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Lapiztola in London – Democracia Real Ya!

Rosario Martínez Llaguno and Roberto Vega Jiménez make up the Mexican activist art duo, Lapiztola. Recently visiting London, they worked on an exhibition called ‘Democracia real ya!’, meaning ‘real democracy now!’ The exhibition was hosted by Global Justice Now (formerly the World Development Movement) and was held at Rich Mix in Shoreditch. We caught up with the guys at Lapiztola to talk about the project.

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TUES – Interview Graffiti World Record in Dubai

What happens when you bring over 100 graffiti artists together to paint one wall in one city? No, it’s not what you’re thinking. Dubai saw no punch ons or turf wars last November for the city’s ambitious attempt to break the record of the World’s Longest Graffiti Scroll.

Alongside over 100 different artists from 26 countries, the Ironlak Family made international art history by trekking their team to Dubai to take part in the painting of the record breaking scroll, measuring over 2.2km long. Created in celebration of the United Arab Emirates’ 43rd year as a country, the canvas scroll stretched across Jumeriah Beach to mark the shape of the country. The team’s efforts became a globally recognized street art and graffiti event titled ‘Rehlhatna’.

VNA catches up with Ironlak’s own TUES to chat about the crossing of graffiti artists from around the globe for a collective project.

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MEAR ONE – Urban Analogue – C.A.V.E. Gallery LA

This series of monotypes titled Urban Analogue by MEAR ONE was created over a seven-year period between 2003-2009 with the late great Southern California master printer, Pat Merrill.

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Each work from this series is unique, they are based on the artist’s subconscious exploration of his everyday structural and psychological environment growing up on the streets of LA. The spontaneous and liberating process of experimentation and execution inherent in this art form allows ad-libs of thought and subversive irony to flourish and which feature prominently in these works. Though more like his live art than his graffiti and tags, MEAR ONE draws from both practices to bring to this series a certain energy, speed, and fluidity from the streets that translate into remarkable movement, texture, and abstraction onto the surface.

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MEAR explains “As an artist one of the many interesting aspects of this personal journey is the ability to explore different mediums, and a great teacher recognizes these abilities and helps you do exactly that.”

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“Pat Merrill understood my natural affinity for the graphic arts and language that resonated seamlessly with monotyping. In printmaking you have to think outside of the normal realm of color, shape, shadow, and light gradients because everything becomes limited and decisive. Pat confronted me with several technical challenges, stripping me down of my traditional process, providing a new palette and tools, which in this case gave birth to the discovery of mark-making by scraping and removing as opposed to adding and applying. Through this reductive process I recognized in this medium something special and unique unto itself that even my studio paintings could not achieve.”

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“It was only when I accepted it couldn’t be like my paintings that I decided to make my printing reflect my process. With finished works you don’t want to show people your process, but if the intention IS the process itself then it suddenly makes the work far more exciting. And that’s exactly the point. If I’ve created something new and unique that no one was expecting, and that isn’t necessarily referenced by me, then I’ve done my job. Otherwise everything becomes a monotonous montage of what you are used to and nothing sticks out, nothing is spectacular. But Pat was insistent that I get outside of myself, find new ways of doing what I already knew so well, if only to renew and refresh the spirit.”

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“Pat Merrill was a master printer, artist, curator, teacher, scholar, philosopher, Vietnam veteran, a critical mind, an advocate for the peace movement. We shared similar world views that allowed us to vibe off one another throughout the creation of this series, and in many ways that dialogue is captured in this work. The end result, what it does for me as an artist, when I come back to my paintings it amazingly improves my realism, my structural design, or my understanding of the physical form so that there exists a symbiotic relationship wherein one supports the other. When Pat passed in 2010 he left behind this legacy of discovery. With the recent passing of another great master printer, Richard Duardo, a huge hole in Los Angeles culture was exposed and it is to these great teachers I dedicate this exhibition.”

www.mearone.com

Images courtesy of Birdman

Smates Interview – Five Years On

“Time flies when you’re having fun,” was Bart Smeets’ aka Smates’ reaction when we first told him it had been a whole five years since we last covered him here at VNA. In the meantime he has managed to achieve that closest held dream of every creative mind, to make a living from his love. Although, as he later mentioned, such an achievement has come at a cost. With an interview that was five months in the making, we touched bases with him again after all this time for an update on how things have progressed.

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Ben EINE – ‘Hand In Hand’ – ARTSPACE Dubai

Ben EINE recently unveiled his latest mural on the British Embassy, Abu Dhabi in the presence of his excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.

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Ahead of his debut solo show in the Gulf region, EINE has created a 40-metre outdoor artwork on the perimeter wall of the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi. In a truly ground-breaking moment for the art scene in the region, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan joined Her Majesty’s Ambassador Philip Parham and British Council Country Director, Marc Jessel to inaugurate the wall, with His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan taking up a spray can for the first time, to personally ‘tag’ the wall.

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JOHN KAYE – Interview

Known and respected throughout the graffiti scene for his past and present creative conquests, Australian artist JOHN KAYE has no problems getting up and going all out. More recently recognized for his ink illustrations and large-scale mural work, his art has been appearing in multiple galleries and showcases around the world.

We catch up with John to chat about his ideas, artistic integrity and creative influence.

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VNA: Talk us through some projects you’re working on at the moment.

