All posts tagged: MRKA

BSA HOT LIST: Books For Your Gift Giving 2019

BSA HOT LIST: Books For Your Gift Giving 2019

The ephemeral qualities of art in the streets are effectively contradicted by this site, and we have captured much in the time we’ve been documenting the scene. Even, so, it is primarily digital, our work, our gift to you. If you want something of more lasting value, buy a book.

This year we had the pleasure of reviewing a number of books, and even appeared in a few ourselves with text and photos. If you’re looking for a lovely gift for the graffiti/Street Art/ Urban Art/ Contemporary Urban Art fan in your life, have a look at this list – our Hot List of 2019.

Futura 2000 “Full Frame” by Magda Danysz

From BSA:

Futura Goes “Full Frame” by Magda Danysz

One benefit of being ahead of your time is that you can paint your own rules, discover your own voice, set a standard. A drawback is that you may have to push forward on your own before you gain support for what you are pursuing. The key is to keep moving.

As Futura pulls fully into the frame of contemporary artist, its important for upcoming artists to remember that he had a long route – including being a bike messenger on Manhattan’s untamed streets to provide for his family – while he was waiting until the rest of the street and art world caught up with him. Now that Street Art has confirmed that his abstract explorations on subway trains were an early sign of what was coming, brands and gallerists and collectors often call. “Full Frame” helps appreciate the body of work he developed during that time.

Hendrik Beirkich: “Siberia”

From BSA:

Hendrik Beikirch Traces Lives and Memories in “Siberia”

A corollary to 2015’s “Tracing Morocco” by German street artist Hendrik Beirkirch (aka ECB), a new book travels to meet the rugged inhabitants of Siberia’s countryside in the Russian Federation. The results are starkly genuine, impressively authentic.

Again indulging us in the deep crevasses of many a weathered façade, Siberia invites you to meet the people whom he has met in his travel and presumably befriended, given their ease as subjects. A part of the Jardin Rouge stable over the past few years, Beirkirch has followed the lead of founder Jean Louis Haguenauer, the Frenchman who moved to Russia in the early 1980s and found his own odyssey outside the city to be formative to his character, leading him to write the introduction to the handsome tome.

“Graffiti In New York Hardcore” by Freddy Alva

From BSA:

Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore

A welcome and necessary addition to any graffiti academic’s library comes Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore, carefully documented by Freddy Alva. A thorough recounting of the birth and growth of graffiti through the lense of punk and hardcore scenes after 1980, Alva presents a parallel evolution of a scene as it was interpreted by a largely white constituency of rockers, anarchists, and rebels who grew up in and around New York at that time.

Alva is careful to give due to the graffiti scene that is more often identified as the roots of this practice of urban mark making; the hip-hop culture of primarily black and latino youth during the 1960s and 1970s. As the neoliberal corporate capitalists took over Wall Street and the Reagan White House, a different sort of graffiti writer was often showing up on the street – and often on stage as part of a hardcore band.

“Smashed: The Art Of The Sticker Combo” by I Will Not

From BSA:

SMASHED: The Art of the Sticker Combo by “I Will Not”

Anyone born after 1960, and that includes most sticker artists on the street today, has a positive association with the humble sticker. From “smiley” and “gold star” rewards stuck to the top of your grade-school class papers to scratch-n-sniff or puffy stickers to MAD magazine product parodies for Quacker Oats and Minute Lice, a lot of kids grew up with good feelings about slaps.

Over the past two decades a serious community of sticker designers, traders, artists, exhibitors and collectors has emerged – virtually assuring that public bathrooms in heavy metal/ punk / hip hop/ alternative music clubs will be covered top to bottom or ‘smashed’ with stickers. Adhesive equivalents of a business card or portfolio sample for many artists, musicians, philosophers, anarchists, and wise guys/gals, stickers are a quick and relatively inexpensive way to get your message out to the world.

“The Rap Quotes Coast To Coast” by Jay Shells

From BSA:

Jay Shells: The “Rap Quotes” Book

Context and placement are key to the success of Street Art. Jay Shells’s project, “The Rap Quotes” more than meets those standards. Indeed his project might be one of the most relevant examples of street art responding to a specific time and place in history that you’ll ever see.

