All posts tagged: Matha Cooper

Layered Realities: Exploring Martin Whatson’s “InsideOutsider” / Eva Marie Bentsen

Layered Realities: Exploring Martin Whatson’s “InsideOutsider” / Eva Marie Bentsen

Martin Whatson, a Norwegian stencil artist born in 1984, has carved out a distinctive niche in the contemporary and street art worlds. His journey from street art to international acclaim is a narrative of artistic evolution and the versatility of visual language. This book, written by art dealer and curator Eva Marie Bentsen, offers a comprehensive look at Whatson’s career, from his early fascination with graffiti to his current status as a celebrated fine artist. His education at the Westerdals School of Communication in Oslo laid the groundwork for a unique blend of graphic design and urban art, defining his approach to art-making.

Early Works and Influences

The initial sections of the book explore Whatson’s early period, where his experimentation with graffiti styles and stencil art began to shape his artistic voice. These early works reveal a developing style, marked by influences from notable artists like DOLK and Banksy. During this time, Whatson started to refine his distinct blend of political themes and aesthetic appeal.

Studio Canvases and Style Development

Readers can observe Whatson’s transition from outdoor walls to studio canvases through the book. You see highlights of his exploration of urban landscapes and decay, an ongoing theme in his work and part of the lingua franca of street artists worldwide. His artistic expression, once more heavily political, has evolved into a subtler form, still retaining some of its original edge. The featured studio works exemplify this shift, demonstrating his signature combination of urban elements with a more poetic narrative. The book showcases his venture into sculpture, which allows readers to see how his themes translate into three-dimensional forms, often reflecting his familiar motifs.

Collaborations and Diverse Artistic Dialogues

The book’s concluding section focuses on Whatson’s collaborations, highlighting his interest and ability to merge his artistic vision with that of others. These joint projects, featuring a diverse range of artists, illustrate Whatson’s adaptability and his commitment to the communal spirit of street art. with a wide audience, transcending traditional boundaries of street and fine art.

This is an insightful look into Martin Whatson’s artistic journey, showcasing how he has navigated the realms of street and fine art with his authenticity – an informative resource for those interested in the intersections of modern art, street art, and the dynamic process of artistic evolution.

The book is an overview of his career thus far. You may be familiar with him here because he has been a trusty recurring participant in the Nuart Festival, championed by Stavanger curator and art dealer Martyn Reed for a decade – exposing his work to an international art press and collection of academics, writers, fans, etc. This has contributed to his success and name recognition in certain circles.


Photographer Martha Cooper takes a photo of Martin with Jaime and Steve at the opening of his exhibition at Harman Projects on September 09, 2023, in NYC. (photo courtesy ©Hama Woods)
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Martha Cooper and Elle and a Fire “Unextinguished”

Martha Cooper and Elle and a Fire “Unextinguished”

Two women, two distinct generations. The same fight for recognition, let alone to determine the direction and manner of discourse.


Martha Cooper and Elle “Unextinguished” Installation in progress. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Martha Cooper in the 1970s newspaper world found herself as the only woman photographer in a huge room full of men at the New York Post – and she was often pushed into doing “weather” related or “soft journalism” photographs because only men could be presumed to handle the important hard news like politics and crime.  Luckily for us, she didn’t accept those limitations and blasted her own path into the streets and shot what she wanted – but she had to fight for it.

In 2014 a certain kind of man still has a hard time finding space for the women to be in the game, so Elle gets hit with the vitriol often out on the street from some of the graff and Street Art dudes. Sometimes its just the banter of a beef-loving competitive spirit. Other times it takes on the undertones of gender related models of patriarchy.

Sorry Judy Chicago, the work isn’t done yet; that “feminist artist” who coined the term in the 1970s celebrates her own 75th birthday tonight in Prospect Park by spraying her pyrotechnics across the sky, but she also is under no illusion that women have reached parity in the art world, or almost any other.

Even the most fundamental expectation of mutual respect on the New York streets cannot be assumed as harassment by men is still prevalent. Obviously if women were respected on the street we wouldn’t see Tatyana Fazilazadeh creating her postering campaign with New York women called “Stop Telling Women to Smile”.


Martha Cooper and Elle “Unextinguished” Installation in progress. Elle made these dresses from printed photos of Martha Cooper’s work. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

That’s a long intro – and a sad one to have to write but the context somehow gives more power to the dual show by Cooper and Elle tonight. A combining of their skills, “Unextinguished” unites a flame of a mutual determination to take over a space and to define it.

Who knew that a  Boomer and a Millenial would enjoin in the epic battle to extinguish the bullshit and make room for experimenting with new ideas while accommodating the old ones?  For the viewers tonight it’s a juxtaposition of styles that merges into a collaboration of spirit.


Martha Cooper and Elle “Unextinguished” Installation in progress. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“We thought this had to do with a sense of history, through different generations. My pictures are all from 1978, so we are using some old school pictures but re-invigorating them with some new school techniques – like splattering them with a fire extinguisher with a sort of abandon,” says Cooper as she scans the gallery of plastered blown-up images she took thirty five years ago now newly splashed with color.

The view of her shots shown this way is an adjustment for Cooper’s eye too, but one she’s willing to go with for the spirit of collaboration.

“I wouldn’t want to see it every day –  but in the context of this rough-and-ready kind of gallery, I think its kind of cool.”

Here are some shots of the show in preparation.


Martha Cooper and Elle “Unextinguished” Installation in progress. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Martha Cooper and Elle “Unextinguished” Installation in progress. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Martha Cooper and Elle “Unextinguished” Installation in progress. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Martha Cooper and Elle “Unextinguished” Installation in progress. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Martha Cooper and Elle “Unextinguished” Installation in progress. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Elle (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Martha Cooper (photo © Jaime Rojo)


A completely extinguished extinguisher outside of the Martha Cooper and Elle “Unextinguished” Installation in progress. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Martha Cooper and Elle “Unextinguished” opens today at Mecka Gallery. Click HERE for more details.

Check out this cool video interview just released on AnimalNY.



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Daze and a Second Wall in Miami

Brooklyn born graffiti/street/fine artist DAZE completed two walls while in Miami during Art Basel 2012. The first wall done in conjunction with Wynwood Walls has been extensively documented, including a couple of great shots from Martha Cooper here on BSA.

Favoring illustration and symbols in a muralist style, Daze, who was hitting trains in the late 70s and early 80s, brings some of that New York flavor to this wall. Here are a few images along with a new timelapse video from Daze in quieter spot outside the buzz of Wynwood Art District.

DAZE. Detail. (photo © Daze)

DAZE (photo © Daze)

DAZE. Detail. (photo © Daze)


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Valentines from the Street : BSA With Love

If Street Art reflects society back to itself, and we contend that it does, then we must be in love. Among the myriad sentiments you’ll find on the street are those that are politically angry, socially strident, or comically sarcastic. Additionally we often find emotional expressions on the street that are positively loving, or lustful. Whether a sign of attainment or of aspiration, these amorous interludes let us know that feelings of longing for another are universal. Happy Valentines to you with love from the street.

Street Artist AIKO with a stencil based on a photo by Martha Cooper (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Aiko (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Boxi. Love in the times of catastrophe. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bast (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Specter’s very public declaration of love.  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Queen Andrea and Cernesto (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A sticker from Paradox (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ND’A and Labrona (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Love Me (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Chris Uphues (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bishop 203 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Adam Dare (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Untitled (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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