Interview With ABOVE About His New ’12 Months’ Exhibition
Many of you are probably familiar with ABOVE’s work. You can see his stickers and installations all over the world, and with a background in graffiti and street art he is well versed in what it means to get up. He also does plenty of fine art as well, and just last week had an opening in Zürich. We had the opportunity to exchange a couple questions about what he’s been up to and what this current show looks like
1. As an accomplished gallery artist over the years, what sets the 12 Months solo exhibition apart from shows you have done in the past?
What sets the new 12 Months body of work apart from my previous works would be the range of styles, and compositions I’ve created within each work. The collection of canvas works has examples of patterns, layering, geometric abstraction, and illusions of depth using shadows. 12 Months was inspired by each month of the year. I created 12 new canvas works that had a range of characteristics, colors, and styles, just like how each month of the year also has it’s own character. My color palette for the collection of works ran the whole spectrum. I incorporated new colors I’ve not used before.
2. What is the difference for you in creating something to be displayed on the streets as opposed to in a gallery?
Honestly, not much difference at all. Perhaps actually I give my street pieces more detail and attention? I don’t know really? I think I give indoor works and outdoor works the same amount of devotion to getting it to look the way I intend it to. One main difference with painting outdoors than indoors is that painting outdoors I’ve always favored. The rush from an illegal piece, or the feeling of having a huge wall to paint, are something working on an indoor piece can’t achieve. Working indoors for me is something relatively new and I’m learning what I like, and don’t like. Something I don’t like about indoor works for me at the moment is the size I create on. I like painting big, so painting on a canvas that is 4 foot x 6 foot is large for indoor, but tiny for outdoor. I’m used to painting outside on large buildings so trying to transfer that style onto a canvas that size is not so fun.
3. ABOVE and accompanying arrow have become icons in the street art community, what was the original internet behind the name and design?
I chose the graffiti name ABOVE because of ‘RISE ABOVE.’ I like the mentality and optimism of wanting to push myself to the limits. To overcome challenges and just get out there and make it happen. I tagged my name ABOVE in traditional graffiti letters from 1996-1999. I wanted to change from letters to an icon that would represent the feeling of ‘Rise Above.’ I moved to Paris in 1999, and transitioned from letters to the arrow icon you know today.
4. What about street art or graffiti still gets you excited to see? What in a gallery space gives you a similar feeling?
With graffiti I like seeing new ways of how to get over. It’s an evolution of how one idea can grow and grow. When I was starting out in 1996 we used to steal the insect spray can caps. These would blast out your paint similar to a nozzle tip does these days, but way more powerful. It soon evolved into doing Fire-hydro tags and getting even higher and faster tags. Then evolving into making homemade nozzles to put into Fire-hydros to extend the spray even more.
This excites me to see new ways of doing things. Here in Berlin we have a crew that repels down with mountain climbing gear from the top of the building. They catch tags all the way down. Doing vertical pieces. This is next level and something exciting to see. In regards to things exciting in a gallery space, that can only depend on the artist exhibiting inside that space. You see with the gallery you have to create the space, and outdoors you create on space.
Cheers from Zürich!
The exhibition runs for another 3 weeks, so if you’re around make sue to check it out.