Clara Vanessa Avalo and her Uninhibited Urban Art Magazine mounted their own celebratory event full of artists and fans this year in Allapattah, a gritty neighborhood adjacent to the glaring spotlights of Wynwood during Art Basel Miami.
Celebrating the magazine’s first anniversary Ms. Vanessa Avalo’s project brought a number of artists to paint live at “The Collective” during Basel week and to meet new folks and art fans at their big party out back at the compound and gallery. A self-described Luxury Real Estate Broker, Ms. Vanessa Avalo has managed to parlay international travel and art-world relationships with her affection for urban artists and is growing a scene of her own with some well-known and newer names on the scene. Ms. Avalo is the curator, organizer and creator of Uninhibited Urban Art Magazine and Uninhibited Mural Festival Allaphatta.
Loosely referred to by some as “The Collective Art Miami” this noisy front/quiet back block encompasses all the organic bohemian stuff that fuels a grassroots artists community and draws interest – a radio station (Jolt Radio), record store, live performances, small gallery shows, in-gallery yoga, design startups, production teams, dance, fashion.
With the exception of The London Police pieces all the murals featured here were created this year from November 21st. through December 2nd. These photos can give you a taste of the new grassroots scene growing out of, or perhaps in response to, the madness that is Wynwood.
The Artmossphere Biennale jump-starts the debate for many about how to best present the work of Street Artists and organizers here in Moscow chose a broad selection of curators from across a spectrum of private, commercial, academic and civically-inspired perspectives to present a solid range of artists from the graffiti and Street Art world inside a formal hall.
To be clear, unless it is illegal and on the street, it is not graffiti nor Street Art. That is the prevailing opinion about these terms among experts and scholars of various stripes and it is one we’re comfortable with. But then there are the commercial and cultural influences of the art world and the design industries, with their power to reshape and loosen terms from their moorings. Probably because these associated art movements are happening and taking shape before our eyes and not ensconced in centuries of scholarship we can expect that we will continue to witness the morphing our language and terminologies, sometimes changing things in translation.
Definitions aside, when you think of more organic Street Art scenes which are always re-generating themselves in the run-down abandoned sectors of cities like Sao Paulo, New York, Melbourne, Paris, Mexico City, London, and Berlin, it is interesting to consider that this event takes place nearly on the grounds of the Kremlin under museum like security.
An international capital that ensures cleanly buffed walls within hours of the appearance of any unapproved Street Art or graffiti, Moscow also boasts a growing contingent of art collectors who are young enough to appreciate the cultural currency of this continuously mutating hybrid of graffiti, hip hop, DIY, muralism, and art-school headiness. The night clubs and fashionable kids here are fans of events like hip-hop and graffiti jams, sometimes presented as theater and other times as “learning workshops” and the like.
Plugging into this idea of street and youth culture is not a singular fascination – there is perhaps an association with the rebellious anti-authoritarian nature of unregulated art in the streets that fuels the interest of many. With graffiti and hip-hop culture adoption as a template, newer expressions of Street Art culture are attractive as well with high profile artists with rebel reputations are as familiar in name here as in many cities. New festivals and events sometimes leverage this renegade free-spirit currency for selling tourism and brands and real estate, but here there also appears to be an acute appreciation for its fine art expression – urban contemporary art.
MOSCOW’S MANEGE AND “DEGENERATE ART”
So ardent is the support for Artmossphere here that a combination of public and private endorsements and financial backing have brought it to be showcased in a place associated with high-culture and counter-culture known as the Moscow Manege (Мане́ж). The location somehow fits the rebellious spirit that launched these artists even if its appearance wouldn’t lead you to think that.
The 19th century neo-classical exhibition hall stands grandly adjacent to Red Square and was built as an indoor riding school large enough to house a battalion of 2,000 soldiers during the 1800s. It later became host to many art exhibitions in the 20th century including a famous avant-garde show in 1962 that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev famously derided as displaying ‘degenerate’ art.
One of the artists whose work was criticized, painter and sculptor Ernst Neizvestny, challenged the label defiantly and won accolades afterward during his five decade career that followed, including receiving many awards and his work being collected worldwide by museums. Russian President Vladimir Putin is quoted as calling him “a recognised master and one of the best contemporary sculptors”. In January of this year at the age of 90, Neizvestny’s return to Menage featured an extensive exhibition. He passed away August 9th (The Moscow Times), only weeks before Artmossphere opened.
