David ‘MEGGS’ Hooke’s latest body of work deals with the recurring aesthetic of duality, which is an ongoing and underlying theme in all of his artwork. His ‘Paving Paradise’ pop up show is a small glimpse into a new focus of his work and features split images depicting natural purity vs. things that represent the decay and downfall of our environmental resources and mankind as a whole. MEGGS intends that his artworks reflect the Yin and Yang, or that two halves make up a whole.
‘Rise Up’ is Dave ‘MEGGS’ Hooke’s largest solo mural to date. At over 6,000 square feet, it towers over the eastern section of Detroit’s Russell industrial district and serves as an iconic symbol of the city’s ups and downs. The mural, which features an image of a tiger and the text ‘Rise Up,’ reveals a constant symbol of hope and strength that the city can identify with as it moves into a new era of change and regrowth.
“I hoped to convey the energy and momentum of self-empowerment and moving forward,” MEGGS explains regarding this milestone in his mural career. “The tiger is a symbol that all Detroiters relate to and feel proud ownership of – it’s a symbol that’s born from Detroit’s glory days and one that survived its unfortunate downfall.” MEGGS also expresses his respect for Detroit graffiti, “It was great to be able to share this wall with three local Detroit heavy hitters – props to Tead, Elmer, and Rawr.”
The ‘Rise Up’ mural, which concludes MEGGS’ five-week residency and solo gallery exhibition with Inner State Gallery and 1XRUN, was created as his homage to the city of Detroit. “It was my way of giving back to a city that had welcomed me, inspired me, and allowed me to take from it to create my own artwork and experience,” he says. Aside from being his largest public piece of artwork, MEGGS’ eclipses his previous works with new textural techniques and intricate details to reference the multi-faceted landscape of Detroit.
Ironically, the mural commenced a week after Mayor Mike Duggan announced a controversial crackdown on graffiti, forcing the city to fine numerous business owners who had actually commissioned artists to paint murals on their buildings. MEGGS faced logistical hurdles and numerous encounters with police and city workers, but the response was overwhelmingly positive and he was allowed to proceed and complete the largest wall in his street art career.
Photo’s courtesy Mike Popso, Miya Tsukazaki & Sal Rodriguez
On September 19th, Australian artist David “MEGGS” Hooke concluded his one-month residency at Inner State Gallery with the opening of his solo exhibition, Spoiled Rotten.
The exhibition of over 40 new paintings and multiples explores the wondrous decay of social morality stemming from modern society’s obsession with pop culture and overindulgent materialism. The artworks, all of which were created in Detroit during his residency, continue MEGGS’ perpetual fascination with dualism and finding beauty in tragedy.
The city of Detroit plays a major influence in MEGGS’ philosophy behind Spoiled Rotten. The exhibition highlights Detroit as an inspirational juxtaposition of a spoiled past and its position as a new canvas for growth and rebirth. MEGGS’ use of deteriorating signage and locally sourced materials from the city’s abandoned and forgotten places emphasizes the revival of social pillars such as community and the idea that destruction and decay breed new beginnings.
“Detroit is a city of duality more so than many other cities I have been to. I sought to incorporate this by using objects and surfaces that imply decay, in what I consider to be a beautiful way. Old wooden materials and signs with layers of paint tell a story of their own. Although the colors and textures are aesthetically beautiful, I think it’s about giving these materials a new life, a second purpose,” MEGGS said while working in the Inner State Gallery loft.
The genesis of Spoiled Rotten lies in MEGGS’ painting entitled ‘Life’s Ups and Downs,’ which features a split image of the inflated iconic yellow happy face balloon juxtaposed with its discarded, decaying, and deflated other half.
“This concept started when I saw a deflated happy face balloon, which is an image I’ve been obsessed with lately. The ‘happy’ balloon is a classic icon that depicts playfulness, optimism, and the idea of, “Have a nice day!” Yet, the balloon is also a very disposable item and has a limited life span. It deflates. I think this is something that people can identify with and it ties into that idea of duality in Detroit,” MEGGS said.
The exhibition also marked the debut of a new sculptural collaboration between MEGGS and artist Rafael Batista of Brooklyn, New York. Batista, who hand-sculpted each piece, gives new life to MEGGS’ happy face balloon images, taking them from canvas to 3D collectors’ items.
Photo Credit Miya Tsukazaki and Mike Popso.