Recap: Futura "Future-Shock" at Valmorbida in NYC
Last night Futura returned to NYC after a 12-year hiatus from solo shows in his hometown. It was a glorious and glamorous event, honoring the father of Abstract Graffiti as a true original and a legendary cultural figure.
The lights were very low in the huge space in the West Village of Manhattan run by Valmorbida Gallery. A DJ spun uplifting beats as the crowd swelled, while waiters circulated with fresh mixed drinks, chilled white wine, and even Pabst in the can, for the true connoisseur. Many artists, actors, models, musicians, writers from all backgrounds turned out: Stash, Reas, Daze, Lee, Haze, Terror161, Carlos McCormick, Snake1, Ricky Powell, Mare139, Ket1, Wane, Doc, Dontay, Faust, Tats Cru, Allen Benedikt, Jane Dickson, Charlie Ahearn, Fab 5 Freddy, Alice Mizrachi, Dizmology, Marc Miller, Royce Bannon, Elle, Matt Siren, EKG, DB Burkeman and many more.
The canvases were illuminated by accurate rectangular lights and glowed as if they were surgical tables under the spotlight of an intern theater above. These paintings document an aesthetic practice that mutates, and splatters, and gashes, reaching out across the room in arcs and attacks. Futura has a command of the immediate, attractive, expulsive mark: the controlled splatter, the brush stroke that pounces, and the subatomic particle that spins at the center of all of his improvisations.
Futura is one of the iconic figures within this movement, not only for being the first to utilize abstraction within a graffiti context, but also because he has continued to be a unique and progressive figure in the community. In 1981, he infamously painted three subway cars each one in a different color palette with a purely abstract composition. He completely dispensed with letterforms, utilizing spray paint in an atmospheric manner reminiscent of Miro or Kandinsky, although he has stated that he was not familiar with them at the time. The subway car painted with a red color palette called “Break” was fortuitously photographed by Martha Cooper and saved from being lost forever, because he didn’t take photos of any of them. Since then, over the past thirty years, Futura has continued to be a powerful icon of progression within the culture, and in 2012 remains a consistent inspiration:
“…Urban energy frescoes where instinct and spontaneity prevail over theory in the pictorial tradition of the abstract expressionists of the New York School… Over the past three decades, I have tried to define a style & technique that would separate my work from the other artists within my subculture. The process has allowed me to explore the realm of the ABSTRACT and spontaneous. The approach in these new works isn’t SCIENCE ; nor is it SCIENCE FICTION. It’s the discovery of physical boundaries in SIZE & SCALE and the methods in which an individual can EXPAND … his or her horizons; in the pursuit of creativity … in the name of COLOR&COMPOSITION.’ “ (Exhibition statement from his January 2012 exhibition, Expansions, at the Jerome De Noirmont Gallery, Paris.)
More photos after the pagebreak…
Text and Photo: Daniel Feral