In some kindred spirit many of these artists at Artmossphere have done actual illegal work on the streets around the world during their respective creative evolutions, and graffiti and Street Art as a practice have both at various times been demonized, derided, dismissed and labeled by critics in terms synonymous with “degenerate”.
A CLEAN CITY
“Moscow is mostly very clean,” says Artmossphere co-founder and Creative Director Sabine Chagina, who walks with guests during a sunny afternoon in a busy downtown area just after the opening. “But we do have some good graffiti crews,” she says as we round the corner from the famous Bolshoi Theater and soon pass Givenchy and Chanel and high-end luxury fashion stores. Shortly we see a mural nearby by French artist Nelio, who painted a lateral abstracted geometric, possibly cubist, piece on the side of a building here in 2013 as part of the LGZ Festival.
If there was graffiti here in Moscow, it was not on full display very readily in this part of town. In driving tours, rides on the extensive metro train system, and in street hikes across the city a visitor may find that much of the illegal street art and graffiti common to other global capitals is illusive due to a general distaste for it and a dedicated adherence to buffing it out quickly.
For a pedestrian tourist Moscow appears in many ways as fully contemporary and architecturally rich as any international world-class metropolis. One of the cleanest places you’ll visit, the metro is almost museum-like in some instances; the historic districts spotless, public fountains, famed statues of important historical figures. All is efficiently ordered and – a welcome surprise – most public space is free of advertisements interrupting your view and your thoughts.
Come to think of it, the sense of commercial-celebrity media saturation that is present in other cities doesn’t appear to permeate the artists psyche here at the Biennale – so there’s not much of the ironic Disney-Marilyn-supermodel-Kardashian-skewering of consumerism and shallowness in this exhibition that you may find in other Urban Art events.
Also, unlike a Street Art-splattered show in London for example that may rudely mock Queen Elizabeth or art in New York streets that present Donald Trump styled as a pile of poo and Hillary Clinton as Heath Ledger’s Joker, we didn’t see over-the-top Putin satires either. So personality politics don’t seem directly addressed in this milieu. According to some residents there was an outcropping of huge festival murals by Street Artists here just a few years ago but more recently they have been painted over with patriotic or other inspiring murals, while others have been claimed for commercial interests.
Starved for some gritty street scenes, it is all the more interesting to see the one live mural painting that we were able to catch – a 6-story red-lined op-art tag by the French graffiti writer L’Atlas. Far from Manege, placed opposite a cineplex in what appears to be a shopping mall situated far from the city’s historical and modern centers, our guide tells us half-jokingly that he is not sure that we are still in Moscow.
Here L’Atlas says that he has painted his bar-code-like and cryptic nom-de-plume with an assistant on a cherry picker for a few days and he says that no one has stopped to ask him about it, neither to comment or criticize. Actually one man early one morning returning home from a disco did engage him briefly, but it was difficult to tell what he was talking about as he may have had a few drinks.
This lack of public commentary is mainly notable because in other cities the comments from passersby can be so ubiquitous that artists deliberately wear stereo headphones to prevent interruption and to be more productive. Sometimes the headphones are not actually playing music.
This Street Art Biennale nonetheless is gaining a higher profile among Urban Art collectors and its associated art dealers and the opening and later auction reaches directly to this audience. Included this year with the primary “Invisible Walls” exhibition are satellite events in association with local RuArts Gallery, Tsekh Belogo at Winzavod, and the Optika Pavilion (No. 64) at VDNKh.
The opening night event itself is wide and welcoming, a mostly youthful and populist affair with celebratory speeches and loosely organized group photos and an open bar. Added together with a press conference, a live DJ, virtual reality headsets, interactive artworks, major private business sponsors, government grants, ministers of culture, gallerists, and quirkily fashionable art fans, this is a polished presentation of a global culture that is filtered through the wide lense of the street.
Perhaps because the exhibition hall is a cavernous rectangle with exposed beams on the ceiling and many of the constructed white walls that mimic vendor booths, it has the air of an art fair. There are thankfully no salespeople pacing back and forth watching your level of interest. People tend to cluster before installations and talk, laugh, share a story, pose for a selfie.
