Happy NYC Marathon! The trees all over the city appear to be at peak every year around this event – just check the aerial shot of the finish line as the runners cross it in Central Park today. Also, set your clocks back one hour today, or you’ll arrive late for work tomorrow. If you have a job, that is.
News this week that the prolific and cryptic text writer RAMBO has passed away. We extend our condolences to his friends and family. His passing follows quickly the death of the octogenarian Irish-New York street artist Robert Janz, whose street collages and text installations served as witnesses to ecological and social issues he felt strongly about, as well as were a commentary on the human condition in all its mysteries. Our condolences to all those who were touched by the work and the spirit of Mr. Janz.
Our interview with the street today includes Adrian Wilson, ERRE, Fernsehturn Berlin, Jim Avignon, Layer Cake, Miss Glueniverse, Peter Missing, Praxis, Ron Miller, Sara Lynne-Leo, Joanna Wietecka, Styro, and Toxicomano.
The brilliant Patrick Hartl & Christian Hundertmark (C100) have been at the graffiti/street art/contemporary art nexus for much of the last decade, delineating the boundaries, and then artfully shifting them.
A multi-year project now welcoming guests at Urban Nation’s Special Projects space in Berlin reveals the imprecision of terminologies and commonly-used nomenclature in this period of hyper-hybridization.
When you consider the volley of influences that bounce and collide on metro cars and street walls and digital screens these days, it makes sense to describe the experimentation now afoot as a dialogue. As the Munich-based duo called Layer Cake, the two artists have been doing exactly that with one another’s art for a half dozen years.
“One begins to paint, the other reacts,” say Hartl and Hundertmark in their recent interview for the UN website. “Thus (we) conduct an artistic dialogue. The marker asks a question, the paint can answers, the brush completes or provokes,” they say, “until both artists agree that the mural is finished.”
It is not an automatic process for graffiti writers to create work this way; as one of the basic tenets of the street, you don’t go over someone else’s work unless you mean to show disrespect or provoke a battle.
Drawing upon an eclectic selection of participants with experience on the street, the two act as curators of the new show called ‘Versus’. The rules are similar to their personal practice – produce a collaborative piece with another artist whose style and references may not match yours directly – with each contributor agreeing when the piece is complete.
The clashing and crashing can be seen on the canvass as each new addition rebalances the abstraction, and not everyone was sure it would work.
Artist Flavien Demarigny hesitated to participate versus Layer Cake because he wasn’t sure if he could work with their style that often incorporates calligraffiti techniques, he says. “As it is a major ingredient of Layer Cake‘s visual language I wasn’t sure if I was the right fit for it,” he says in a Facebook post.
“Then I remembered this is precisely what collaborations are about: pushing your limits, opening your perception, and create together new horizons. As a result, we started three collaborative pieces and one came out fantastic, which we decided to present in this show. Their choice of sticking to the repetitive pattern of my style was the wise one, so the two vocabularies can interact, as accidents make it unexpected and create the poetry of it.”
With 13 different artists passing canvasses back and forth – each adding and subtracting, obliterating and augmenting, they say that at the root of the process was a rule not to consult, but rather, react.
The results fairly wrestle under the constraints, each cutting forward, marking and gesturing and claiming space on the canvass. These works illustrate the tension you may associate with the harshly pounding street in cities, sometimes still glittering insistently despite the struggle.
“It is not easy to make an intervention in someone else’s painting,” says graffiti style-writing veteran Mick La Rock of her ingrained hesitancy during the art-making process. “You want to avoid taking the painting over and make it your own style. Every part I added to the painting was thought over at least ten times before painting it,” she says in an interview for the show.
On view in the Special Projects room near the museum, “Versus” is a sharp reminder of the community that joins together on walls and surfaces all over the world. Each style challenges the one next to it, sometimes holds it accountable, other times revealing its true nature. The curators say “The Versus Project is an artistic experiment in communication, challenging dialogue, the struggle for a final form.”
“The Versus Project” curated by Layer Cake is currently open to the general public at the Urban Nation Project Space. The exhibition will be on view until December 31, 2021. Click HERE to find more information about the exhibition, Covid protocols, and schedule.
Project space of the URBAN NATION Museum, Bülowstrasse 97, 10783 Berlin
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. Miss Van Talks about Her Show in San Francisco
2. Have You Seen The Listers?
3. Peter Phobia: I’ll Bring You Flowers
4. Layer Cake: A Dynamic Artistic Dialogue
BSA Special Feature: Miss Van Talks about Her Show in San Francisco. Video From Birdman.
