The exhibition is Nada’s fifth solo show, coming off of a hiatus of six years since his fourth. So the title “Homecoming” is fitting, marking his return to the gallery setting. Those familiar with his personal street art style and murals scattered around the San Juan and Quezon City area will be interested to see how his style has evolved. And evolved it has, revealing a secondary meaning to the show’s title: come into the Nada household.
Hosted during a scorching Brooklyn summer, “Beyond The Streets” boasts over 100,000 square feet of exclusive collections by more than 150 of the world’s most celebrated street artists and pop artists. Located along the newly luxurious Williamsburg waterfront, the exhibition brings together some of society’s most pervasive mark makers and rule breakers.
Curated by Roger Gastman, “Beyond the Streets NYC” displays how graffiti was born in the streets of New York and Philadelphia during the late ’60s and has grown to take over galleries in the 2010s, blending with a new era of pop art.
In January of 2019, Street artist Kaws displayed his largest sculptural installation in the center of Taipei. The installation, an 11 story high inflatable character powered by an army of fans and diesel generators, ran for an entire week for visitors from both Taiwan and other cities to come and enjoy. Surprisingly, though Kaws only announced the installation a couple weeks before the actual event, there were many foreign tourists who had come to enjoy the work.
Every day, hundreds to thousands would line up to get a photo with the character and enjoy a very, very short lights show that would run once the sun went down. Seriously, the show was only a few seconds long.
Twenty-two stories tall. Eighty gallons of house paint. One hundred cans of spray paint. One artist, no assistants. Twenty-four days. That’s quite a feat alone, but throw in an earthquake and now you’ve really got yourself a story. “Every day felt like a near death experience,” Archie Oclos laughs, recalling his time painting the country’s tallest mural last month. “But when the earthquake hit, I was on the scaffolding 12 stories up. The gondola was swinging and banging me against the wall. But once it was over I just kept painting, I had to finish it!”
When looking at photos of Dezio’s work closely cropped, they resemble small paintings on canvas with thick brushstrokes layered on top of each other. Wide, colorful ones in the background and skinny ones on top, their textures gleaming. But really, they’re large murals painted with spray paint on walls. It’s an explicit goal of his, taking the fluid motions of raw strokes and scaling them up in what are normally very flat works that miss texture. “In my graffiti, I started to do a lot more brush strokes you can tell like those big brush strokes and like trying to in a way put back the creation and the movement,” the Shanghai-based artist says while in Hong Kong as part of the HKWalls street art festival.
Kill Choy is an American living in Mexico creating woodblock carvings and street art, situated in a very localized scene in Mexico City. Given this context, you might not guess that she’s actually Filipina. Until recently anyway. A lot of her new works delve deeply into Philippines history and mythology, unfolding in epic battle scenes and tales of lore.
One piece tells the story of Mount Mayon and another the battle of Battle of Mactan. “I’ve become very familiar with Mexican culture and art since moving here five years ago, but realized I don’t have that familiarity with the Philippines because I was born in the US,” she says over Skype, a batok-style tattoo snaking out from under her shirt collar. “So as I made this series revolving around Filipino art, I was teaching myself my ancestors’ history.”
The art of the mural often resides in compromise. Giant public paintings that thousands of people need to see and live with every day already require a sensitivity that gallery art is free from. Throw in government bureaucracy and conservative landlords and an artist’s options dwindle even further. But it’s a challenge that the Low Bros relish. This German street art super duo are well versed in these challenges and what they’ve learned along the way has even influenced their personal works.
Recently the brothers came to our side of town for the HKwalls festival and immediately ran into hurdles. Their final piece, a tranquil swimming pool with 64-bit objects, early 90s computer app windows, and wild pixelation was not their original plan but one that took some rushed and nervous negotiation. When they landed, they found out that the wall they originally planned to paint had been canceled and they would need to come up with a whole new sketch at the last minute which would then need approval. Something as simple as wet floor signs became hurdles, with the owner, whose building housed a public pool, complaining that they sent a negative message. But after some negotiation, Low Bros settled on smiley face signs and got the green light in time to finish the mural on schedule. Turns out that they have now started incorporating the smiley faces into more recent works too. “Shout out to the owner for collaborating!” laughs Flo, one of the two Low Bros. “It’s like a little acid rave object.”
I only had a couple of hours to spend at Art Fair PH this year. It definitely wasn’t enough time to take in everything but I’m still glad I was able to go and have a good experience from it.
Here are my favorites from this year’s exhibits, dividing them into several categories that specifically speak to me.