The theme seems very appropriately topical as geopolitical, trade-related, social, digital, and actual walls appear to be falling down rapidly today while the foundations of new ones are taking shape. Catalyzed perhaps by the concept and practices of so-called “globalization” – with its easy flow of capital and restricted flow of humans, we are all examining the walls that are shaping our lives.
With 60+ international artists working simultaneously throughout this massive hall, newly built walls are the imperative for displaying art, supporting it, dividing it. These are the visible ones. With so many players and countries represented here, one can only imagine that there are a number of invisible walls present as well.
The theme has opened countless interpretations in flat and sculptural ways, often expressed in the vernacular of fine art with arguable nods to mid-20th century modernists, folk art, fantasy, representational art, abstract, conceptual, computer/digital art, and good old traditional graffiti tagging. Effectively it appears that when Street Art and graffiti artists pass the precipice into a multi-disciplinary exhibition such as this, one can reframe Urban/Street as important tributaries to contemporary art – but will they re-direct the flow or be subsumed within it?
The work often can be so far removed from street practice that you don’t recognize it as related.
Aside from putting work up in contested public space without permission and under cover, an average visitor may not see a common thread. These works run aesthetic to the conceptual, painterly to the sculptural, pure joy and pure politics. But then, that is we began to see in the streets as well when the century turned to the 21st and art students in large numbers in cities like New York and London and Berlin skipped the gatekeepers, taking their art directly to the public.
Perhaps beneath the surface or just above it, there is a certain anarchistic defiance, a critique of social, economic, political issues, a healthy skepticism toward everyone and everything that reeks of hypocritical patriarchal power structures. Perhaps we’re just projecting.
Looking over the 60+ list of names, it may be striking to some that very few are people of color, especially in view of the origins of the graffiti scene. Similarly, the percentage of women represented is quite small. We are familiar with this observation about Urban Art in general today, and this show mirrors the European and American scene primarily, with notable exceptions such as Instagrafite’s home-based Brazilian crew of 4 artists. As only one such sampling of a wide and dispersed scene, it is not perhaps fair to judge it by artists race, gender, or background, but while we speak of invisible walls it is worth keeping our eyes on as this “scene” is adopted into galleries, museums, and private collections.
Following are some of the artists on view at Artmossphere:
Certainly Moscow native ASKE is gently mocking our mutated modern practices of communicating with his outsized blocked abstraction of a close couple riveted to their respective electronic devices, even unaware of one another.
Warsaw based NeSpoon creates a sculpture of another couple. Heroically presenting her vision of what she calls the iconic “Graffiti Writer” and “Street Art Girl”, they face the future with art instruments in hand ready to make their respective marks. She says her work is emblematic of a permanent financial insecurity for a generation she calls the “PRECARIAT”.
“ ‘Precariat’ is the name of the new emerging social class,” says curator, organizer, and NeSpoon’s partner Marcin Rutkiewicz when talking about the piece during the press conference. “These are young people living without a predictable future, without good jobs, without social security. It’s a class in the making and probably these people don’t have any consciousness or global unity of interest. But they are the engines of protest for people all over the world – like Occupy Wall Street, Gezi Park in Turkey, or the Arab Spring.”
The artist developed the sculpture specifically for this exhibition and planned it over the course of a year or so. Born of a social movement in Poland by the same name, the sculpture and its sticker campaign on the street represent “a kind of protest against building walls between people who are under the same economical and social situation all over the world,” says Rutkiewicz.
Artist Li-Hill says his piece “Guns, Germs, and Steel” directly relates to the divisions between civilizations due to a completely uneven playing field perpetuated through generations. Inspired by the 1997 trans-disciplinary non-fiction book by Jared Diamond, Li-Hill says the Russian sculptural group called “The Horse Tamers” represents mankind’s “ability to harness power of the natural world and to be able to manipulate it for its advantage.”
“The horse is one of the largest signifiers and is a catalyst for advancement in society because it has been for military use, for agriculture, for transportation,” he says. “It was the most versatile of the animals and the most powerful.” Here he painted a mirror image, balanced over a potential microbial disaster symbol, and he and the team are building a mirrored floor to “give it this kind of infinite emblem status.”
