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Blek Le Rat – ‘Ratical’

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Vertical Gallery celebrates their four year anniversary with Blek le Rat, the founder of the international stencil art movement. The exhibition “Ratical” opens on Saturday April 1, 6:00 – 10:00pm. The artist will be in attendance.

Blek Le Rat (Xavier Prou) was born in Paris, France in 1951. Considered one of the originators of the European street art movement, Blek le Rat inspired hundreds of artists around the world with his stenciled style. He is frequently cited as a major influence of artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey; and through his work in Paris he established a style of urban art that quickly spread through Europe and the United States.

Blek describes his early work as apolitical, explaining that he just wanted a way to stand out and to free himself from the feeling of anonymity caused by living in a major city. He was one of the first people to use stencils to make public art on the street using icons instead of writing his name. He started decorating the streets of Paris in 1981 with a rat stencil, hoping to create an invasion of rats – “the only free animal in the city”, while creating a style that would suit Paris and not copy the American style. His street name is said to originate from a childhood cartoon “Blek Le Roc”, also using “rat” as an anagram for “art”.

He studied fine art and architecture at Beaux-Arts in Paris, graduating in 1982. Before his graduation, Prou visited New York City and developed a fascination with the city’s graffiti and street art. “To me, the most interesting aspect of street art is the constant opportunities to be surprised and/or amazed. I lose interest when something becomes routine”.

Blek has created street art around the world, and has had exhibitions in Paris, London, New York, Milan, Melbourne, San Francisco, Munich, and Los Angeles.

Blek le Rat – “Ratical”
April 1 – 29, 2017
Opening reception with artist, Saturday, April 1, 6:00 – 10:00 pm.
Vertical Gallery, 1016 N Western Ave., Chicago

@blekleratoriginal

Headset Apparel Exhibition

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Cycling and mental health awareness project Headset open their first show, Wednesday 29th March 6pm – 9pm. The exhibition shows until Sunday 2nd April at M2 Gallery 4/450 Elizabeth St Surry Hills

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PORNO!

Melbourne is known worldwide for its graffiti, and has many crews with a number of big names. One of these names is PORNO. Having recently dropped his very first print, we thought it best to catch the man from his lair at Everfresh Studio to get the low down.

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photo: p1xels

Damo: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Porno: Sure. I write Porno… ISO, CDF, LED, STD, 321, ADC, INN, WS4, WSO, ID.

I’ve been writing graff for 22 years. I started painting in 1994. My painting was originally influenced directly through hip-hop, older friends, older brothers and the people I hung out with as a hyperactive kid.

I pretty much started DJing, B-Boying, trying to MC and was part of the start a crew called “ISO” which was a hip-hop crew. Many years later that I was only really interested in painting graff. I ended up working in signage and doing a design degree. From there on I decided I wanted to get into my own signage biz because it was the most relevant thing to painting at the time for me. I had worked for numerous signage companies, became a production manager, and became really interested in production, manufacturing and technology which changed a lot of my perception of my art and my processes.

Painting is how I first I started to intertwine with people of the culture. At one point I stepped away from painting all together for a couple of years (around 2006 or 2007). I got back into it around 2008-2009 when I decided I would set up my own signage business. I met with all the guys from ‘Per Square Metre’ and got back into graffiti painting with more positive people and a fresh outlook. I ended up setting up another separate studio after ‘Per Square Metre’ ended called ‘Safe House Studio’ where it was a similar sort of vein; a heap of graffiti artists and artists who ran their own businesses from there and worked together on numerous creative projects, murals etc. The studio got its title from a police raid which occurred within the first month of opening. One of the transit police officers claimed it was a graffiti safe house!

Eventually that closed down and I moved in at the Everfresh Studio, still running my signage business. Here, I’m surrounded by all these amazing paintings and people who are proactive enough to do what they want to do. It’s invigorating and essentially it’s really motivating.

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photo: p1xels

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MAYO – STAR LYRIC THEATRE

Late in 2016, Rone held his solo show ‘Empty’ in Melbourne’s old Lyric Theatre, the last event to be shown there prior to demolition. Between finishing the show and returning the keys, Rone invited a select few into the space to collaborate and beautify the theatre a little more prior to the wrecking ball.

One of these artists, Mayonaize, internationally renowned tattooist and calligraffiti extraordinaire painted and documented a mandala filling the entire floor space. He documented this entire process through both film and photography. Damo went down to Everfresh Studios to chat with Mayo about this project.

Damo: Could we initially start by you introducing yourself and talk a little bit about you background and your artistic practice?

Mayo: I am known as ‘Mayo’ or ‘Mayonaize, my backgrounds are in both graffiti and tattooing. I am basing everything these days off of more calligraphic approach and trying to push that lettering thing as far as I can. At the same time I am trying to not to pigeon hole myself, but it doesn’t seem to be working. It could be a bad thing… I’m not sure.

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Credit: p1xels

Damo: Why Mayo or Mayonaize?

Mayo: I was desperate for a new graffiti word. I used to write any words – words that had meanings or connotations I didn’t necessarily want to be tied to later on down the track. When I thought about it I realised that I didn’t want to get stuck with some word like ‘snake’ or something. I feel that some people have got words that don’t suit them. I watched the film ‘Style Wars’ and Duster said, ‘Graffiti, it’s like a game, it’s like here are your letters go do something with it.’ It really stuck with me. I came across the word Mayo thought I’d try make something out of it. It just turned out that ‘mayo’ was a funny word to use in graffiti, I kind of liked the word and the sound of it. Then I did an exhibition and this was how I was going to stop the cops from catching me, I was like ‘I will just call myself ‘Mayonnaise’.

