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Cruel Summer, curated by collector, graffiti historian and urban anthropologist Roger Gastman, took place in both locations of Jonathan LeVine Gallery (557C West 23rd Street & 529 West 20th Street, in Chelsea NYC) and feature works by over 20 artists, including: Ben Venom, Blade, Caleb Neelon, Cleon Peterson, Cope, Dabs Myla, Eric Haze, Finok, Freedom, Horfe, HuskMitNavn, Mark Bode, Maya Hayuk, Mike Ballard (Cept), Mike Giant, Niagara, Pose, Revok, Rime, Risk, Sam Friedman, Shepard Fairey, Tim Conlon and Victor Reyes.
Roger Gastman founded and published two pop-culture magazines in the 1990s and 2000s called While You Were Sleeping and Swindle (co-published with Shepard Fairey). Gastman served as consulting producer for Banksy’s Oscar-nominated documentary film Exit Through the Gift Shop and has authored over 30 art books including The History of American Graffiti, the definitive story behind the most influential art form in the last 100 years. In 2011, Gastman co-curated Art in the Streets, an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in Los Angeles, the first comprehensive survey of graffiti and street art at a major museum in the United States. He curated PUMP ME UP: D.C. subculture of the 1980s at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 2013 and produced The Legend of COOL “DISCO” DAN, a companion documentary narrated by Henry Rollins.
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Opening of the solo show “Despacho” november 23rd.
Finok presents his research on popular beliefs. There are 27 works, including paintings, drawings and installations.
Using the principle of popular imagery related to Brazilian beliefs, Finok presents a profound look at the perplexity that the boy from the suburbs suffers in discovering the wiles of the world. Later, as an adult, his wisdom and spirituality lead him to protect himself.
Despacho (“Order”), Voodoo, Saravá Ebó . Words of a religious nature that name some of the manifestations derived from the rich Brazilian popular culture Labelled profane by other religious groups , these practices have consolidated themselves into the population which takes refuge in them against the malign intervention of others, under the protection of the deities called Orixás .
Religious considerations aside, what makes an artist research these beliefs and make them the subject of his poetry? Finok answers the question with a vigorous and mature artistic production, bringing to the entire work an authentic significance based on his own experiences.
Comprising explicit or subjective symbolism, containing the perception of hidden threats and consequent guileful intuition of others, a good example is the kite shape, repeated in several works, which simply echoes one of the first disappointments experienced in life: ” The glass impregnated wax of my friend’s kite cut the line that held my own … “
Painting sustains the proposal, as it is a technique of free creation. However, Finok goes deeper by adding elements whose composition demands absolute domination of the method. Through the figures in the foreground, there is the focus on formal happening, the ritual action. The geometric field, sometimes rhythmic and difficult to execute, suggests permanent physical and spiritual struggles in their cutouts and interruptions. The Mediterranean palette of some works, or the same palette subsequently reduced by overlapping layers of bituminous paint of other works, offers a restless interpretation from its tonal contrasts. The scepticism, the uncertainty and subsequent spiritual balance derived from such processes - are not easily distinguished in the images, but it’s strength is clearly perceived. The result is an anarchic joyfulness linked to ordination and enchantment as only great works of art provide.
Anne Lopes, nov/2013
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Thiago Toes at Oma Galeria.
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Interview by Caleb Neelon
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More here: “Studio Visit: Finok”
By Sal. August 27, 2013
Brazilian artist Finok aka Raphael Sagarra recently let us have a peek inside his home & studio in Sao Paulo, to have a look at some new paintings he’s been working on recently. The young artist got introduced to the art world on the streets of his city back in 2002 when he noticed some kids painting graffiti in the street. He was intrigued by this creative illegal activity and quickly got into the “graffiti game” himself. A few years later he became part of the infamous Vlok crew together with graffiti legends such as Nunca, Ise, Vino, Remio, Os Gemeos, Coyo, Toes and many others.
It wasn’t until about 2008-2009 when he started painting his first canvases. After years of painting walls, as well as sketching and drawing on paper, this was a huge change as he wasn’t used to paying attention to so much detail as well as having so much time to work on a single image. This allowed him to experiment more and create deeper, richer, more detailed images, and that is how his recognizable colorful pieces were created. Known for bright, vibrant colors, rich patterns, linear gradients, use of symbols and his signature cartoon like characters, Finok’s works found their way into some respected collections worldwide.
Always inspired by the vibrant culture of his home land, Brazil, different cultures within, traditional kites, fire balloons or religion rituals, he tries to see his everyday life with a different vision and capture elements that people easily overlook. His works and their elements do have a story behind them, but the artist likes to leave it to the observer to get their own interpretation of it all. Combining acrylic paint, latex paint and spray paint, and utilizing different size canvases and wood panels, Finok developed a couple of recognizable types of works that all have root in his street graffiti pieces. Starting with his signature green color, to his familiar characters and portraits, his work got him a collaboration on a charity project with Ray Ban, an art project with Havaianas, and a chance to travel and create work in different corners of the globe. After a very successful show in Colone, Germany in 2012 at Ruttkowski;68 he has another one planned there next year, as well as a solo show opening this November at Smith Galleria in Sao Paolo, for which he’s been preparing works most of the year.
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