Afloat in the middle of some of these walled areas M-City from Poland is choosing to be more direct thematically in his three dimensional installation of plywood, plaster, aerosol and bucket paint, and machine blown insulation.
“It is an anti-war piece,” he says, and he speaks about the walls between nations and a losing battle of dominance that ensures everyone will be victim.”
“It’s kind of a monster who destroys arms,” he says of this temporary sculpture with a lording figure crushing tanks below.
“He is destroying the tanks but at the same time he is also a destroyer – so it’s a big circle. Nothing is positive that can come out of this. There is always someone bigger.” He says the piece is inspired by the political situations in Europe today and the world at large.
Minneapolis based HOTTEA usually does very colorful yarn installations transforming a huge public space, but for Artmossphere he is taking the conceptual route. The walk-in room based on the Whack-A-Mole game presents holes which a visitor can walk under and rise above.
Visitors/participants will experience the physical separation of space, and perhaps contemplate facing one another and interacting or ignoring one another. It is something he says he hopes will draw attention to how many walls we have allowed ourselves to distract from human interactions.
Englands’ Sick Boy calls his project The Rewards System, where guests are invited to climb a ladder over a brick wall and descend down a slide into a darkened house, setting off a series of sensors that activate a variety of multisensory lights and tantalizing patterns. After landing and being rewarded the visitor is forced to exit on hands and knees through a too-small square door.
“The concept of the show is about invisible walls so I was thinking about there being barriers in your life and I thought about the reward of endorphins one experiences for achieving a task – a small amount of endorphins. So I thought I would build a house that signifies the reward system,” he explains.
Atlanta/Seattle based Derek Bruno reached back to the Leonid Brezhnev years and into Moscow’s Gorky Park for his series of site specific installations based on Soviet Cement Fence type PO-2. The iconic fence was re-created in a nearby studio and Bruno shot photographs of his 10-15 minute “interventions” in the park itself, revisiting a field of design called “technical aesthetics.”
In a statement Bruno explains “Since the end of the Soviet Union, the iconic fence has become a persistent and ever present reminder of former delineations of space; while new forms of boundaries shape the digital and sociopolitical landscapes. “
Remi Rough is known for his smartly soaring abstract geometry in painted murals and smaller scale works, and for Moscow he wanted to strip it back to the basics, approaching a white box with one undulating graphic composition.
“My idea was that Moscow’s a bit ‘over the top’,” he says, and he decided to strip back the audacity and go for simplicity, which actually takes courage.
“I said ‘you know what?’ – I want to do something with the cheapest materials you can possibly get. These two pieces literally cost 3000 rubles ($50). It’s made of felt, it’s like a lambs wool. I think they use it for flooring for construction.” Depending on the angle, the pink blotted material may translate as a swath of otherworldly terrain or a metaphorical bold vision with all the hot air let out.
“I wanted to do something peaceful and calming and use natural materials – something that’s different from what I usually do – but I use the folds in the fabric and the pink color – two things that I usually use a lot.”
Moscow’s Alexey Luka is also challenging himself to stretch creatively by taking his wall collage installations of found wood and converting them into free-standing sculptures.
“For this biennale I tried to make something different so now I am going from the assemblages to 3-D.” The constructed media is warm and ordered, reserved but not without whimsy.
“My work is made from found wood – I use it with what I found on the street and my shapes and my graphics – so it’s kind of an experiment with three dimensions,” and he confirms that most of this wood is sourced here in Moscow.
We ask him about the number of eyes that peer out from his installation. Perhaps these eyes are those of Muscovites? “They are just like observers,” he says.
Torino’s Mimmo recreated the Moscow Olympic Village from the 1980 games in miniature presented as on a plainly brutalist platform. The sculpture is austere in detail on the hulking towers save for the tiny graffiti tags, throwies, rollers, extinguisher tags, and the like at the bases and on the roofs.
Curator Christian Omodeo tells us that Mimmo recreated the massive village based on his direct study of the site as it stands today; a housing project that has hundreds of families — and a hip-hop / graffiti scene as well.
It is striking that the scale reduces the impact of the graffiti – yet when experienced at eye-level it retains a potency. Even so, by recasting the relationship between viewer and mark-making, this graffiti actually seems “cute” because of its relative size to the viewer.