So then it just turned into ‘Mayonnaise’. Instagram came along and I used ‘Z’, because ‘Mayonnaise’ wasn’t available. I kind of keep Mayonaize for the legal stuff I do and ‘Naise’ for keeping them them off my scent (laughs).
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Swoon Hits Haiti!

The awesome force of nature that is Swoon headed back to Haiti to get stuck into her latest project, helping repair and rebuild the communities as part of the Konbit Shelter project. In her own words, she tells us about the work she is doing there:

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“With great joy, we have begun to build our bamboo home in Haiti. Architect Joana Torres and I arrived last week, joining forces with the team in Cormiers. There’s a lot of excitement in the air, and much to be done over the next few months.”

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‘KEEZUS: The Second Coming’ – 23rd Key

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‘The Second Coming’ is the second part of a two part series of works entitled KEEZUS that first debuted in 2014. The body of work draws on the exploration of the human condition, utilizing the stencil art process. It explores the theme of the ego, specifically the artists ego, and experiences.

It’s a dissection of what it is to be a stencil artist and will showcase the medium in a way that has never been done before. Each work concentrates on the inner battle we have with who we are, who we are perceived to be, and how they differ.
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Nuart Aberdeen 2017

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This April, after 15 years of continuous and successful festivals in their hometown of Stavanger, Nuart Festival will be hosting their first edition outside Norway. Coming to UK for the first time, they recently announced Nuart Aberdeen that will take place from Friday 14 – Sunday 16 April.

Staying true to their tested and proven concept, the project will include a series of site-specific murals, installations, interventions, and temporary exhibitions, along with a program of talks, presentations, film screenings, walking tours and workshops. Always focused on redefining the public space, bringing art to uncommon places and triggering critical and creative thinking with the general population, this initiative was recognized by the Aberdeen Inspired and Aberdeen City Council who were looking for a special way to mark Aberdeen’s year of ‘History, Heritage and Archaeology’. With this in mind the festival seeks to reveal how street art can create an environment for a more imaginative use of public space, encourage community engagement, make art accessible to all, and create talking points in the city, as well as brightening up neglected spaces in the city center.

The organizers recently announced the lineup which includes 11 international artists, mostly Nuart’s long time friends and collaborators – Robert Montgomery, Fintan Magee, Herakut, Add Fuel, Isaac Cordal, M-city, Jaune, Martin Whatson, Julian de Casabianca, Nipper and Alice Pasquini.

Facebook.com/nuartaberdeen

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Chad Hasegawa as curated by DK Johnston

“It was during his residency at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco that our abstract show was conceived, beginning with Love My Lovelies and carrying thru to works inspired by locations from Hasegawa’s native Hawaii the art is transformative and sublime.”
DK Johnston, curator

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Known for his gestural imagery of bears and heroes, painter Chad Hasegawa elevates the medium of house paint into the fine art realm with his beautiful works of fine art. Taking influence from graffiti and mural art, the San Francisco-based artist creates his portraits and figures with a heavy hand akin to the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s. Completely self-taught, Hasegawa has developed a multi-layered style of mixing tones and shades that is enigmatic on canvas as it is on the street.

Hasegawa first made waves in the street art world with his series of majestic bears, painted with chunky brick-like marks and drips that intertwine to make dimensional tonality. Leaving a career in advertising, Hasegawa focused on creating murals in San Francisco. Like the work of Claude Monet, his mark making is aggressive and abstract up close, but softer and unified when viewed from afar. Using bucket paint and a flat brush, he is able to create an abstract style that is as fitting in the street art realm as it is amongst the work of his favorite Ab Ex artists like Joan Mitchell, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell.

The artists who have influenced and shaped Hasegawa’s trajectory became the focus of his series painted while the artist in residence at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The artists depicted, such as Keith Haring and Joan Mitchell, had such an integral influence on Hasegawa, that he has painted their faces as if they were self portraits. His unique mix of oversized brushes and latex paint has made Hasegawa an artist to watch.

Profile by Lori Zimmer (Art Nerd NY)

DEATH & DISSECTION: A STUDY WITH NYCHOS – Sydney and Melbourne Workshops

Austrian urban art and graffiti illustrator Nychos has been part of the international art scene for more than 15 years now. He is well known for his huge and technically outstanding art pieces in the urban environment as well as being part of gallery exhibitions.

Recent murals in San Francisco, Miami and New York make him one of the most sought-after artists. Nychos’ paintings and drawings have been exhibited in galleries worldwide, including several solo exhibitions (e.g. Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York, Julian Kolly Gallery in Zurich, Open Space in Paris). The works on canvas serve as unique compliments to his massive public works that give character to cities all over the world.

Raised in a traditional Austrian hunting family, death and dissection were daily business for Nychos. The proximity to animal viscera had a profound effect on him visually. He explores the theme in different styles like dissection, cross section and translucency – pushing it to playful extremes.

Nychos returns to Australia after 10 years and will be presenting a WorkShop in Sydney and Melbourne. During the class Nychos will teach spray can techniques, how to paint translucency, give insight in his coloring concepts and will talk about 3D sculpturing techniques.

This workshop is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the world’s most celebrated artists.

Workshop will also be offering viewings of ‘The Deepest Depths of the Burrow’ with tickets and details here.