If you follow the Graffuturism blog you're probably aware of its writer and curator - Poesia. He is one of the pioneers of abstract graffiti and a member of the Transcend collective who helped popularise this particular form of graffiti, pushing new styles into the public eye as the movement continues to gather momentum and break boundaries. This weekend on 14th December, White Walls Gallery in SF plays host to L'Avenir, a group exhibition that acts as an international survey of the Graffuturism movement and features Augustine Kofie (US), Borondo (Spain), Chazme (Poland), Clemens Behr (Germany), Doze Green (US), Duncan Jago (UK), Part2ism (UK), Poesia (US), Robert Proch (Poland), Sainer (Poland) and Vesod (Italy). We've been following the progression that many of these artists have been making for a while and we caught up with Poesia just ahead of the show to put a few questions to him. Arrested Motion (AM): First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your background? I know you’ve been pounding walls since the 90s, but do you have any formal art schooling at all? You seem to have a broad knowledge of historical art movements as well as an encyclopedic grasp of graffiti culture… Poesia Transcend (PT): I have no formal training other than a semester or two in junior college. I have always been the type of person that delves into whatever I’m focused on - studying and learning has always been important to me. Coming from the early nineties scene, I was able to learn the history of New York graffiti through books about subway and spray can art but I was really able to see the scope of graffiti through sharing flicks and writing other artists internationally. During the magazine era pre-internet I was able to see the potential early on of a global art form. Through graffiti, I was introduced to art and I also set out to learn as much about art history as I could. I thought if I was to become an artist I should learn about that history as well. AM: And of course you’re part of the Transcend collective. How did you come to run with that crew? PT: I don’t know how Joker found me but I was honored when he reached out to me and later asked me to be part of Transcend. I was influenced by his work and ability to think progressively, so maybe he saw something in me. AM: Being such a global entity, how does Transcend communicate ideas and ideals? I’m very familiar with long distance art relationships myself, but I’m interested how you guys do it. PT: It’s tough because everyone is so busy but we always support each other whether it’s a phone call, text or email. In the early days of Transcend, Joker and the collective were integral in myself being able to do some of the things I wanted to do artistically. Knowing that you have this support system that will have your back fail or succeed on a concept or idea makes it a lot easier to take risks. I think Transcend was that support group for me that no matter what I did they would understand and give me feedback positive and negative. We try to do the same today but with four new members in the last couple of years, I'm excited to see what we can accomplish in the future. AM: Your moniker translates as 'poetry.' How did you come by that name? Did anyone in particular bestow it upon you? It seems particularly fitting in the here and now, particularly with the fine art work you are producing lately, but how has your work evolved over time? PT: By chance really, only later did I find out the meaning. I have come to appreciate it over time not particularly because of my work but because I felt graffiti was always a bit like poetry but in a visual way. I think my work up till now has been working through the ideas that I have had before when I first starting painting. Early on ,you have this rush of ideas yet maybe the timing wasn’t right or your skills and experience weren’t there yet. Today, if anything has evolved, it is my ability to be at the right place to work on these concepts and ideas finally. AM: You mix your time up between painting walls, a career as a fine artist, a curator and a prolific blogger. How do you find that time to cram all these different roles in your life? PT: I don't. Sometimes I take on too much and one of them is always going to suffer, and I am ok with that. I never thought I would be anything other than an artist, but the more I read online and witnessed what was being exhibited in galleries, the more I saw we needed new perspectives, not an artists perspective but from someone with some understanding of the art form and where it might be headed. As a whole, I try my best to do all my current roles justice, but I can’t wait till others take the slack so I can focus more on my painting. AM: On the subject of the blog, Graffuturism is one of my favorite reads out there and has been for some time. Your passion for the movement comes through in your writing. What was it that motivated you to start writing the blog? PT: At first, it was about getting familiar with the scene and artists again, and that led me to find a large amount of artists that weren't being represented at all online, so I figured why not me and why not a basic blog to showcase these artists. I had no idea how to manage a blog let alone create one but thanks to YouTube I figured it out. AM: And you do it all pretty much by yourself? Trust me, I know how much time it can take up even with a team of writers that we have at AM! PT: Yes, most of the writing is by myself there are a handful of people that contribute articles also from time to time, but the daily is just me. I have gotten used to it though and learned so much running the blog; one of these days I'll find a suitable intern. AM: The blog and the artists you cover have pretty much generated a movement, or certainly at least coined a phrase that people now identify a particular style of art by. How have you seen the blog grow since the