Nick Turpin’s photographs of shiny cars reflecting the brightly-lit advertisements of Piccadilly Circus

In his latest series, Autos, photographer Nick Turpin explores consumerism in modern life through advertising reflected on vehicles in London’s Piccadilly Circus.

“Shiny new vehicles passing through the city are illuminated by huge bright screens of Coca Cola red, Samsung Orange and Xbox green,” Nick tells Creative Boom. “The light on the bodywork reminiscent of the ‘liquid light’ effect which is found in photography for car advertising.”

These documentary pictures, snapped in the popular tourist spot, certainly echo the aesthetic of the high-end commercial photography studio. “The automobile bathed in the light of advertising is an appropriate metaphor for the omnipresence of advertising in a world where we are all sold to constantly and every one of us is classified into consumer types,” adds Nick.

© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin

Nick chose the location because of the huge screen that overlooks Piccadilly Circus, the largest advertising screen in Europe, which claims to have an audience of “City Sophisticates, Lavish Lifestyles and Career Climbers,” according to Nick.

“Particularly since having children, I have become very aware of advertising and how it targets us whether we are walking in the street, driving on the road, sitting in the back of a taxi or even going to the toilet,” Nick continues. “It struck me that the light of advertising bathing everything in Piccadilly Circus was a wonderful metaphor for this omnipresence of advertising in our lives and set about finding a way to photograph it.”

© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin

Nick started with portraits of people lit by the adverts but quickly realised that the shiny new cars passing through the junction, probably the most expensive purchase after a house, were a perfect subject. “Once I started making the pictures I also realised that the huge LED screen in Piccadilly was like the giant softboxes used in commercial car studios that gave that seductive liquid light look so commonly used to sell cars.

“I also see nice parallels with Pop Art, the use of found logos, motifs and texts as well as the blocks of bright colour reminiscent of Lichtenstein paintings. Finally, I love the way that something so everyday and mundane can actually be so beautiful.”

© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin
© Nick Turpin

Taking photographs at night, Nick used a long lens to focus on the bits that interested him and which made the pictures quite abstract. “The cars stop at the traffic lights giving me about a minute to make a picture. I step out between the cars in order to find the right angle to capture the best reflections and then run back to the pavement when the lights turn to green,” he says.

“I have to shoot a lot in order to get a handful of successful frames, in that respect it is very similar to street photography which is the approach behind most of my work. The advertising changes every two weeks so I run regularly to see what new opportunities there are.”

To find out more about Nick Turpin and his work, visit nickturpin.com or follow him on Instagram. You should also check out his previous series, On the Night Bus.

AMPPARITO CONCEPTUALIZES A DIGITAL SOLUTION TO AN URBAN PLANNER JAM

Talented urban planning that has sufficient vision for the future will anticipate the needs and behaviors of a city, looking forward to its growth and reconfigurations over time. In L’Hospitalet, Spain the Street Artist Ampparito gathered plenty of evidence that sometimes old solutions in the built environment have to be destroyed in order for the new needs of an evolving city.

BEFORE AND AFTER. A VIRTUAL SURGICAL SOLUTION FOR URBAN IMPEDIMENTS FROM AMPPARITO (©AMPPARITO)

The resulting new mural is a humorous merging of digital and mortar, a conceptual piece that imagines the erasing of walls of an urban design/engineering mess in the way a Photoshop designer may do it – without heavy equipment, traffic disruption and no environmentally toxic by-products.

Esteban Marin tells us of the 10 day residency that the Spanish urban interventionist took part in with Contorno Urbano to study the mural site, work with neighbors and students from the area to discuss the needs of the people, and the bold outcome that Marin ironically calls “ground-breaking.”

AMPPARITO. CONTORNO URBANO FOUNDATION. 12 + 1 PROJECT. L’HOSPITALET DE LLOBREGAT, BARCELONA. NOVEMBER 2018. (PHOTO © CLARA ANTÓN)

The meeting place of a rail line and a road that once served the communities that grew up around it, everyone agrees that it now divides it and impedes a freeflow of traffic and people. It is something that a  practitioner of Chinese medicine or its various healing modalities (acupuncture, Qigong, Tai Chi) may describe as an interruption of energetic pathways, a blockage of Qi energy. In the parlance of urban designers and civil engineers it would be similar; rebalancing urban mobility.

