If you haven’t read “A Look at Graffiti’s Evolution and Progression 2011 in the Artists own words Part 1″ you should do so Here. As promised here is the follow up and conclusion to the topic. As our site has grown rapidly organically, so has our cooperation and input from artists around the world. Legends and rising artists alike, all have shown so much positivity on this subject and the overall direction that these discussions are taking. With the rising ability for our culture to touch so many so fast it is great to be able to get talks and round table discussions like this out to the public. In the past manifestos, art movements were all published on independent presses and journals. They revolutionized art as we know it. We started our movement in the streets and it is evolving faster and larger than any other current art movement. We now have replaced newspapers with independent blogs like this, and now revolutions are created by Facebook and Twitter. What is next with this new reach of communication? Maybe that’s a question for another article.
As we release Part 2 the question seems more relevant today more than ever, fresh off the Moca “Art in the Streets Exhibition”. I will save my commentary for a later post on the Moca exhibit. I will say that as much as the show could have been said to be a validation of our culture and history, it is not the final chapter. We are relatively young in Art years for a movement. What is next was the question, and one that we asked before MOCA. Now looking back after Moca it seems what we do next could shape the next century, not only of our Art but the Artworld as well. In the first question I used the terms Post Graffiti, maybe Ill replace it with Post-Moca now as we enter the next step in our evolution and progression. Here is the initial question and the answers from the artists in their own words.
Question: Coming back from Art Basel Primary Flight 2010 i was surprised firstly about the turnout of so many talented artists in one place, Secondly the direction it seemed many artists where taking. I noticed a very Conceptual and Abstract direction in many writers gallery and wall work. I was very impressed. My question is in this Post-graffiti age as some like to label it, where do you see the art form progressing and Why? Second part to that question is how has your personal work evolved in this current state of post-graffiti if it has effected it at all.
Kidghe Mexico City
Post graffiti, has many possible interpretations , for me, one of them is… That has been the concern or interpretation of the work in street that has marked a differences. The letters , figures , spots, themes and techniques have marked a clear difference in these two times. Making a reflection and responding to the question relating to the progress in this environment, it seems to me that just that we more emphasis, in evolve the message, the interpretation and the scale of our work.It seems to me that a good way to make a progress in this new period is using the interdisciplinary, the work of graffiti on the street is closely related to issues of urbanism, architecture, landscape architecture, graphic design, industrial design, painting, sociology, anthropology or simply the plastic by plastic be!
The second phenomenon which in my view has much to see at world level, is the great influence that tube graffiti in the 1980S, 90 in people who at that time they lived closely, so close that for many was influence in decide to examine a career or training related to the “design”. For many of us return the streets after having a formal education is of utmost importance, since there are more elements of where take advantage. We have painted and acted in the city states to understand, now we can expand the code of communication, now it is time to improve our work with the sole intention to enrich this great mole, our city, our neighborhood, our streets In the case staff, it seems to me that my work has evolved tremendously, my main platform has been the architecture, the city, town planning and the landscape. My issues no longer have to do with the font, my intentions because we are communicating with another person who only “the” understands what i do or includes the same passion, my work is marked by new materials, new applications, new roads in other areas of the design or construction. As in many processes, hardly begins, the road is long and we pleased to keep walking.
She One London
The answer to your question is pretty simple in that graffiti artists who are able to think beyond the confines of an ‘outline’ are more equipped to approach installations, murals or canvas.
Graffiti by the very nature of it’s invention is about the ownership of a personality via typography. It arrived in Europe fully formed not just as a mode of expression but a social culture and to an extent ‘lifestyle’ that encompassed multiple disciplines from creating a logoized signature, drawing in black books, painting a subway train, customizing a denim jacket or making a permanent work on canvas, and then photography, video and digital media. By default anything that happened after ‘Style Wars’ is post graffiti. I was fortunate in that I started making graffiti as a teenager in the mid 80′s, fortunate because spray paint and the application of graffiti had no legitimate artistic legacy or formal explanation and so I was free from any preconceived critique of my approach to image making. The artists that interested me from the New York subway era were A-One, Toxic, Noc, Futura, Ram-Ell-Zee because their works seemed to be more about the medium and the act of painting, the name was merely a gestural cage to express an idea – the letter form as the subject.This is still something that I feel the art world has failed to take on board, where there is over emphasis on the ‘Name’ of the artists as brand rather than a valid deconstruction of the contents of the works to open it up into a broader context. For example when discussing Retna if critics or reviewers were to mention Jose Parla, Chaz or Delta they could create a dialogue and so wider contextualize an aesthetic that we all know has been developing internationally for 30 years. In turn this would strengthen the idea of Abstract Graffiti as a movement, not unlike Expressionism or Futurism. My works started to take on a more personalized abstract aesthetic when I started to go to a wall with no outline to follow. I was painting with REQ1 in the early 90′s and we had begun to deconstruct our original influences and question why we still painting subway influenced works, around this time we were aware of Joker and Poesia in the states and they seemed to have a similar approach to image making and that’s when Transcend came together, more as an exchange of ideas than a crew i guess, and that is when we began to apply theory to painting. Jon One was a very important artist at this time, living in Paris he was paintings walls and starting to work on canvas in the purest form I had seen from a graffiti artists that had no obvious lineage to subway graffiti.
