Preview: "Graffuturism" at Soze Gallery in Los Angeles
Tonight is the opening of the much anticipated Graffuturism group exhibition curated by Poesia in Los Angeles. This historical survey spans the history of Abstract and Progressive Graffiti from Futura to the present.
As Futura stated in a recent interview, “There is a whole new crew, this Graffuturism crew. I love that,” he says, “The thing that is great is that it has been coming for a decade. It was great to see 2010 hit. I see things from a decade-to-decade perspective and I see abstract having its time now.”
Other early figures included in this exhibition, who were at the forefront of this thirty-year historical trajectory, are Eric Haze, Carlos Mare, Doze Green, and West One. For a complete introduction, check out the full exhibition essay, which gives a historical overview of the movement. Below are a couple paragraphs from it that discuss some of the artists.
One of the earliest elders to be included is Futura. He is possibly the most influential, if not stylistically, at least as an inspiration to others to find their own path. In the early eighties, after a ten-year career as one of the early seventies writers, he broke away from one of graffiti’s most sacred traditions: the letterform as subject matter. At that point he began to paint in what became known as an “Abstract Graffiti” style. With his groundbreaking subway whole-car “Break,” as well as on the canvasses he was painting at the time, he pushed an atmospheric geometric style to the forefront of his work and began to experiment with a wide array of spray can techniques that had not been seen before.
Around this same time, other early NYC writers, who had also started their careers in the seventies, began to make their own discoveries, taking off in new hybrid directions that were not based on pure graffiti traditions. In 1985, Carlos Mare began to combine abstraction and Wildstyle within the medium of sculpture, which over the past couple of decades has expanded to include other mediums under the term Urban Modernism. Haze also began to cross over into the fine art domain and over the years has created a body of work that might be referred to as Iconographic Minimalism. Doze Green was also a significant member of the early community of writers who crossed over with an experimental style, which in his case included archetypal icons, mystical-poetic typography, figurative motifs and painterly styles. West was also another early intrepid explorer, adopting a gestural expressionist style, applying the muscle memory of train and wall painting to the canvas with his long whole-body marks and splashy, dripping strokes.
This exhibition has also united artists from the second generation who took off from the paths forged by those early pioneers. These artists started to formulate their progressive aesthetics in the late eighties, such as: Boris Tellegen aka Delta, the European three-dimensional geometric letterform pioneer turned pure abstractionist; New Yorker Greg Lamarche aka SpOne, who has been able to establish an abstract typographic collage aesthetic parallel to his foundation as a graffiti writer obsessed with the hand-written letterform; and Part2ism, one of the earliest UK experimentalists in Hyperrealism, as well as the co-founder with Juice126 of the Ikonoklast Movement, which in the early-nineties also came to include abstract colorist Remi Rough. Also beginning in the late eighties on the West Coast of the US, the Wildstyle-reductionist Joker was one of the first graffiti artists to paint purely geometric abstractions and pushed for its acceptance within the graffiti community by founding the Transcend Collective in 1991 with She1, who was an abstract writer in the UK.
The rest of the artists included in the show are hardcore experimentalists from around the globe intent on creating new forms within and outside the aesthetics of graffiti: 2501, Aaron De La Cruz, Augustine Kofie, Carl Raushenbach, Clemens Behr, Derek Bruno, Duncan Jago, DVS 1, El Mac, Erosie, Franco Jaz Fasoli, Gilbert 1, Graphic Surgery, Hense, Hendrik ECB Beikirch, Jaybo Monk, Jurne, Kema, Kenor, Lek, Marco Pho Grassi, Matt W. Moore, Moneyless, O.Two, Rae Martini, Samuel Rodriguez, Sat One, Sever, Shok-1, Sowat, Steve More, Will Barras.
The above are some detail shots of art in the exhibition. To see the full pieces, as well as take in the complete scope of the exhibition, come out to the Soze Gallery tonight.
Text and Photo: Daniel Feral