AMPPARITO AND A GROUP OF STUDENTS STUDY OBSTACLES AND ERASURE. CONTORNO URBANO FOUNDATION. 12 + 1 PROJECT. L’HOSPITALET DE LLOBREGAT, BARCELONA. NOVEMBER 2018. (PHOTO © CLARA ANTÓN)

“The wall must be destroyed and rail tracks moved underground to facilitate the flow between districts,” says Marin. “Right now the road where the wall is cuts the city in two, same as the rail track. This is a crossroad point on the city with a lot of obstacles for the people living nearby to move around freely.”

“The spot where I had to work was a concrete wall that works as a base for the railway,” explains Ampparito. “Sometime ago this track was perpendicularly crossed by other trains. At some point this old transport disappeared and a road was built in order to connect the two main parts of Hospitalet. It is poetic how this tracks and roads split the village in several parts, making hard to connect two adjoining places.”

Although he may have liked to create an image that provided an emotional healing or comfort, the artist says that a decorative or aesthetically pleasing design wouldn’t have answered the calls from the community.

AMPPARITO. CONTORNO URBANO FOUNDATION. 12 + 1 PROJECT. L’HOSPITALET DE LLOBREGAT, BARCELONA. NOVEMBER 2018. (PHOTO © CLARA ANTÓN)

“I didn’t want to sweeten this place,” he says, remarking that most people simply drive past it. “It’s so hard to appreciate anything in this non place,” he says. “No one stops here. “Cars go through quite fast and there is no way to hang out here.”

Why not simply select your Photoshop tool from the toolbox and erase the obstruction? That’s what students helped Amparitto decide during his workshops with them to study the issue and devise solutions. An ingenious solution that speaks to the difference between digital work and actual labor, it also may not translate as clearly to older generations or those not familiar with design software, but it packs a visual punch that makes you crack a smile regardless.

“While you stand there in between cars going fast so close,” says Ampparito, “it all will make a bit of sense.”

AMPPARITO. CONTORNO URBANO FOUNDATION. 12 + 1 PROJECT. L’HOSPITALET DE LLOBREGAT, BARCELONA. NOVEMBER 2018. (PHOTO © CLARA ANTÓN)

ISAAC CORDAL: STARTLING FIGURES MID-MOTION IN FINNISH FOREST

When your furtive and preoccupied sculptures are placed on ledges and moldings above harried pedestrian traffic in the city, we call it Street Art. When they are mounted in the soil in the woods amid deer and moose traffic we call it Land Art. Perhaps there are more erudite and academic descriptions of those distinctions available in a white paper somewhere.

Here in Lanpinjarvi, Finland where the days are short this time of year and even the marshy lands can be frozen solid, Spanish Street Artist Isaac Cordal is instead expansive, bringing a new trio of sculptures to the wild, and the difference between his urban and rural art is remarkable.

ISAAC CORDAL. LANDART LANPINJARVI IN FINLAND. NOVEMBER 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ISAAC CORDAL)

“Logistically, the project was very complex as we had to deal with situations where the temperature was below freezing (the clay was freezing while we worked on it),” he says. “The days were also very short (at 3:00 pm it was night time), the distance we had to transport the material was very long.”

It is as if Cordal had been storing this energy in his work, unready to expand the spaces in between matter. His figures here have great ease, a whirring together of atomic energies that capture the action between actions.

ISAAC CORDAL. LANDART LANPINJARVI IN FINLAND. NOVEMBER 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ISAAC CORDAL)

What are we, but earth and time – our elements are drawn from its elements, no more, no less? Here in the wooded area, Cordal stages a midstage, all of it amid life, ready to take it on.

Those miniature concrete businessmen that have made Cordal known in city streets, their faces and suits rough-hewn and rumpled and frozen in their existential mire, are reflected here in these life-size figures as well, but somehow these become accountable, relatable. Previously mournful, his new figures appear contemplative and rather at ease, not in need of a chiropractor – just a limb here and there.

ISAAC CORDAL. LANDART LANPINJARVI IN FINLAND. NOVEMBER 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ISAAC CORDAL)

ISAAC CORDAL. LANDART LANPINJARVI IN FINLAND. NOVEMBER 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ISAAC CORDAL)

ISAAC CORDAL. LANDART LANPINJARVI IN FINLAND. NOVEMBER 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ISAAC CORDAL)

ISAAC CORDAL. LANDART LANPINJARVI IN FINLAND. NOVEMBER 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ISAAC CORDAL)

ISAAC CORDAL. LANDART LANPINJARVI IN FINLAND. NOVEMBER 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ISAAC CORDAL)


This project was carried out for Landart Lanpinjarvi, and Isaac would like to extend his thanks to Antonio Arosa, Pete Rantapää, Henrik Lund, David Eirin and Marit Hohtokari and all the people involved in the project for making it possible.