We’ve been repping Jay Shells (Jason Shelowitz) for years since we first found his text-based signage on Brooklyn streets in the oddest of locations. Within a short time they began to make sense, and then brilliant sense – since they acted as a GPS for some of your favorite rap lyrics. 

“What if somehow these lyrics existed visually, in the exact location mentioned?” he says to illustrate his original idea.

“Flowers” by Michael De Feo

From BSA:

Michael De Feo “FLOWERS”

Amid the detritus of the urban cityscape in decline, it is a welcome contrast to see a dandelion or wild daisy sprouting up from a crack in the sidewalk. Not only is it a reminder of the original inhabitants of the land you are standing on it is an ever-present truth that the plants and the trees and the animals will inherit the earth again, no matter what grand ideas you have for it.

The simplest symbol of nature in the layered debris of urban margins, and a decorative one, is the flower that Micheal De Feo has been “planting” on walls since the early 1990s. The practice has sustained him through many cities and travels abroad, introducing him to artists and fans and collectors, eventually pushing him into explorations of contemporary art.

“Street Art Las Vegas” by William Shea and Patrick Lai

From BSA:

“Street Art Las Vegas” Takes a Tour Beyond the Strip

Before there was a scene in Las Vegas, there was a scene in Las Vegas.

Not in just the shimmering, drink slamming, dice rolling, pink-fur bikini with a rhinestone choker kind of way – that’s the real Las Vegas scene that you may think of – but in the urban art scene as well.

In this context, the Las Vegas graffiti/Street Art scene that existed in the 1990s and 2000s that led up to a massive “Meeting of Styles” in 2012 was lively and varied and leaned more toward lettering, handstyle, and characters. Later, beginning in 2013 with a music/art festival called “Life is Beautiful”, a select group of international Street Artists was paid by public and private interests to help the city tap into a growing interest in urban decoration with eye-popping murals.

“Stencillists / Pochoiristes” by Serge Louis

From BSA:

“Stencilists / Pochoiristes” Cuts Across the Street Scene Gallantly, with Serge Louis

Enthusiastic authors like Serge Louis can make Street Art sing, even in print. His new “Stencilists/Pochoiristes” is a finely illustrated hardcover of iconic images from the street. The carefully selected plates are placed within interviews in French and English.

The 17 stencillists whom he has selected are from a populated field of possibilities but he captures a fair range from his travels in Europe – with a few from the US to compliment them.

“Utility Writers” by MRKA

From BSA:

MRKA Gives High Marks to “Utility Writers” in Unique Street Tome

When academics and post-modern esoteric poets plunge into descriptions of graffiti sometimes they proffer colorful didactics and clever terminology like “mark-making” and “gestural” to describe the tagging practice. Conceptualist, graffiti writer, and multimedia artist MRKA takes a step toward the mundane and discovers a new kind of poetry with his “Utility Writers”.

“Stickers Vol 2: More Stuck Up Crap” by DB Burkeman

From BSA:

Stickers Vol. 2: More Stuck-Up Crap from DB Burkeman

In the Street Art continuum that presents itself to the passerby on city streets, the early practice of hand-drawn tags on stolen postal stickers eventually morphed into mass-produced slick runs of personal branding and large scale one-off hand rendered/cut paper pieces wheat-pasted with a brush. This story, ever-evolving, is more inclusive than some may think of when you talk generically about “slaps” on a door or on the base of a streetlamp in the city’s visual dialogue. For the book Stickers Vol 2, author DB Burkeman takes a wider survey of the practice, however, and in his second compendium, he goes where BSA has always followed the creative spirit; wherever it leads.

Dont Fret “Life Thus Far”

From BSA:

Dont Fret: “Life Thus Far”

Nothing to lose your head about, but you’ll be thrilled to hear about the long-anticipated release of the new monograph by the ingenious troublemaker and largely incognito Chicago Street Artist DONT FRET.

Emerging on the streets for a decade or so with painted wit and misshapen characters wheat-pasted where you least expect them, he’s the sharp observer and human humorist whose work is as brilliant as your cousin Marlene, as funny as Johnny at the funeral home, as handsome as the guys behind the counter at Publican Quality Meats.

Well, maybe not that handsome.