Brad Downey and Alexander Petrelli hi-jacked the opening of the Biennale by circulating within the exhibit as a gallery with artworks for sale. With Downey performing as a street-huckster pushing his own art products, Mr. Patrelli showcased new Downey photo collages and drawings inside his mobile “Overcoat Gallery”
A charming Moscow art star / gallerist / performance artist, Mr. Patrelli is also a perennial character at openings and events in the city, by one account having appeared at 460 or so events since 1992 with his flashing overcoat. The artworks also feature Patrelli, completing a self-referential meta cycle that continued to circle the guests at the exhibition.
International artists participating in the Artmossphere Biennale 2016 include: Akacorleone, Alex Senna, Brad Downey, Chu (Doma), Orilo (Doma), Claudio Ethos, Demsky, Christopher Derek Bruno, Filippo Minelli, Finok, Galo, Gola Hundun, Hot Tea, Jaz, Jessie and Katey, Johannes Mundinger, L’Atlas, LiHill, LX One, M-city, TC, Mario Mankey, Martha Cooper, Miss Van, Nespoon, Millo, Pablo Benzo, Pastel, Paulo Ito, Proembrion, Remed, Remi Rough, Rub Kandy, Run, Sepe, Sickboy, Smash 137, Sozyone Gonsales, SpY, The London Police, Trek Matthews, Wes 21.
This week BSA is in Moscow with you and Urban Nation for Artmossphere 2016, the 2nd Street Art Biennale, a group exposition introducing 26 Russian and 42 foreign artists who were shaped by street art in some way. Also present are international curators, museums and galleries who have significantly intersected with urban art in recent years.
Artmossphere co-founder and curator Sabina Chagina pulled off a second edition of this biennale last night in Moscow – not an easy feat. But with 11 curators and nearly 70 artists from here and around the world, the multi-discipline show unveiled on time and was well attended – with a steady stream of curious fans coming through the space today as well.
With the air of an art fair (minus the sales associates and plus the soaring arched windows) and work often so far removed from street practice that you may refer to it simply as Urban Contemporary, there is a palpable enthusiasm and curiosity here about what this “movement” might be bringing.
Most if not all of the international artists have intersected with illegal Street Art in cities around the world and this work has often evolved from the practice. Perhaps beneath the surface or just above it, there is a certain defiance and a critique of social, economic, political issues and systems.
Elsewhere the presentation is primarily aesthetic, very muted or so similar to previous mid-20th-century art schools as to appear separate from what one may recognize as the urban art of the last two decades. Similarly, the inclusion of graffiti is only occasional and is presented as part of the greater whole today rather than its genesis role.
Adding together a press conference, a Moscow superstar DJ, virtual reality headsets, interactive displays (otherwise known as selfie-with-art opportunities), major private business sponsors, cultural ministers, government grants, and official accreditation, this is a professional and polished presentation of a global culture that has filtered through the lense of the street.
Here are a few select shots to give you an idea of the feeling during the opening of Artmossphere 2.
Brad Downey and Alexander Petrelli performed Brad’s huckster mobile art-selling installation on the floor of the bienalle, where Brad used his laser-like sales skills to sell his own work. Mr. Patrelli is known for his unannounced appearances at Moscow openings wearing his “Overcoat Gallery”. This was reportedly his 461st such appearance since 1992 and his flashing overcoat contained original Brad Downey artworks for your perusal.
Boy did you smell the rotting hot winds blowing hard through Brooklyn this week? Makes you want to wash the ick off doesn’t it? Ballooning above the fetid stench of decaying garbage in dumpsters and drunken late-night urination, a distinctly bloated snorting powdery heat rose from Duane Reade Island and came across the East River, bringing with it a rather Coney Island-style circus of crusty hot air mixed with a whiff of braying pomposity. Luckily, it was a brief blast of the gaseous odor, dissipating quickly back into irrelevance and the now clean cool air has returned. At least as clean as the BK can muster.
As we do every week, here are a selection of new work that has arrived as we celebrate the true spirit of creativity and the community that has always buoyed us, no matter the weather. As usual, we’re happy to be right here with you on the stoop, hopefully staying cool.
This weeks interview with the street features Bisco, Bo130, Buff Monster, Case Ma’Claim, Cash For Your Warhol, El Tono, Galo, Microbo, Nychos, Shepard Fairey, Smithe, and The London Police.