FUTURA 2000 IN STUDIO AND “THE 5 ELEMENTS”

EARTH, AIR, FIRE, and WATER. And FUTURA 2000.

These are the five elements.

“Hey Guys!” he bellows from the doorway and invites us in.

FUTURA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

A non-stop full-voiced welcome fills the air of this factory loft space with stories and smoke and sports talk radio as you ascend steps from the truck-traffic cacophony of cold and rain on this Bushwick thoroughfare. For the next hour and a half, you are warmly surrounded by clothes racks and boxes and spray cans and multi-faceted anecdotes and impressions and fragments of memories that get shaken and sprayed and circled back to.

Here is a fond remembrance of something his mom or dad said from his childhood, an adroitly drawn quip about a curious gallerist, an excited discovery of new Super 8 footage of a mission with famed NYC graffiti writer Dondi in Japan to promote Wild Style. Elsewhere he recounts a meeting with Joe Strummer in a New York studio to share and record his own penned rap lyrics with The Clash, a trip to Berlin in ’85 with Keith Haring, a recent conversation with MODE2 who lives there now, a description of his personal misgivings about wearing his US military uniform into town while stationed at Yakuska Naval Base as a 20 year old.

FUTURA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

An omnivore of ideas and initiatives and world cities, his march as a creative force of nature only gathers speed as he nears 40 years since first emerging from graffiti writing as a studio artist.

“1980 was the breakout year for us because we were all beginning to surface,” he says of the number of events that occurred that year and brought graffiti and street culture to a larger, more mainstream audience, and hopefully, a collector base. That was the year of the “Times Square Show” by Colab that introduced art and performance from the “Downtown” and “Uptown” scenes. It was also the year that Stefan Eins’ Fashion Moda gallery in the South Bronx had its first exhibition of graffiti art – Graffiti Art Success for America (GAS) – curated by artist John Matos (aka Crash), the show included work by graffiti culture artists such as Futura, Lady Pink, John Fekner, Disco 107, Fab Five Freddie, Futura, Kel 139th, Lee, Mitch 77, Nac 143, Noc 167, Stan 153, Tom McCutcheon, and Zephyr.

FUTURA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

“We were all willing to come above ground and investigate what was happening,” he says. “That was also the year I did the ‘Break Car’,” he says of the uniquely abstract whole graffiti car he painted that set him apart stylistically from the NYC graffiti writing pack and was captured famously by photographer Martha Cooper. That car and that style would proved to be the Cold War inspired rocketship that launched Futura 2000 into a forty year exploration of the Cosmos.

Fast forward to April 2018 in Lille, France, and Futura toils and emerges with a new body of work incorporating his long-held love for the interconnectedness of the galaxy, the stars, and the planet.

FUTURA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

“I’ve been a child of the planet since I was a kid,” he says as he recalls the impact of the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens and how it tapped into his innate desire for exploration. “Every nation had a pavilion,” he says, and suddenly you see his collection of miniature architectural wonders from around the world, all grouped together for an idealized cityscape.

“I’ve got Berlin, Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers, Roma, Peru (Easter Island), the Blue Mosque in Turkey, Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi,” he says. “I don’t have Taj Mahal, but I’ve been to it. I need that.”

“The 5 Elements” is the exhibition that opens this week at Urban Spree in Berlin and of course refers as well to the so-called “Five Elements of Hip-Hop”, of which graffiti is one. But he reserves this reference to a greater sweep, expressed in about an expansive show. “There’s a whole series on water, air, on fire,” he says, “It’s all at some point color coated for each element.” He also creates a series of circular canvasses hung in relation to each other to evoke the planetary system.

“I think they’re like 70 pieces, in terms of that I don’t think I’ve ever done anything this extensive,” he says.

But “The 5 Elements” is not a retrospective show, says Urban Spree founder and curator Pascal Feucher, who has been preparing the show with co-host Art Together. “On the contrary,” he writes, “Futura worked specifically on a large museum-style conceptual exhibition, tackling the ambitious theme of the Creation of the Universe, confronting himself to the cosmos, the planets, the infinitely small, the Big Bang and the fundamental elements, producing a corpus of works that becomes a path to the exploration of the universe as well as providing a backdoor into Futura’s internal galaxy.”

