavar Zawacki to direct our attention ABOVE our heads. Perhaps he is simply reminding us that there is a sky.

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Tavar ABOVE Zawacki at The Quin Hotel. Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As an artist in residence this summer with the Quin hotel, the California born artist is currently visiting from Berlin but, as happens to many, is falling in love with New York.

His current show is a collection of highly glossed icons placing his nom de street front and center. These abstracted kaleidoscope-induced neon versions of his tag may bring to mind street signage and the blinking store window vernacular of nighttime commercial districts in many cities.

We’ve been seeing him around town and caught him painting last week in Little Italy with the Lisa Project and you will undoubtedly be seeing of ABOVE’s work in New York in the future. You know where to look for it, right?

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Tavar ABOVE Zawacki at The Quin Hotel. Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Tavar ABOVE Zawacki at The Quin Hotel. Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Tavar ABOVE Zawacki at The Quin Hotel. Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Tavar ABOVE Zawacki at The Quin Hotel. Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Tavar ABOVE Zawacki at The Quin Hotel. Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Tavar ABOVE Zawacki in Little Italy for his mural in collaboration with The L.I.S.A. Project. Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Tavar Zawacki AKA Above solo exhibition at The Quin Hotel in Manhattan is currently on view and it is free to the public. Click HERE for more information.

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