JOHN KAYE: My main priority at the moment has just been to draw or paint something everyday. It’s been going well so far. Other than that I’ve been lucky enough to team up with a few different people to work on some collaboration stuff that has been really fun and a massive learning curve. I’ve also been working on developing some limited run clothing that hopefully I can show everyone soon and I’ve been trying to save some money for a few trips I want to go on this year.

VNA: A lot of your illustrations and print series work features poetic lines with underlining themes surrounding crime, punishment and rail transport.

‘All You See Is Crime In The City’, ‘Find The Right Ways To Do The Wrong Things’, ‘From The Cradle to the Grave’, ‘Graffiti Gets You Nowhere’, ‘Better Seen Than Heard’

Obviously these topics are a source of experience and inspiration to you, can you tell us a bit about why?

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JOHN KAYE: Traveling and graffiti have both been huge parts of my life. When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by the different graffiti everywhere I went. Generally everything I do is a form of personal expression. The work you are referring to all just relates to things that have happened around me at a certain point in time. As my experiences change, so do the things I create. If people relate to my work, or interpret it in a certain way, I think that’s a good thing. Although, it’s never really the initial intent.

VNA: Do you think your past experiences as an artist have affected your current style?

JOHN KAYE: Definitely. My experiences are the most valuable thing I have. It doesn’t matter if they are mistakes I have made, or things I have enjoyed. They will always affect what I do in some way.

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VNA: Why do you think graffiti and street influenced artists are now becoming so prevalent in the mainstream art scene?

JOHN KAYE: The Internet has probably played a massive part in that happening. Everybody today has access to so much more information. Obviously people are constantly pushing boundaries and everything is always developing. So I guess as things evolve and change, people begin to pay more attention and the audience naturally grows.

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VNA: It seems ironic that artists such as yourself who’ve come from such colourfully illicit artistic backgrounds are now being commissioned by the same individuals and associations who once strongly opposed the art form. What’s your opinion on this?

JOHN KAYE: Personally I’m very particular about who I choose to work with. I feel like the individuals and associations who once strongly opposed the art form haven’t really been converted into enthusiasts of any sort. All that’s happening is that they are becoming more aware of the possibility to use artwork to there own advantage.

In my experience when I’ve had offers to work with certain people, it’s easy to tell what their motivations are. Sometimes they are very genuine and other times it’s because they are looking to use controlled artwork as a solution to a problem, or something that they can benefit from. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with that. I think it’s great that people are open minded enough to take these things into consideration. I just feel that it’s extremely important as an artist to understand why you are doing something in the first place, and then to continuously keep that in mind as you carry on with whatever you decide to do.

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VNA: Tell us about home.

JOHN KAYE: Haha, okay. Home at the moment is a confusing subject. I feel like Melbourne is the closest thing to being home. When I was really young I moved around all the time between a bunch of different towns and cities. Nothing has really changed. I still have trouble spending very long in one place. Recently though, I’ve been spending the majority of my time on the Gold Coast. I have some very patient friends that have tolerated me leaving my belongings all over the place and have been kind enough to let me stay with them from time to time, which is lucky.

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VNA: You’re heading to Melbourne next week, yeah? What’s on the cards?

JOHN KAYE: A friend of mine is opening a burrito bar with a skate bowl in Melbourne next month and I’ve been working on some illustrations for him, so it seemed like a good enough excuse. I try to spend as much of my spare time down there as I can. I really enjoy painting in Melbourne. The weather is nice and the days are long.

VNA: If you could work with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

JOH KAYE: If I can pick someone who’s deceased, I’d probably say Nicola Tesla. He had such crazy ideas and visions to create things that would have massive impacts and he continued to work towards them no matter how insane he appeared. If that’s not allowed, then I would probably have to go with Jay Z. Everything he does, he does well.

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www.johnkayeart.com / @johnkayeart

 Image Credit John Kaye Art and Tim Caraco

‘Art & Life’ – Work-Shop Australia

Currently based in Sydney and Melbourne, Work-Shop is a creative concept that claims it will broaden your horizons and help you unleash your inner awesome. Their Sydney digs are also engulfed in some pretty dope art. We recently caught the 23rd Key stencil workshop, and whilst there ran into co-founder Chester. He spills the beans…..

Damo: What is Work-Shop?

Chester: Work-Shop is all about creativity and community. We run a really fun range of classes taught by a rock-star line up of Australia’s finest creative talent. You can learn anything from aerosol art and typography through to tattoo illustration and screen printing. Our aim is to help people unleash their inner awesome and give them skills to live a creatively enriched life.

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Remi Rough Studio Visit…

A couple of weeks ago, I got the opportunity to drop in to the studio of Mr Remi Rough.

Remi  (featured in VNA issue 18) has been involved in the London graffiti scene since the 1980’s and now as well as still being active in the mural scene he has carved a very successful art career with exhibitions in galleries in Paris, Perth, Tokyo, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hong Kong and more.

Nestled deep in South London’s Peckham/East Dulwich area, the studio was bustling with new work and a couple of older gems that where waiting to be taken to his new ‘Previously’ retrospective show at Morgan Furniture. This show is a little different as Remi explained as its a selection of older pieces ranging from 2009 – 2012 with some totally unseen work from that era.

The exhibition runs from the 11th -27th March Mon-Fri, 9.30-5.30

Morgan Showroom
1 Dallington Street, Clerkenwell,
London EC1V 0BH UK

Have a look at some of our exclusive snaps from the studio visit…

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