FUTURA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

Coinciding with the show will be the release of a 128-page companion book titled “Futura, les 5 éléments” – certain to be sought after.

For the ever expansive graphic designer, clothing designer, wordsmith, musician, sneaker head, graffiti writer, abstract painter, photographer, the dots are all connected – and it always also connects to his roots.

“I like it when it’s a degree removed, yet connected – when you realize that the whole school – at least the whole New York City school, is vast,” he says. “It has touched a lot of people.”

Rather like Futura 2000.

FUTURA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

FUTURA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

FUTURA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

FUTURA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

FUTURA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

FUTURA SHARING A PICTURE OF LEE QUINONES ON A MOPED IN ROMA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)


Below are images of the 4 screen prints that will be released at the opening of “The 5 Elements”, based on the painting series “Pure”. Each 8-color screen print is hand-pulled by Dolly Demoratti (Mother Drucker/Urban Spree Studio), signed and numbered by Futura. The 50 x 50 cm prints are only sold as a limited edition of 100 sets.

FUTURA. PURE EARTH. (PHOTO COURTESY OF URBAN SPREE GALLERY)

FUTURA. PURE AIR. (PHOTO COURTESY OF URBAN SPREE GALLERY)

FUTURA. PURE WATER. (PHOTO COURTESY OF URBAN SPREE GALLERY)

FUTURA. PURE FIRE. (PHOTO COURTESY OF URBAN SPREE GALLERY)

FUTURA (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

LEE QUIÑONES SAYS, “IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK”

“Shit man we were 15 years old,” Lee says while painting his train, “There was a bunch of us painting together, doing it solo, as a duo, or as a group.”

LEE QUIÑONES AT WORK ON “BORN FROM MANY APPLES”. DECEMBER 13, 2018. (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

An NYC original whole-car graffiti writer and painter in the 1970s/80s, Mr. Quiñones is now prepping for his latest gallery show, a solo at Charlie James Gallery in LA’s Chinatown.

40 years after his first gallery show in Rome that many point to as groundbreaking for graffiti writers transitioning to contemporary art, Lee is easily time-travelling to those days while he is working on new canvasses that invariably include imagery from that era, even as his own style has continued to evolve and he has greatly expanded his visual repertoire.

LEE QUIÑONES. “9 LIVES” (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST)

Here in his Bushwick studio his focus gathers around his penciled paint strokes as he builds up the exterior of a train racing across canvas that will be called “Born From Many Apples”.

“It all goes back to the old saying, ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ and I always remember that,” he says about a socially connected, universalist philosophy that has often appeared thematically in his work. “Born from many apples. We are part of all these things and people”.

“It was a pretty special time and place,” he says of train writing in the late 70s, “Obviously all good things come to an end, so I’m okay with that.” Not romantic about the conditions of the city during those years, he’s clear about the raw nature of painting and looking for adventure on train tracks in the terra incognita of a declining New York.

LEE QUIÑONES. “COUNTERFEIT ENTITLMENT MAKES FOR A BRITTLE SOCIETY” (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST)

Growing up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and studying the train lines for the best exposure for his rolling canvasses, Lee hustled for the opportunity to go large scale, to be “All City”, often drawing his trains in detail on paper before grabbing paint and staking out a spot. From the start, he took his craft seriously.

The gritty megapolis of his childhood was in perpetual financial austerity. Many neighborhoods appeared lawless, even avoided by police. Social or sports programs for youth were threadbare if they existed at all. Yet somehow graffiti kids who broke into train yards to paint coalesced into an underground community. “The camaraderie was there.”

Competition and verbal lore were part the game of course, but writers also shared their techniques and improved skills with each other, he says. He speaks about the bonds forged among the graff writers in the early days; How they would exchange tips for tool making, techniques and hitting trains. It has the markings of a tight community.

“Dudes really respected each other and writers were happy to meet each other,” he says. “We all brought our black books and we asked each other to tag it, like ‘can you put my name down to see if I can do it better with your style?’ It was a lot of sharing going on.”