“You can have any colors melting together and this kind of velvet feel and I was more into myself and introspection and humbly trying oil,” says Miss Van as she describes her journey last year toward painting with a relatively new medium for her.
Once primarily known for her work as a Street Artist it is revealing to see how this artist evolves and matures into other areas of practice. Here Miss Van shares her experiences as she prepares her Gitana series of blooming muses for her new exhibition in San Francisco. “This is very important for me to make timeless paintings. I don’t want my paintings to be just from now or just from before.”
Have You Seen The Listers?
A biopic on the way from Street Artist Anthony Lister telling the story of his search for fame and how it affects his familial relationships.
Peter Phobia: I’ll Bring You Flowers
“Over time I translated these influences into my own visual language,” says Peter Phobia as he appears to be reading his artist statement out loud.
Layer Cake: A Dynamic Artistic Dialogue
There are many layers here. The collaboration of two artists going back and forth to create something new together is infrequent but has a definite history. What supercharges the process for these two is they both feel like they are violating a long held street rule that interprets going over someone else’s work as an attempt at stealing their immortality. Stay with us as we explore more with Layer Cake in coming months.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. “Aesthetic of Eas” A film by Kristina Borhes and Nazar Tymoshchuk / MZM Projects
2. 1UP CREW (ONE UNITED POWER) HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018
3. Patrick Hartl & Christian Hundertmark’s Exclusive Debut of “Layer Cake”
BSA Special Feature: “Aesthetic of Eas” A film by Kristina Borhes and Nazar Tymoshchuk / MZM Projects
“We wanted everything to occur naturally in this movie. We wanted to achieve spontaneity,” say film makers Kristina Borhes and Nazar Tymoshchuk about their up close look at graffiti writer/abstract painter EAS. In this new film they have captured the creative spirit in action as unobtrusively as they could, allowing the artist to speak – in a way he never does, they say.
Today on BSA Film Friday we’re proud to debut this new portrait by three artists – one painter and two film makers – to encourage BSA readers to take a moment and observe, inside and outside.
The directors spoke with us about the making of the film, how they developed it, and how EAS works as an artist;
BSA: Can you talk a little about EAS and his painting history and what your connection to his work is? Kristina Borhes and Nazar Tymoshchuk: Eas started to paint graffiti in 2003. It was a classic graffiti, or at least “as classic as it could be” in Central Ukraine during early 2000’s.. He was truly addicted to lettering for more than decade, but then he started to feel entangled by the letters. Eas was confused by the the meaning of the letters, since all he wanted to do is to play with a shape, but not with the meaning. It was the moment when he made the step forward non-representational painting and became the part of East-European post-graffiti scene.
We’ve met Eas at “Black Circle” Festival in August 2015. It was a significant event for graffiti writers and graffiti-associated abstract painters, therefore we were doing our “field research” about the scene there. Even though, we were familiar with the style of Eas through the online platforms, it was the first time we saw him during the process of creation. At that moment, standing at the bottom of the swimming pool of abandoned Soviet health center and watching how the paint is splashing on the wall yet obeying the artist’s gesture; hearing the spray-can scratching the surface in order to make the finishing lines; experiencing the energy of desolated place released by Eas… At that particular moment we clearly decided that someday we will do the movie about this man. Probably, in his art, in his way of work, in his attitude and approach we felt the truthfulness which is unfortunately very rare in today’s urban and contemporary art.
BSA: How did you decide on the pacing of the film, which seems like it is suspended in a honey-like substance. KB and NT: Yeah, that was pretty much the idea. We wanted to create the feeling as if the time slows down. During those 15 minutes of film the audience should simply follow the tone of voice and deepen into the lines, the shapes, narration, to feel the depth of every word. Most likely, it’s just the way we experience the art of Eas by ourselves. If you will look at some of his artworks for a certain time you will feel how the image slowly absorbs you. We aimed to share this experience and the atmosphere which actually couldn’t be the same without the perfectly convenient soundtrack written by Berlin-based artist Shunsuke Hatori and performed by his band “SINSENSA”.