I have gone out of my way to make works in unruly, curator free environments in order to maintain authorship of my own identity so that when I hang a canvas in a well lit room it is the result of the cultivation of ideas and practices rather than a solitary action.
I had an exhibition of canvases in New York in 2000, and to have Crash, Lee Quinones, Daze, Reas and Stash among others at the opening and accepting my works for what they saw as ‘abstract graffiti’ was a real turning point, If the people who had inspired me to start making art as a kid accepted what I was doing now then I was suddenly freed up to make what I want. And that’s when it all went black and white……..
Saber Los Angeles
Well first of all is there an overall consensus on the term “Post Graffiti”? Im still not sure on how to categorize it but if we don’t come up with the term then “they” will do it for us- “Street Art” is a perfect example on how that term downplays the overall importance of the artworks as opposed to the disposable regurgitated Pop art that currently takes place. To me it’s all about the strength within Abstraction. My personal goal is to somehow someway force my strain of Abstraction into Art History. One of my drives to keep producing tangible artwork is that it will outlast my Graffiti pieces outdoors. Every piece painted outside will eventually turn to dust sooner than later. Part of my logic in creating artwork is to still represent the hard work, experiences and insights that took place while producing risky large scale graffiti pieces. The challenge is the balance between two worlds. Abstraction is a deeper window into something. What that is, its up to the artist to communicate to the viewer their personal vision. Abstraction is a catalyst to an alternate way thinking and communicating. For me its all about sharp, fluid, illuminated, cyborg fighting. “Wow, that sounded like some good bullshit to me. Really the work should speak for its self”.
I have been affected by the overall “Post Graffiti” movement by the sheer competition of the other artists. The race is on and so many valid Writers are producing spectacular work. Your previous article is a great example of this progression of the movement. Its interesting to watch how my generation is maturing. For me personally important to carry on our past yet evolving simultaneously. It’s a challenge to respect the Graffiti code yet expanding as an artist. Letters are strength, structure, movement and power. Letters are at the heart of this global creative awakening. Fuck Palomino Biege! I search for whispers and patterns, call me crazy………… ARTWORKREBELS~MADSOCIETYKINGS2011
I have a really simple outlook about the overall direction of writing and where it’s headed. I don’t know if anyone mentioned yet because I’m still to sit down and read through part 1 but I think there are major parallels between the history of writing and the over all history of art in general – it’s just condensed into 3 decades rather than across centuries.
Think about – the original tagging of the late 60′s would be like the ‘rudimentary stages’ similar to when man first felt the urge to scrawl the likeness of things he saw purely to say ‘I’m here – these are my experiences.’ When you look at how figurative painting evolved over the ages through primitive stages into more developed yet proportionately incorrect representations of people and objects – you could say writing on trains went through those motions too – battling with finding the flow and perfecting on the forms over a decade or so, As humans developed technologies that enabled them master human proportion, arrangement of light and color by use of basic projectors made of glass and candles and then later through the use of celluloid to assist in creating a perfect likeness to reality – you saw the general trend of realism develop although in many different sub-genres of painting. Through the mid 90′s and into the first decade of the 2000′s you see a parallel movement in writing too with 3D letters and photo realism. Eventually though man always seeks to express a higher emotion or deeper context through art and much like many of the modern art movements of the 20th century, writing has deviated into other approaches that draw on the ideas of Dadaism, Surrealism, Cubism and the work of the Expressionists just to name a few. Writing is also very indicative of where we are at during any time in a pop-cultural sense as well. Writing often draws influence from pop culture, ever evolving technologies, the shifts in how we socialize and communicate digitally, moving image and audio. Like any form of art it’s a reflection of where a society is at during that given moment.