LEE QUIÑONES DRAWING FROM 1980. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST)

His prolific activity, creative experimentation, and constant study of his craft scored him a shot at the gallery scene before he entered his 20s, even though it was on another continent entirely. “The first major European show of graffiti-based art opened at the galleria La Medusa in Rome, Italy, in 1979,” he says. “Fab 5 Freddy and I showcased our very first works on canvas in an attempt to bring it above.”

Forty years later he opens “If These Walls Could Talk”, a bold show of new works – a series of framed “tablets”, says Charlie James. Here you’ll see “writings on slabs of drywall and wood paneling that once were the walls of Quiñones’s studio(s), which were painstakingly removed during recent years. Unlike the urban landscape largely hostile to his earliest artistic production, these walls have offered an inviting interiority for the artist to perform his spray bomb color tests that ultimately become the foundation of his paintings.”

True to his origins, Lee says he has developed his practice by study and sharing perspectives. “You have to be able to talk to people about work, about other artists, do comparisons, do evaluations, critique it – it makes for great conversation.”

LEE QUIÑONES AT WORK ON “BORN FROM MANY APPLES”. DECEMBER 13, 2018. (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

We talked with Mr. Quiñones about the new show and his perspectives on his evolving practice as an artist:

BSA: Four decades into your work as a self-made artist, one of your paintings for this exhibition is titled “Karma”. What was the genesis of this and what role does Karma play in your life as an artist?

Lee Quiñones: There are several pieces in the show that have ignited the idea of karma.

I spend a lot of time in my studio having sit-ins with my work whether there are already formed or in theory, so I have many passages of time that come to mind and usually one thing reflects on another or as I say, rhymes with each other. Life is fulfilling and revealing like that if you look hard enough.

On that same note, I review life and humanity in a sarcastic manner in my head over time, and that in turn spills out onto my work or onto works that are specifically worthy of sarcasm.

LEE QUIÑONES AT WORK ON “BORN FROM MANY APPLES”. DECEMBER 13, 2018. (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

BSA: Given the nature of graffiti vandalism in train yards and on the street, and your own illegal car racing on the streets, you may have used up your metaphorical 9 lives that is assigned to curious cats. Can you talk about the painting you have created for this exhibition entitled, “9 Lives.”

Lee Quiñones: I have over time studied people in challenging situations that hide certain emotions in the details and reveal eye candy for the rest of us that just simply look and not see. The study painting “9 lives” centralizes around the segregation that unfolded its ugly head during the late fifties when students of color were finally allowed to attend certain schools throughout the nation.

I was especially driven to the 1957 incidence at the Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas where nine freshman students of color were to be escorted by police and or national guardsmen to their respective classes of study. One of the nine students, Elizabeth Eckford came early that day to school and subsequently endured a gauntlet of hate chants from her future fellow students led by a very angry and vocal Hazel Bryan. The photograph that captured that moment etched that dark time in the history books.

What I found in making this piece of which it is a study to a larger one in progress is that their emotions of hate and courage were so prominent in their hands. The juxtaposition of a hand clutching a rolled up newspaper in a authoritarian way fueled by hate and fear against a hand clutching books of study showing steadfast and courage was irrefutable.

LEE QUIÑONES AT WORK ON “BORN FROM MANY APPLES”. DECEMBER 13, 2018. (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

BSA: In studio we touched on the topic of how graffiti and street artists like to talk about “community” but often we have observed that there’s little support among the artists for each other in practice. You mentioned how in the old days of train painting you guys really supported each other shared techniques and exchanged your new style discoveries. What changed?

Lee Quiñones: Manufactured entitlement.

The air is thin in some places of success and artist have only artists to rely on as sound boards and for sound advise. That there is the oxygen needed to be authentic and poised for your moment when it comes rightfully so. What you do with that moment is embrace your hard work and to not be compelled to feel threatened by an associate.

I keep my closes allies from back in the day on the front pages of my day planner and I’m always interviewing new souls.

LEE QUIÑONES AT WORK ON “BORN FROM MANY APPLES”. DECEMBER 13, 2018. (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

BSA: You are having your first solo exhibition in LA. What took you so long?

Lee Quiñones: Funny, after discussing the show with Charlie James, whom I find to be one of the most open and enthusiastic people in the arts, I realized that this wasn’t just another show with everyone under the umbrella. It is my first solo show in Los Angeles on the heels of quite a few group surveys and splashes. Those exhibitions have their place and time and what I have been preaching in silence for some time now is; “that in order to see a movement for what it is worth and how it weathers throughout the passage of time is to look closer at its inner working parts individually”

I’d like to think that this is a prelude, my first shot across the bow of the left coast in what will be a gathering of works itching to spill out.