A nearly three week installation of Street Art in Oslo, Norway by Faile, SEEN, D*Face, The London Police, Shepard Fairey, Vitaly Rusakov (Mizer), Logan Hicks, Will Barras, Martin Whatson, Galo, and Nicolay Aamodt is taking place right now as a way to raise awareness and funds for Human Rights Watch.
Street Art fans are typically more in touch with the needs of communities and are fierce advocates of the rights of all people, so BSA is very excited to start this post by offering you with the opportunity to give money to Human Rights Watch – So, 1. GIVE to HRW first, and 2. Look at great pics second.
Thank you, now cool Street Art photos from Street Artist and photographer Logan Hicks.
666 Dollar Show
Opening Reception March 4th at 7pm
Artists will be in attendance
Open to the public
The March exhibition at Black Book Gallery is going to be a powerhouse display of three well-established, international street artists: OTTOGRAPH, GALO and 2501, all accomplished in their craft and all bringing their big style and influence to Denver.
Big style is not just a metaphor. Ottograph, Galo and 2501 all work large. 2501, for example, reads spacious surfaces like animate objects and then gives them the dignity of character they deserve with paint. Born in Milan as Jacopo Ceccarelli, the name 2501 marks a deliberate style shift and focus on blending wall painting, paint on canvas, sculpture and video. Circulating between Milan, Sao Paulo and Berlin, 2501s work is best recognized in massive, highly detailed mural paintings. They are pretty amazing and give new meaning to the term, urban renewal.
Ottograph, also a large-scale muralist, has been slinging paint since the age of ten. Starting out in Amsterdam, where he is from, and then moving on to become an internationally sought after artist, Ottograph has established himself squarely in the middle of the global street and graffiti art movement. Simultaneously though, Ottograph has bridged the fine art gap with his work, an advantage that comes with age and time dedicated to painting. The Modern Art Museum of Antwerpen (Belgium) is home to a giant Ottograph mural. Ottographs contribution to street art extends beyond his own work, as he is also a community leader, having organized several cooperative painting commissions and operating the website I Paint Everyday www.ipainteveryday.com to encourage the tedious, yet necessary practice of serious painting.
Hailing from the same underground culture in Amsterdam, street artist Galo, will be the third of the group showing at Black Book Gallery in March. Originally from Italy, Galo moved to Amsterdam in 1998 to start his career and fell into opportunity after opportunity to paint. This is where Galo developed the bulk of his artistic abilities and a network that would take him on a world-class tour of painting, spanning ten years and four continents. Galo now resides in Italy and has recently opened the first official street gallery in Turin, The Galo Art Gallery (Ottograph was commissioned to deck the interior out). Galos signature characters are recognizable by their bulbous eyes, long jaws and open-teeth smiles, most of the time intertwined into a tessallation-like graphic, spanning whatever surface it is that catches Galos attention. In part, he is known for his willingness to tag anything in sight.
Last Thursday Factory Fresh Gallery hosted “Fresh Geezers”, a new show by The London Police and Galo. In a departure from his regular street art job, photographer Vinny Cornelli takes Brooklyn Street Art to the opening with these shots.
Factory Fresh welcomes The London Police, who get themselves into the oddest situations while in pursuit of art. (video still courtesy London Police)
The World Premiere of full-length Galo Video!
Italian street artist Galo enjoys a glass of wine while painting a canvas (video still courtesy the artist)
FRESH Canvasses paying tribute to NYC!
A tribute to their host borough, street artists The London Police combine Brooklyn architecture and a stylized central discombulation of their “character” (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Blowing northward along the coast from Miami’s Art Basel like warm air from a subway grate up my homegirls’ skirt, this trio of street art brothers are some really fresh geezers here to warm you at Factory Fresh.
It’s The London Police and Galo – a motley joyfest of brotherly jest in color and black and white. Their hand work is a contrast of free-form (Galo) and pre-meditated crisp line control (London Police). There are still-wet canvasses and the newly constructed Factory Fresh Screening Room to see two cinematic features. Helpfully, the entertaining videos in this show are not conceptual, so you won’t need a brochure to accompany them.
This quickly mounted show (3 days) is only possible because these guys have a bit of mileage under their belts (12 years and 50 countries, in Chaz’s case), are complete professionals, and they know how to turn out the canvasses while having fun.
