Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Josh Keyes - Environmental artist

Josh Keyes is one of those artists whose name is being thrown around a lot at the present moment in time and it is easy to see why. His works carry a huge visual weight loaded up with symbolism and iconography. His painted works remind us of the colour plates in old encyclopedia. His subject is shown in cut away sectioning referencing its immediate surroundings in some not so distance, slightly twisted, probable, yet surreal dream like future. Monuments from various eras show societies love of war and violence feature heavily in his later work, an ode to mankind's inability to learn from its mistakes. Urban elements such as pavement, tagged letterboxes and surveillance cameras making satirical commentary on the rapid expansion of urban sprawl and our loathing/reliance on often ineffective government who are always watching. Automotive relics sit reclaimed by raising sea levels caused by global warming as the creatures that inhabit this dream scape burn with Americas need for fossil fuels. Each subject reaches its own end and its decay is often lovingly depicted as a metamorphosis of butterflies knowing that everything works within a cycle and everything has its own time. Did I miss anything?

Images taken from Josh Keyes website here. More reading here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We all need a'lil Faith47

When its comes to graf there is a definite masculine feeling about the whole scene. Its competitive and often aggressive nature of graffiti means that those that climb to the top of the ladder are often great artists, prolific producers of work, adventurous risk takers and strong self defined characters. Whether they have a message or simply want to get their name out there to mark their turf, the level of drive is something many traditionally trained artists can only wish they had. Many of those working at the top of their field are now venturing in the realms of graphic design using an understanding of composition and firm grasp of typography honed on the streets. Some have even gone as far as to go from scaling buildings for the best spots to doing trade as freelance designers or setting up their own urban design houses.

At best I would say I have a love/hate relationship with graf and graf writers. There tends to be alot of egos out there with little respect of property or people. That aside I have meet the few amongst the masses that embody the purest values that many of the original writers shared. Inside these supportive networks you can chance upon an even rarer figure, the female graffiti artist. No mere street artist these girls have worked hard to earn the dues their male peers take for granted. While New Zealand has the benefit of supporting a number of talented female artists I am going off shore to South Africa to introduce Faith47.

At 31 Faith47 is well established now traveling the world with her art. She still calls Cape Town home raising her young son who paints with her. Ever humble, she had to work hard to earn her cred. Being part of a white ruling minority and often painting in the poor communities surrounding the cities inner center as a way of beautifying their environment. Her advise to other aspiring female graf writers, be self reliant ... carry mace. Her amazing letter forms meld into smaller typographic works that strengthen her poetic writings.

Images lost in transit from here and further reading here.

Why you will love Swoon.

I first read about Swoon in Juxtapoz Magazine well over a year/year and a half ago, it was covering her work being part of a flotilla sailing the Hudson River acting as moving exhibition. I have little information on hand so I make apologizes for any information that later proves incorrect or lacking depth (Her bio simply reads "Swoon lives and works in New York") but I am feeling the greater need to share her with you. She creates worlds populated by cutouts which firstly existed on the walls of New Yorks' inner city only to progressively become realms unto themselves. Her floating worlds have most recently been seen The Venice Biennale as part of the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea. So why should we all love Swoon? Well there is a list of reasons. Her playful street works creating a connection between her and her community and her approach to placing her work where the people are rather then hiding it away in galleries for the learned members of society. Her inventive mind and resolve to work with recycled materials to be remade and born renewed as works of art. That she surrounds herself with such wondrous characters each bringing another element to table. What is not to like? If you need further convincing just look below.

Misplaced from The SPACE Gallery write-up here

Images procured from here and further reading on the Swimming Cities and other projects here.