LEE QUIÑONES AT WORK ON “BORN FROM MANY APPLES”. DECEMBER 13, 2018. (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

BSA: Most people are familiar with the path that NYC graffiti culture took in the 80s and 90s to Western and Eastern Europe – and you’ve had the opportunity to hang out with writers from around the world thanks to your pioneering work on trains. Would you say that there is a difference between the graffiti experience in NYC and in Europe?

Lee Quiñones: Sure thing. I mean, while things are extremely close to you while they are developing, you can’t possibly see it clearly, so in essence, you need to remove yourself for an incubator period in order to focus more vividly and perhaps compare notes with your line of experiences. Europe has an extremely vast history in the arts throughout the ages. Empires have come and gone and in the end, we begin to understand them through the art that survives.

America is not of age just yet. It has acne, still wrestles with its growing pains and is hesitant to show its proper ID at the velvet ropes, so this particular movement which had no reference to art history in the first place is just cresting it’s wave.

LEE QUIÑONES AT WORK ON “BORN FROM MANY APPLES”. DECEMBER 13, 2018. (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

BSA: Not many artists can sustain a long career, especially true when it comes to graffiti writers. Challenging oneself to explore and take risks as an artist appears to be crucial to continuing to evolve creatively – particularly if you want to become professional. What’s your biggest challenge as an artist these days?

Lee Quiñones: Ushering people out of the context of nostalgia and looking at the current state of affairs in the works of today.

I mean, the subject of the trains and all its glory is for me to bring out on occasion with a twist, not for people to theoretically box me into it. I turn pages because I don’t want to be defined on one page.

Personally, my own challenges consists of navigating around my own self tripping wires. Some are booby-trapped and some are triggers for the lights at the end of the tunnel.

LEE QUIÑONES AT WORK ON “BORN FROM MANY APPLES”. DECEMBER 13, 2018. (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

LEE QUIÑONES AT WORK ON “BORN FROM MANY APPLES”. DECEMBER 13, 2018. (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

LEE QUIÑONES. INSPIRATIONAL WORDS AND THOUGHTS SCRIBBLED ON WALLS AT HIS STUDIO. DECEMBER 13, 2018. (PHOTO © JAIME ROJO)

EVARISTO ANGURRIA “DOS PATRIAS” IN SAN JUAN

There are few cultural fashion signifiers that conjure everyday high glamour, milestone celebrations, and hanging out with your home girl like the big colorful rollers that some women use in creating hair styles. Perhaps as a tribute to his sisters in his sister country, Street Artist Evaristo Angurria from Dominican Republic just painted this large mural in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Evaristo Angurria “DOS PATRIAS” for “Santurce Es Ley 7” in San Juan, Puerto Rico (photo © Mario E Ramirez and Tost Films)

The familiar and joyful pose of these two subjects speak to the natural ease you have around friends and family inside your home – people who know your history, your highpoints, the struggle. Painted during the 7th annual mural and cultural festival called “Santurce Es Ley 7” in mid-December, Angurria calls this new one, “Dos Patrias”, or two homelands.

Evaristo Angurria “DOS PATRIAS” for “Santurce Es Ley 7” in San Juan, Puerto Rico (photo © Mario E Ramirez and Tost Films)

At a time when Puerto Ricans have lost many family members and are still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, this message of support and unity is well placed. It also reminds us that many people have dual nationalities, particularly as we remember the powerful and moving immigrant stories that form the histories and cultures of many countries today.

Evaristo Angurria “DOS PATRIAS” for “Santurce Es Ley 7” in San Juan, Puerto Rico (photo © Mario E Ramirez and Tost Films)
Evaristo Angurria “DOS PATRIAS” for “Santurce Es Ley 7” in San Juan, Puerto Rico (photo © Mario E Ramirez and Tost Films)
Evaristo Angurria “DOS PATRIAS” for “Santurce Es Ley 7” in San Juan, Puerto Rico (photo © Mario E Ramirez and Tost Films)
Evaristo Angurria “DOS PATRIAS” for “Santurce Es Ley 7” in San Juan, Puerto Rico (photo © Mario E Ramirez and Tost Films)

BLEK LE RAT TOURS THE US SOUTH

Tennessee and Texas Sample a Certain Street Savoir Faire

Look out for Le Rat!