<<< >> > << >>>>>
Galo was previously a graphic designer who decided to dedicate his energies to his art, which is colorful, line-based, and concentrates on what he calls his “character” – who really turns out to be more than one guy.
“This is my character. I just draw until I’m satisfied, you know? I think it has a sort of graphic balance. Normally I’m pretty flexible with myself. I like to have the faces squeezed. It doesn’t matter if they have the perfect eye. It’s pretty much informal,” says Galo.
“It is a sort of family because I first started with the one character with the round eye and slowly I started to draw the same kind of lines but with different kinds of eyes and different position of the mouth and so let’s say that they are three brothers. They are always changing”
One of Galo’s favorites from the show. ” Normally I don’t paint big canvasses like this because it is troublesome to ship them. So I shipped the canvasses and I re-framed them here.” (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Upon his recent return to Brooklyn, Galo retrieved some old paintings stored here, which he says he wants to light on fire. “These canvasses basically disappeared for four years. They were in the storage of a friend of a friend who moved to Mexico. So I didn’t see them anymore, they just got ruined. Just to clean my hands I just want to burn them. So I nailed them together. I’m going to burn these and we’ll see what happens,” says the pyromaniacal artist.
Galo stands with a stack of canvasses destined for destruction in the back yard of Factory Fresh, which he painted in about 3 hours with a big fat cap. (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Galo shows some technique with the can. “Miami was great, absolutely amazing. The best I’ve ever seen – so many people out there. I painted a really big wall so I was busy painting every day, but for sure in the evening it was just partying, hanging out with other artists.”
Galo peers out through his work in this still from his new full length video premiering tonight at Factory Fresh.
GALO – a Brief Introduction – the full story tonight!
The London Police are Chaz and Bob – Bob does the crisp linear cityscapes and architectural detailing, and Chaz draws the “LAD” character (who is based loosely on the man himself), now happily morphing and shape-shifting into blobs and motifs that echo the original little happy fella they are known for.
On the topic of the endless interpretations and generally ripping apart of the original theme, Chaz explains that he felt their fans might have gotten a bit bored with just the one character, “Once you’ve done one head and then two heads and then three or four heads…after going out and doing the same thing it got to the point where I wanted to go out and do ten heads, fifteen heads.”
This year they limited themselves to strictly black and white, but do not rule out using color in the future.
The City according to the London Police; “”We’re really proud and pleased with the work we are doing this year. We enjoy it, and I don’t think you can really ask for more than that. We work a lot on these paintings. It takes a long time. Everything you see here is doubled, because we use the ink pens. The first layer leaves it a little bit shallow so it needs to be doubled up,” says Chaz (photo Steven P. Harrington)
A student of architecture, Bob worked for an architectural firm a few years ago, which sharpened his acuity, “I’m crazy about architecture but as a living it’s a little bit stale. But it was really good because it was so in-depth that your drawing gets better. Your understanding of architecture gets better and your world grows. Now I can pretty much close my eyes, remember an image and then draw it from my brain,” he says.
And about incorporating the architecture of his host city into TLP’s work, ” I did quite a lot of actual research, visually, and reading up on Brooklyn. The contrast between Manhattan and Brooklyn, obviously is huge. But I like the rawness of Brooklyn. I always have. I’ve been here a few times and I like that you have the low-level housing, three or four stories high, and then you’ve got this huge factory next to it. It’s really bold. That’s what is iconic about Brooklyn.”
In this still from the “Brothers in Arms” documentary to be screened this evening, Chaz takes a little catnap as his hand-cuffed art-mate labors on their deadline. (image courtesy the artists)
“In this show we are showing a documentary film we made in L.A. which was basically us handcuffed together twenty-four hours a day. We lasted five days. It was pretty intense. We didn’t break. I thought there would be a breaking point where I would just need personal space, especially at the obvious times”
The “Brothers in Arms” flyer is posted in the gallery just outside the cinema. Check your local listings for times.
Produced by Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, the brief documentary shows the “brothers” in a variety of natural and staged situations that come off as endearing, entertaining, and a bit goofy.
“It produced a funny, nice documentary so when people come to the show tonight there will be a bit of cinema about every 20 minutes and you can watch the film about Galo, and the film about us handcuffed together, which is stupid, corny, and funny,” says Chaz.