Haze New York
No question that an art movement born out of graffiti has been progressing in quantum leaps and bounds over the last few years, both in terms of the level of new work being produced, as well as the renewed focus on it’s relevance in the modern art world, and nothing speaks louder than the streets of Miami during Art Basel for the ever growing quality and quantity of the aerosol art community these days. But at the same time, I think labels like “post-graffiti” speak more of the need by outsiders or academics to find new boxes to put things in, rather than anything relevant you would hear from any contemporary artist who has also ever truly bombed. After all, there is plenty of “real” graffiti being done these days all over the world, as well as a lot of diverse great art being done by both retired and still active writers, so using the word graffiti as a catch phrase to symbolize it’s influence on other forms of current or so called “street art” just creates a bit of a distortion. Regardless of what generation, culture or landscape it comes from, and as much as it may keep morphing in new ways over time, there is tradition of hand lettering and outline forms that define what it means to legitimately be considered a true style master within the graff community, So unless the work has some history or basis in the fundamentals of tag and piecing styles I’m not sure it even makes sense to apply the term graffiti at all anyway. I also think by now the majority of us are pretty clear about the difference between the fundamentally illegal sport we may play purely for self expression and love of the game, and whatever else we may choose to pursue as professional artists trying to establish more universal value in our work.
That said, I think the question of graff’s traditional roots in letter forms vs. abstraction and other interpretations is perhaps the most vital issue at the heart of the movement’s current evolution, and wealth of great work is being done these days by an incredibly diverse group of legitimate writers who are killing it on one or both sides of these lines. For my money, it’s those artists who have developed the natural ability to cross back and forth from and / or blur the line between letterforms and various other languages, who mange to honor certain style traditions as purists while also creating radically different personal vocabularies, who ultimately speak for a vision far more ambitious than the simple act of writing your name, that continue to (re)define the cutting edge of what it truly means to build on graff’s legacy without being unnecessarily handcuffed by it’s roots and original blueprints.
Q : Second part to that question is how has your personal work evolved in this current state of post-graffiti if it has effected it at all.
A: The question of type based work vs. abstraction has also become an essential part of the dialogue within my own work over the last 5 years :
Early on, after a brief initiation and some experience in the gallery world, my passion for developing letter forms was at the root of my choice to choose the path of graphic design over that of fine art. I looked at master painters and storytellers of my generation like Lee, Basquiat and Keith Haring as true fine artists in a traditional sense, so while still bombing trains and adhering to a more purist set of graffiti principles by keeping that work strictly underground, I started to develop my own very different professional relationship to the legacy of graffiti through the perpetual reinvention of the written word, ultimately learning to apply this as a discipline in it’s own right. I realized this vision through logo and identity work for clients in my formative years, then in time re-extended it back to my own name and original graff identity through my brand HAZE. From that point on, my mission involved using every available product and medium as an application of a stylized version of my name, full stop back to the essence of graffiti, but for sale.
However, when I returned to New York from LA in 2005, alongside the business as usual of continuing my design work and brand development, I somehow also became captivated by the freestyle spirit of my original ( pre computer era ) roots. It seemed imperative to roll up my sleeves and start creating work in a much more personal and organic fashion, to find ways to break free of many then ingrained methodologies of “executing” designs, and create an additional “space” for myself to also begin producing artwork that was less related to any marketing strategy or commercial principles. I also wanted to (re)join and hopefully contribute to the growing dialogue within an art world now increasingly informed by both the legacy of graffiti and it’s impact on the landscape of fine art.
Still not a storyteller in the traditional sense, my original challenge was finding some new vocabulary that allowed me to effectively bridge my identity back on to a public or gallery wall, while not just falling into a comfort zone of simply applying my design sensibility in another medium. The initial process was equal parts a rediscovery of traditional materials such as brushes, ink and paper, along with allowing myself, for perhaps the first time ever, to walk up to a blank canvas or sheet of paper with no blueprint and just see what developed.
The first works I created were all rooted in numbers and letters as an obvious and honest place to start from, now, as I have grown more comfortable stepping outside a need for any literal basis in words, I have pushed further trying to distill the essence of certain things through simple icons like stars, arrows or crowns, or at times reducing everything to pure geometry and abstraction, where the work becomes as much about the action and quality of line for it’s own sake as anything else. I have also re-discovered certain personal truths in the simple act of repetition, something that, while still having an essential relationship to the art of applying logos and developing a brand, has also brought me closer again to the process and spirit that once blindly fueled me through subway tunnels stamping out the same SE3 throw up over and over again with a can of spray paint. It is from this place, exploring new ways to define a balance between my love of letter forms, iconography and abstraction, that the majority of my current work continues to evolve from.
Eric Haze – 3/11