He’s getting up in places down south that you wouldn’t normally associate with a French Street Artist, much less the one who started stenciling in a style and manner unusual on Paris walls in ’81 – an antecedent for much of what we later would call ‘Street Art”. 

Blek Le Rat. Houston, TX. (photo © Brian Greif)

Thanks to gallerist and collector Brian Greif, Blek Le Rat made a run for it through Texas in cities like Waco, Austin, and Houston – after spending a week teaching students at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville how to create stencils in his distinct style.  

It was a unique experience for the artist roughly 40 years after he first began doing these same activities illegally and under cover of night – and Greif tells us that the artist was so moved by the large audiences and appreciation by new fans that he is even encouraged to return.

Blek Le Rat. Houston, TX. (photo © Brian Greif)

“I think its time now to go back to the real sources of street art by painting real walls in real cities and not just the major cities around the world,” says Blek in an interview with Greif. “We need to touch people by painting walls in cities that have not experienced this movement.”

Blek Le Rat. Nashville. (photo © Brian Greif)
Blek Le Rat. Nashville. (photo © Brian Greif)
Blek Le Rat. Nashville. (photo © Brian Greif)
“So two cats walk into a bar…” Blek Le Rat. Nashville. (photo © Brian Greif)
Blek Le Rat. Nashville. (photo © Brian Greif)
Blek Le Rat. Austin, TX. (photo © Brian Greif)
Blek Le Rat. Austin, TX. (photo © Brian Greif)
Blek Le Rat. Waco, TX. (photo © Brian Greif)
Blek Le Rat. Waco, TX. (photo © Brian Greif)

FUTURA GOES “FULL FRAME” BY MAGDA DANYSZ

One benefit of being ahead of your time is that you can paint your own rules, discover your own voice, set a standard. A drawback is that you may have to push forward on your own before you gain support for what you are pursuing. The key is to keep moving.

Futura 2000 FULL FRAME By Magda Danysz. Drago Publisher. Rome, Italy. 2018.

As Futura pulls fully into the frame of contemporary artist, its important for upcoming artists to remember that he had a long route – including being a bike messenger on Manhattan’s untamed streets to provide for his family – while he was waiting until the rest of the street and art world caught up with him. Now that Street Art has confirmed that his abstract explorations on subway trains were an early sign of what was coming, brands and gallerists and collectors often call.  “Full Frame” helps appreciate the body of work he developed during that time.

Futura 2000 FULL FRAME By Magda Danysz. Drago Publisher. Rome, Italy. 2018.

Self named Futura 2000 when that sounded futuristic, Lenny Gurr has done more painting on canvas than he realized since the early 80s and his style has continued to evolve and clarify.  

“Just for people to finally get a look at my work – I feel like a lot of what is being revealed hasn’t really been seen,” he tells us as he describes the nearly 300 page yellow tome “Full Frame,” published by Drago and organized by Magda Danysz. Among the richly illustrated pages, Danysz presents important benchmarks in Futura’s steadily growing career and personal life that bring the evolution closer to the reader.

In terms of the visual language in these sketches, diagrams and canvasses, there are a wealth of orbs and symbols and sprays and washes and stellar interstellar journeys that you have never seen before. Evolution appears to be natural for Futura, his pores and nerve endings collecting signals, firing synapses, pushing deep into imaginary worlds.

Futura 2000 FULL FRAME By Magda Danysz. Drago Publisher. Rome, Italy. 2018.

Influences run from expressionists, abstractionists, modernists, punks, the race to the moon and the moonage daydreams of city hippies everywhere. His recurring circle motifs are as much about his internal mind and world as they are about the cosmos.

A sense of balance in the chaos is always present, the palette choices impeccably on point, sharply sweet and frequently daring. Is this fantasy or diary? If Futura hasn’t flown to most of these places, it’s not because he hasn’t tried. But we’re treating these pages and frames of eye-popping other-worlds as evidence that he has.

Futura 2000 FULL FRAME By Magda Danysz. Drago Publisher. Rome, Italy. 2018.

“I think for the most part people appreciate survivors,” he is quoted in the book. Few survivors could be so freely percolating with ideas and graceful in their delivery.