early days? Has it been satisfying to reach out and connect with similar minds the world over? PT: Its been one of the most satisfying feelings I have ever had creating anything, not because it has grown to be as big as it has but because the feedback I receive from so many of the artists I respect. Being able to create something and having that intention connect with the right people is amazing. One of the most important aspects of the blog is that it has brought together not just myself but so many other artists with each other. I think most of artists know what its like to be part of a crew as a graffiti artist, or maybe a collective as an artist but Graffuturism is one of those things that transcends both a crew and collective. It's a road that we all were traveling but didn’t realize that others were on that same road, or maybe we did know but never stopped to say hello and interact with each other. The collaborations that have already happened with some of the artists are remarkable - Jaybo/Kofie, Clemens Behr/CDB, Mr Jago/Myself, Remi Rough/Nawer, Sat One/Roids, the list goes on. Being able to be a part of that is humbling not only as an artist but a fan of art as well. AM: Which I guess leads us onto your role as a curator. You have a trans-global collective of artists in your upcoming curatorial project L’Avenir. How did your selection process lead you to the participants in the show? PT: Knowing that I was going to be writing my first curatorial statement, I knew I wanted to showcase a wider range of aesthetics. I also wanted to lower the amount of artists in the group show compared to past shows of 20-40 artists and we narrowed it down to 11. Because of past shows where certain artists were able to participate already, I could now focus on a mix of past artists and new ones like Borondo, and Robert Proch. Being able to bridge not only a legend but also a relevant contemporary painter like Doze Green with Kofie is amazing. Graffuturism is sometimes seen as an abstract movement, but I don’t think there is any one style that makes anyone more part of the group or not. We all have our own influences outside of graffiti/urban art thus of course we will have a wide range of aesthetics and concepts. AM: And what about the work itself? Did you instigate any controls over the creation of work for the show, or let the individual artists just do their thing? PT: Because we had a small group we didn’t need to restrict the artists to any size or amount of work - it was up to them to exhibit what they like. I chose the artists because of their individual work and didn’t want to get in the way of that work or hinder any part of that process. AM: Was working with White Walls on this project an important decision for you? I’m wondering how the show came about? PT: Many don’t know the full story of how Graffuturism started other than just a blog, but the backstory is the week before I started the blog Kofie and Remi Rough had planned to be in town for a show. Joker from Transcend flew down to see Remi and we all planned to paint together. We ended up painting collaborative wall together, and then ended the night at a group show at White Walls Gallery where Remi Rough and Kofie were exhibiting new work. The show also introduced me for the first time to the work of Jaybo Monk, and in a way brought us all together. I made the blog the next week. So having our first show in San Francisco at White Walls Gallery made perfect sense to me. AM: Taking cue from the title of the show, how do you see the future of graffiti, and in particular the Graffuturism movement panning out? PT: Graffuturism I think will be swallowed eventually into the larger neo-contemporary art scene but we will definitely have our moment. One of the biggest reasons for our success as an art form is our ability to engage the public and our own generations. The contemporary art world on the other hand is failing to engage anyone other than the intellectuals and elitists that their institutions cater to. For this reason I see a bright future for our art form. AM: What's next for you in your many avenues of output after L'Avenir? PT: Hopefully more time painting that’s where I need to focus my attention. With more blogs like Arrested Motion covering many of our artists, it's great to see so maybe I can relax a little bit. I have some other shows in the works Italy is an option for a large group show in 2014 and I’m working on a A4 show coming up in March with over 100 artists. AM: Many thanks for taking time out do the interview Poesia. We wish you all the very best with L’Avenir. Pictures from L'Avenir courtesy of the Curator. Poesia portrait by Jerome Coton.
For us here at AM, Cyclops has been one of the most interesting, and certainly most talented gallery artists to come from the contemporary graffiti world in the UK. His work has seen him revolve back and forth from using his real name to the moniker he was given whilst painting with the much lauded and sadly missed Burning Candy crew. The Way of All Flesh is very much a Cyclops show though - and what a show it appears to be. The exhibition features a series of still life oil paintings first displayed last year at a two person exhibition in London (covered here), where graphically rendered basketballs, Jesus and skeletal statues prompt an appreciation of his skills as an oil painter. A huge evolutionary leap has been made in his painting style in the last couple of years. This is displayed brilliantly in the updated paintings from his baroque-styled Teenage Phantasm series where he has introduced a new level of opulence within his subject matter. Add to this the wonderful vanitas still life paintings featuring skulls, flowers and baseball caps, and you have a show not to be missed. The Way of All Flesh opens on Thursday 28th November, and runs through to Xmas eve at the Outsiders Gallery in London. Discuss Cyclops here.