Various & Gould “Permanently Improvised”

From BSA:

Various & Gould and a Collaged Human Future: “Permanently Improvised”

“Our early conceptions about a future robot world were made from what we knew about automation and mechanics. Thankfully the surrealists and Dadaists were there to help us with flying ships made of tea pots and mystic, amiable metal helpers soldered and screwed together with spare train pistons and kitchen implements. Our helpers were all carefully oiled and pumping, marching in a mathematical concert through dry-ice fog, propelling herky-jerky humanoids up the path to the thoroughly modern world.

Do Rabotniki exist? They are already here. It just took Various & Gould to remind us.”

~ Steven P. Harrington in his essay “A Mixed and Matched Future-Past: Robotiniki” for “Permanently Improvised: 15 years of Urban Print Collage” by Various & Gould

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MRKA Gives High Marks to “Utility Writers” in Unique Street Tome

MRKA Gives High Marks to “Utility Writers” in Unique Street Tome

When academics and post-modern esoteric poets plunge into descriptions of graffiti sometimes they proffer colorful didactics and clever terminology like “mark-making” and “gestural” to describe the tagging practice. Conceptualist, graffiti writer, and multimedia artist MRKA takes a step toward the mundane and discovers a new kind of poetry with his “Utility Writers”.

Utility Writers by MRKA. Wallplay. NYC

Paying homage to the physical expression as well as the visual one, MRKA re-frames the fluorescent utility symbols that construction crews communicate with and rely upon. Here he helps you see it as art and communication in his uniquely bright look at mark-making. In interviews with professionals who he features spraying the streets, you also learn that there is a certain pride of creation that overlaps the braggadocio of graffiti writers who hit up walls across cities.

A limited edition book that was released to commemorate the solo exhibition that he procured in Manhattan last fall, “Utility Writers” also presents the MRKA’s own crafted alphabet derived from the directional urban hieroglyphics that we see and are blind to on our daily trip through the city.

Perhaps it is their individual flair and sense of expression to which he is most drawn; It’s “the endless possible interpretations of these symbols, and ultimately the individuals involved, who write,” he says when describing his experience capturing the collection of works on New York City asphalt and its sidewalks between 2016 and 2018.

“No matter where humans are or go, there is a good chance you may find a mark or story being told,” says Brazilian pixação writer and billboard crusher Sabio in an essay in which he tells us this need to leave something in public space is universal.

“The human hand can hold things, but more importantly it can mark a surface. For thousands of years we have left the writing on the wall, or in many cases, the ground. Look around you and find secret messages calculated and hidden everywhere. We live in big cities and a performance of shapes exist right beneath our feet.”

Study the method, study the panache, study the complete alphabets he has distilled, and you can understand the intensity of dedication MRKA employs to help draw the parallels.

“…As the book shows, both construction workers and graffiti writers share a bent toward creative expression through letter forms,” says filmmaker Selina Miles here. “I think this book suggests that if these two seemingly disparate groups have so much in common, maybe the compulsion to write your name on shit is just one of the basics of human nature.”

Utility Writers. Designed and edited by MRKA. Cover Spray by Lebron718. NYC.

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Studio Visit with MRKA : Graffiti and Branding

Studio Visit with MRKA : Graffiti and Branding

“Graffiti and branding are the same thing; One is legal and one is illegal.”

BSA Contributor Rosanna Bach visited MRKA for a studio visit and they talked about the intersections of the street, the Internet, branding, commercialism, and graffiti. Here is what she found:

At 23, New York based Lucas Benarroch (MRKA) is like a lot of artists who started out writing in the streets – in his case the streets of Madrid. Often he collaborates with San Francisco based Nicolas Linares (NKO) and in 2010 they formed a duo called Pillasbros (or Pillas) and they have worked together on projects for “Secret Wars” in Brooklyn and in Wynwood, Miami. MRKA crisscrosses all mediums and medias as an outlet, whether it be his murals, graphic artwork or branding projects allowing his shapes, symbols and ideas to evolve organically.