BSA: Did know that EAS was so verbally illustrative when describing his process before you began filming? KB and NT: Actually, we’re pretty sure that most of the people who know Eas in real life would be quite surprised by the openness of his narration. Eas is not much of a talker, he’s that type of the person who prefers to stay aside, alone with his thoughts and only the closest people around. Before the filming we thought that it’ll be our main challenge, well even Eas was thinking that way. Although, we believe that everything depends on the moment and the right approach. We spent a few days with Eas talking from morning till late night, we’ve met his family and even visited his grandmother. Our recorded interview lasts for almost 7 hours in overall. Frankly saying, it was an amazing experience and the real “hidden jem”. All that we wanted is to have the life talk and not the text prepared in advance. We were asking the hundreds of questions and he just had to answer it freely. That was the principle for this film. We wanted to have the spoken “flow”, just as he has it in painting. But we didn’t even expect that the “flow” will appear to be so candid, open and so truly poetical.
BSA: “When I feel good about the place it means the piece will be more accomplished. More complete” he says in the film. How did you and EAS locate the right location to do his work, and was it difficult to respect his space? KB and NT: This question hits straight to the point. To respect the space and not interfere with the “energy” between the wall and the artist during the painting process appeared to be our biggest challenge. We knew Eas and how sensitive he is regarding the “spiritual” part of the process. He will never tell that you’re distracting him, but it surely will affect the painting. None of us wanted it to be this way. That’s why it required the certain effort and respect from the both sides. Each of us did our best in order to keep the process as natural as it could be. And it seems like the spirit of the wall let us to capture the magic.
We wanted everything to occur naturally in this movie. We wanted to achieve spontaneity. Therefore, the searching for locations probably was the most interesting part. Together with Eas we were like stalkers, riding in the car through the forests, fields and villages around Kremenchuk city in search for a “zone”, a very special place which could be felt only by him.
“Aesthetic of Eas” is represented as an abstract in 5 sections. Each section (except the fifth, because it contains only artworks, not the process) is visualized by the different location and the fresh artwork in there.
First section “Place” was filmed in the village Andriyky, the village where the ancestors of Eas were living. His grandma still lives there, even though the place is almost a ghost village, only a few people are living there now. Most of the houses are abandoned. There are a lot of artworks made by Eas there. This place is exceptionally special for him.
This year Eas had a special birthday gift in early October. He was hang-gliding over the fields near the city. From the sky he saw the abandoned building in the middle of the field. Surely, he wanted to discover it. This is what he proposed us to do together. After the long journey through the forest and fields we found this mysterious building. It was the abandoned airport Nedogarki. This place definitely has a character and Eas was so excited that he did two artworks there. “Wall”, the second section of the film shows the indoor artwork and the forth section “Line” is visualized by the outdoor artwork of abandoned airport.
The place for the third section “Color” appeared accidentally in the middle of our journey around Kremenchuk. Eas noticed the concrete walls surrounded by the trees near the cornfield. It was a good example how places are finding him by themselves.
BSA: It looks like he creates some of his his own art instruments. What did you learn from watching his rhythm of painting and splattering and splashing color? KB and NT: Yeah, he’s very passionate about the new things and methods. The way how Eas works with the paint is truly mesmerizing. This is the main reason why we wanted to make a movie about him so badly. You just have to see it. The gesture, rhythm, concentration… As if he is a shaman during some mysterious ritual. At that moment you really start to think about spiritual, about the “inner necessity”, or “infinite abyss”, about expression over illustration and everything you’ve ever heard about the abstract.
Although, the most important thing is that he’s doing it not because he studied Kandinsky or Pollock, but because it really comes from the inside. You can say it by watching how purely spontaneous he is during the process of creation. Unlike the many urban and young contemporary artists Eas doesn’t do it as symbolic effort of made-up resistance, neither as pathetic attempt to proudly decorate another forsaken white cube, he just doing it, because he simply cannot not to do.
New Years celebrations in Berlin are unlike most other cities – with people exploding fireworks literally all over the entire city for hours. To add to the festivities the 1UP crew also added their own adornment to the trainline, in the middle of all the revelers and explosives.
Patrick Hartl & Christian Hundertmark’s Exclusive Debut of “Layer Cake”
The dynamic duo of Patrick Hartl & Christian Hundertmark have developed an artistic dialogue based in large part on a process of art-making that they discovered together.
Derived from the street practice of “going over” – which is normally looked upon as one artist dissing another – the two graffiti/Street Artists have refined the practice and turned it into a form to celebrate, to study, to appreciate, and turn on its head.
In this short teaser “Layer Cake” explains how it is made and gives a hint at a promising future for the artists who have challenged themselves to create something new together. We are sure there is much more to come!