New York-based artist Clark Goolsby opens his new solo this coming weekend. The exhibition is aptly entitled Shatter, as Goolsby's artworks are quite literally explosive. Shards and threads of found elements are combined within his pieces to create his multi-layered compositions. This show uses collage-based elements created by the artist alongside his assorted paint mediums of acrylic, ink and spray paint with the works being a reflection on the frenetic world in which we live, an exploration on finding order in a world that is constantly barraging us with information. The exhibition opens Saturday November 23rd 2013 at Circuit 12 Contemporary in Dallas and will run through January 2nd 2014. Check out some preview images courtesy of the artist below.
Made in China is a group show with a difference. Within it, you’ll see work from the likes of D Young V, Akira Beard, Jessica Hess (pictured above), Ernesto Yerena and Eddie Colla amongst others. You’ll also see counterfeit reproductions of the artworks presented alongside the original pieces. Curator Eddie Colla invited a group of artists to create a painting each and then sent photos of all the work to a Chinese factory to be reproduced by artists who make copies of Monets and Picassos for a living. The exhibition forces us to consider originality, intellectual property and the value of creativity. It’s an interesting paradigm, and one that is at the forefront of the designer goods market. Just gotta have that Louis Vuitton bag, but can’t afford the real thing? Buy one at a fraction of the price from the back of a truck! This is of course seen as illegal and underground, but the ‘factory’ that Colla sourced for the job operates legitimately in China from an advertised business premises. The preview images here show more side by side work from D Young V - plus a glimpse into the factory in China and one of the Chinese fake artists making and displaying the completed goods. Catch the opening if you can – the show will surely instigate debate as to the value of art presented to us. The show opens November 8 at Ian Ross Gallery in SF.
We recently visited Mary Iverson's studio as she finished up works for her Sunk exhibition, opening on November 7th at the Davidson Galleries in Seattle. After receiving an art grant, Mary traveled to Yosemite National Park in order to gain some source material for her wonderful landscape paintings. In addition to the photographs she takes for reference, she also takes the opportunity to paint at location with water colors. These smaller pieces are most dear to her heart since they were created while surrounded by the natural beauty of the surroundings. But back in the studio is where the larger oil paintings are created. Mary's landscapes will smack you in the face with notions on how consumerism has taken over our culture. Overlaid upon the scenery you will find colorful rectangles representing shipping containers, as well as the ships they arrive on. Etched into the paint are intersecting lines representing not only their travels across the globe, but also how connected they are with everyday life. Most of the "stuff" we use on a daily basis was shipped in one of these containers. This "stuff" is slowly taking over our vision, which begs the question as whether the natural beauty of the planet will matter much when our heads are buried in the latest phone or gadget. With an ever growing populace, how long can the planet sustain such a culture? Mary's studio is located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, which has its own marina and locks, and barges can be seen from the shore, traversing to or from the their respective ports. Dismantled and decaying ship photographs hang above her desk, as well as paper ships that she uses to aid in the layout of a piece. A cozy couch adorns the middle of the room, cascaded by ambient natural light and several bookcases brimming with reading material.
On Thursday, Nov. 7, Stephen Webster (in its No Regrets lounge) in Beverly Hills, CA will open a show of works by Mat Collishaw featuring his Last Meal on Death Row works. This series features meticulously-arranged staged photography still lifes based on death row inmates' last meals before they are executed. The eerie subject of the images conflict with the style in which they are depicted: 17th century Vanitas paintings - a manner traditionally used to explore the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the inevitability of death. Foods and drinks that we normally take for granted as ordinary or mundane, such as cheeseburgers or Coke take on an added layer of poignant meaning and the pictures transform into portraits of their respective unseen execution inmate. This is the first in Stephen Webster's The Last Supper Party series of events (more info on that at a later time) that will encompass the world of fine jewelry, art, and food. The opening is from 7pm-10pm and requires a RSVP, which can be performed by emailing: RSVPBH@stephenwebster.com