“Machine Fun” by MRKA for Pillas. Wynwood, Miami. 2012 (photo © MRKA)

I arrive to his apartment/studio on a sunny morning and he opens the door fresh out of bed, but immediately gets into action mode. “I want to show this and this, and what if we take the photo over here? What do you think?”  I laugh. Inside the rather generic “cookie cutter” apartment I find a world of prints, paintings, and stickers…

Rosanna Bach: You work on the majority of your murals with NKO. Can you describe that working relationship?
 I like to work with someone because there are two opinions. There are always two heads thinking about where to put the next shape or where to draw the next hand or tree. Our styles are completely different; He is more into characters and I’m more into texturing and geometries and the balance of the whole — and that’s what creates Pillas. I’m going a little more abstract, Nico keeps me more focused. He’s a serious man and I’m a little more distracted, so it’s a nice conjuncture of two styles. In terms of MRKA I don’t know if it’s a brand or just a lovely percussion instrument. I don’t know what it is yet. For now I’m just doing the projects I think are worth doing like the project for the Wutang Brand or the “Pillas Submarine” I painted with NKO in Miami last summer.

“Pillas Submarine” by Pillas (MRKA & NKO). Wynwood, Miami. 2012 (photo © Victor Alarcon)

Rosanna Bach: What makes a project worth doing?
 You have to think about if you’re motivated for it, if you’ll enjoy it or if it will be a pain. The relationship with the person you do the deal with is very important. I just put a MRKA on the cool shit that I do even if it’s commercial. Doing collaborations with commercial brands doesn’t bother me — That’s how the world works and you’ve got to eat. But you choose which brands you do and don’t want to work with. I mean why not? As long as you keep it personally artistic and you do what you want and not strictly what the brand wants, you’re good.

Rosanna Bach: Tell me, what’s the Maraca (MRKA) about?
 Just like people who have put their logo or their symbol or their icon all over the place — like “BNE” for example — it’s just a way to get attention from people. And then you can do whatever they want with it; in his case he built a water foundation.  The MRKA is used the same way. You see it on a coffee package or on a mural or on the Internet. It’s like a hashtag on Instagram — a way to link all your works. I mean I feel like social media stole tagging from graffiti…. basically it’s branding.

MRKA “His House”. Detail. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Rosanna Bach: But branding for what exactly?
 Consciously or unconsciously you brand yourself little by little. It’s great when they find out your work is not just little stickers and little tags. It could bring you an exhibition with five screens or a mural in the Bronx. Graffiti and branding are the same thing; One is legal and one is illegal. I’m not sure which is which anymore since everything in this world crosses over these days. I’m mixing it. One guy told me today you have to focus, so I did the opposite. That is what a MRKA is. If you open it you’ll see all the sand inside, those grains are my ideas and my exhibits and the mailboxes I tag and all the things I wish to do. They just move around and shake and suddenly some of them get together to make a bigger noise…and that’s when the joy comes because something is born.

Rosanna Bach: So what would you say your work is about?
 It’s about seeing a final physical product of my idea (He smiles). I love seeing that physical thing after I had a dream or a thought and two days or a couple of months, maybe years later, it’s there. You make your own little world you try new techniques new materials. It’s like having a physical Facebook.

MRKA “His House” (photo © Rosanna Bach)

Rosanna Bach: Street or gallery? Does it matter?
 I don’t think much — just do what you feel like doing that day. Because if you obsess over street or gallery, artist or designer, matte or glossy — you end up doing nothing at all. Don’t think too much, just shake well.

Rosanna Bach: Some use it as a chance to cast an opinion outward into the world.
I don’t do that. Mine is straight art, I just do it in the street. Because it’s pure art. It’s not street art as something profound or subliminal. It s more related to graffiti as here I am and it s related to the fine art here I am but I m not just fucking up your wall I’m doing it here instead of on a canvas and I m going to share it with you. The street is cool because you can go huge and you don’t have to move it. There’s no secondary intention apart from this is what I do I hope you like it call me if you need anything.

Rosanna Bach: It is just as simple as that?
 It comes from inside. It comes from the desire to do things well and just doing in general. It’s a reflection of how I like geometry and balance and branding and graffiti and how I put it all together. It’s about making a shape recognizable. It could be a circle or a square, it could be anything, but it’s how you use it where it can become something good. How high can you get this symbol? – not in the sense of fame but in the sense of how much can it involve? I do all sorts of things within the same realm under this umbrella. My MRKA is as simple as that.

MRKA (photo © Rosanna Bach)

New drawings (in process) by Pillas (NKO + MRKA) (photo © Rosanna Bach)

MRKA. Jack and Queen from Royal Flush Series. (photo © Rosanna Bach)

MRKA (photo © Rosanna Bach)




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