Futura 2000 FULL FRAME By Magda Danysz. Drago Publisher. Rome, Italy. 2018.
Futura 2000 FULL FRAME By Magda Danysz. Drago Publisher. Rome, Italy. 2018.
Futura 2000 FULL FRAME By Magda Danysz. Drago Publisher. Rome, Italy. 2018.
Futura 2000 FULL FRAME By Magda Danysz. Drago Publisher. Rome, Italy. 2018.
Futura 2000 FULL FRAME By Magda Danysz. Drago Publisher. Rome, Italy. 2018.
Futura 2000 FULL FRAME By Magda Danysz. Drago Publisher. Rome, Italy. 2018.

ANNA TARATIEL AND THE MAPS INSIDE OF YOU

Geometric and organic compliment one another here in “Perspectivas y Vacíos” (Perspectives and Gaps) in this new public art by Anna Tartiel in the Centre Cívic Cotxeres Borrell in the center of Barcelona. 

Part of the program 12 + 1 by Contorno Urbano, this piece of work is part of a public initiative started four years ago that brings “urban art closer to people, breaking with the stereotypes and prejudices that surround this artistic expression.” In fact this kind of work and initiative occupies a rare space in cities; largely untouched by bureaucratic obstacles and corporate lust for invasion of the civic discourse with commercials – mediated by a thoughtful community-based committee of organizers.

Anna Taratiel. “Perspectivas y vacíos” Contorno Urbano Foundation. 12 + 1 Project. Barcelona, January 2019. (photo © Clara Anton)

An artist with a street practice as well as a studio practice, Tartiel brings her fascination with internal maps externally, her aesthetic perspective of her own city with its precise lines and imperfections, evoking a Barcelona “full of geometry and movement,” she says. She has also described her work in the past as a sort of internal cartography, a depiction of the maps that we each carry around inside.

Anna Taratiel. “Perspectivas y vacíos” Contorno Urbano Foundation. 12 + 1 Project. Barcelona, January 2019. (photo © Clara Anton)

Graffiti and Street Art researcher/educator Javier Abarca wrote of her work two years ago for a show she was exhibiting entitled “Antipodas” and his description of the matters at play in her work and practice is helpful to understand how she got here on this wall as well.

“Taratiel says that once she had gone in for geometric painting she started to miss the warmth of the organic and the random, a concern that is common among artists who move from the street to canvas and which stems from an essential difference between these two work spaces,” he writes. “If canvas is a blank, inert space that the artist has to fill from scratch, the street is a motley scenario full of meanings. In the street the artist is limited to proposing, and it is the city that gives shape to that proposal by the accumulated effect of many factors.”

Anna Taratiel. “Perspectivas y vacíos” Contorno Urbano Foundation. 12 + 1 Project. Barcelona, January 2019. (photo © Clara Anton)

In this case it is a defined canvas on the street, not a raw neglected wall in a marginal sector of the city. It is a challenge of blending these competing impulses and finding where they overlap, perhaps. This may depend on your perspective.

Anna Taratiel. “Perspectivas y vacíos” Contorno Urbano Foundation. 12 + 1 Project. Barcelona, January 2019. (photo © Clara Anton)

“FEW MOMENTS AGO I WAS HERE” SAYS KLONE

Stateless.

Klone is prowling between states, transitory and without volume, beams of light and color washes and flickers of memory, or false memory. The Ukrainian born, Israel bound Street Artist is as good with the unforgiving street as the undefined gallery, muting features from common characters and tracing shadows, summoning foxes, crows, cats as guardians and confidants.

Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.

A mark-maker on the streets of Tel-Aviv since the 90s, his practice is by necessity within a hidden realm, and if you stay there long enough, it becomes yours; carefully and boldly speaking, summoning folklore and mythology, mastering the art of masked meaning and inference.

Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.

Tagging and graffiti gave way to other urban traditions he has been eager to author, organic in his methods for discovery. His expanding practice of multiple disciplines has led him to the street and into the gallery and back to the street in Europe, the Middle East, the US, back to Kiev. This collection of excursions appears natural, rendered and even intimately warm even when mimicking, forgetful, fragmented.

Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.

Even his “Movement” chapter, a section of selected works laid out in stop motion frames, stays safely within an imaginary place, fables of connection, disconnection, alienation. Perhaps most powerful are his ‘digital interventions’ imaginary hybrids of photography, illustration, aspiration. Hulking eyesores of uninspired architecture or remote land masses are embraced, supported, frolicked within, rested upon.

Here I am, even though you do not see me.

Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.
Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.
Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.
Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.