Chaz chats while doing some finer line-work in prep for tonight’s show at Factory Fresh (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Two new smaller canvasses feature scenes inspired by New York disaster movies that have proliferated in the last 25 years. Both Chaz and Bobbie site the movie “Ghost Busters” as a formative influence in their artistic careers. (The London Police) (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Chaz works on a canvas patiently while handcuffed to Bobbie, who is getting a tatoo. “It’s really simple, it’s just my girlfriend and my son’s name in script. She was really gobsmacked. She really loved it. I was really fearing showing her, and she was really touched,” says Bob. (still from “Brothers in Arms” courtesy the artists)
About the movie, we discovered that really the idea was Chaz’s and Bobbie just went along. Was there a point when Bobbie regretted the decision?
Says Bobbie, “Yeah, about after five minutes. I was having a terrible time”
“I just couldn’t, – Bear in mind you’re setting up for a very important show – you just couldn’t get anything done. The whole thing – it was okay hanging out with Chaz, you know we had a good laugh. But you couldn’t get anything done. You just can’t physically do anything, it get’s really frustrating.”
But don’t mind this brother, because later in the conversation, he reverses himself and says it would have been great to do it for 2 or 3 weeks. “We wanted to do more than five days but the problem was that show was to open so that was the maximum that we could do but if had had more time that’s when you would have gotten some really good material. It was all novelty, it was all fun. If you went to a party people were really interested – but it would have been great if you could have gone on for two or three weeks.”
Were people waiting for one or both of them to have a meltdown? Says Bob, “Yeah, that’s what they were hoping! But it was five days and because we’re best friends it was never going to happen”.
Featuring The London Police and Galo Show Opens Thursday, December 10, 7-10pm
This December, Factory Fresh pulls out all the stops as we welcome The London Police and Galo as they return to New York to celebrate more than a decade in the game.
Known for their iconic characters collectively these artist work have respectively graced streets and galleries in 35 countries and have been feature in numerous publications throughout the globe. The artists will be showcasing new canvas, featured films of the artist and installation works created site specifically for Factory Fresh.
Show Runs till January 10, 2010.
For more info on Factory Fresh and it’s upcoming shows go to www.factoryfresh.net or email email@example.com
ModArt – A Celebration of 20 Issues & All That Lay Ahead
August 14th – September 4th
Opening Reception: Fri, August 14th, 7-11PM
(Los Angeles, CA)Thinkspace is proud to present a very special group show which is being curated by the good folks from ModArt magazine out of Europe. The show helps to celebrate the release of ModArt’s 20th issue and a switch to a new quarterly book-based format. This is going to be one visually arresting show featuring a vast array of artists from around the globe.
UK based Mr. Jago will be the featured artist alongside a group show featuring works from an international lineup consisting of Ado Jahic, Bo130, Brooke Reidt, Chris Bourke, Christopher Lambert, Dave The Chimp, El Gato Chimney,Faith 47, Galo, Guillaume Desmarets, Jon Bugerman, KuKula, Laundry and Limbo, Microbo, Morcky, SheOne, Stefan Strumbel,Stephen Smith (aka Neasden Control Centre), Tim Biskup, Vincent Skoglund, Will Barras, & more
The folks from ModArt will be in town, so please plan to come through and help us properly welcome them to Los Angeles and offer them congratulations on fighting the good fight for the new contemporary movement over in Europe and beyond.
Mr. Jago (featured artist):
Bristol Based Mr. Jago, pioneer of the doodle, is a founding member of the Scrawl Collective and a veteran in the street art movement and much respected among his peers.
Growing up in a small town, Jago’s interests lie in art and design with influences ranging from classic Marvel comics to graffiti and hip-hop culture. These influences have helped to forge his unique freehand style and distinct color palette.
His work has shown the world over, including such established galleries as Stolen Space (UK), The Don Gallery (Italy), Gallery 1988 (Los Angeles), Space Junk (France), Opus Underground (UK), Compound Gallery (Portland), Scion Installation LA (Los Angeles), Nelly Duff (UK), Lazy Dog (France), and has taken part in such high profile events as Brave Art (Canada) and Artists 11 @ Bonhams (UK) plus numerous live painting events and exhibitions the world over as part of the Scrawl Collective.