graffiti

KORALIE

(1977, Montpellier, France)

Koralie belongs to a new generation of boundary-breaking French artists that has emerged since the turn of the millennium and is now carving its mark on the global scene of street art.

Koralie—originally spelt with a “c”—did not plan to become a street artist. She graduated with a degree in architecture and worked for advertising agencies. But when she moved to Toulouse, in southwest France, graffiti was part of the local landscape and she began mingling with emerging street artists. “They told me: ‘You paint on canvas. You should paint on walls.’” At 22, she traded the canvas for the wall. “I used to think that street art was a lack of modesty: Why should I force people to see my art? Who am I to do that?” she recalls. “But then I thought: Architects do the same thing. They create buildings without asking anyone.”

She went on to become one of the most promising artists of her generation, also dabbling in graphic design and recently creating a highly prized Dunny, an action figure made of soft, smooth vinyl released last year. Her work has been seen on the streets and galleries of Tokyo, Paris, Rome, Munich, Barcelona, San Diego, and San Francisco to name a few. In New York, her work is showcased at the Joshua Liner Gallery in Manhattan. She has collaborated on numerous projects with clothing brands like Billabong, Etnies, Upper Playground, and Carhartt, In addition she has done illustrations for magazines and CD covers.

Watch this video of Koraline and Supakitch:

KOFIE ONE

(1973, Los Angeles, US)

Augustin Kofie, or KofieOne, grew up in and has made Los Angeles his lifetime home. He has been active in the LA Graffiti community since the mid-nineties. Many of his murals and productions are still on view. As he has developed over the year, his work reflects his wide range of interests: architectural templates, deconstructed lettering, vintage collage paper, contemporary music, and 1960's-70's iconography. 

Recently he became a member of the Agents of Change, a tight crew of progressive graffiti artists, which also includes Jaybo Monk and Derm from this exhibition as well. He also is a member of the Transcend Collective with Joker, Poesia and more.

With a deep interest in process and structure, Kofie creates works of intense detail centered on the order of balance. The precision of Kofie’s “drafted” art is strongly inspired by modern architecture as well as the form and shape of deconstructed typography.  In his quest for balance, Kofie harmonizes opposing and contradictory dynamics in his work by setting futuristic compositions against vintage earth-toned palettes and collaged graphics, creating organically complex formations through meticulously structured line-work and layering. His style has been dubbed Vintage Futurism.

Watch this video about Kofie One by All City Canvas:


KMNDZ

(Los Angeles, US)

KMNDZ, aka Johnny Rodriguez, is a Los Angeles artist who paints weatherbeaten, suffering steampunk robots and mysterious mechanical devices with street-art style and masterly technique.

A successful leader in the graphic design community, this Los Angeles based artist, has worked for some of the world’s premier design agencies and top entertainment companies. With brands like MTV Networks, Universal Pictures, Microsoft, Lexus, Disney, and Activision populating his resume, Johnny has built an impressive portfolio of both artistic and technological accomplishments in the world of graphic design and new-media. However, first and foremost, Johnny is an artist. He attributes his success in commercial design as a direct result of his passion for art. KMDNZ is about both the past and the future.

Rodriguez’s personal work is quite different from his commercial endeavors. When he sits down to paint, he puts aside the pressures of mass appeal and commercial accessibility, and instead focuses on creating art for himself. Drawing from his own life, his paintings are filled with memories of family and friends, religious undertones, and iconic elements. A recent piece features a drawing of an audio cassette embedded into a hand grenade. This represents a tough look back at the time when his father left their family to fight a war in Nicaragua, and left only an audio recording to explain his actions. 

Watch Johnny painting in his studio:

JESÚS BENÍTEZ

(1985, Mexico City)

Jesús "Dhear" Benítez's style is a mixture of illustration, painting and graffiti, which dominates all disciplines, practices and mergers. His works often represent animal and plant organisms that curious abstraction, without losing its essence of fantasy.

Watch this video by adidasoriginalsmx:


INSA

(United Kingdom)

INSA was born in the United Kingdom and began painting at the age of 12. Prior to this age, he made low, low budget horror films with his friends, and even counts Nightmare on Elm Street’s monstrous Freddie Krueger among his creative influences. The artist is distinguished by the seamless mix of reality and fantasy apparent in all his work. His art is always changing, to the surprise and excitement of his viewers.

His strong opinions regarding popular culture and consumerism are what his art is all about. INSA wants to be known through his art, not by any personal characteristics. He keeps his private life very private, but is most willing to talk about his life and thoughts as an artist. This shrouded identity keeps others from pretending to be like him and allows his viewers to conjure up their own image of who INSA is and what he looks like. He may be of any race, age or physiognomy. In INSA’s view, whatever the viewer imagines, that is what the artist looks like. The one thing he does want his audience to understand about him is his belief that fantasy is always better than reality.

Watch this White Walls project video by Unit44:


HUSH

(1976, Newcastle, England)

HUSH, inspired by detritus, uses futuristic silvers and blacks clothed in a chaotic collage of colour to create a sensual blizzard of femininity, power and loss. Painted in grayscale, often with the eyes blacked out, HUSH's female faces are dehumanised. By reducing them to shells of sexuality, he perfectly encapsulates the transient nature of modern life as well as the timeless forces of passion and desire.

By action painting these faces from history, he achieves "pure expressionism". The collage-effect backgrounds are screen-printed and hand-painted, then the graffiti elements added by hand in the action painting style, sometimes over many months. The final layer of colour replicates sheets of flyposters peeling from our city's walls whilst the Bravura use of aerosol on the portraits lends the pieces a futuristic sheen, echoing the seductive promise of technological fulfillment.

"Some people think my women are serene, others that they're scary. What is clear is the power of their sensuality", says HUSH. The portraits he paints are imposing and alluring, yet confrontational and unobtainable. The implication being that while the pleasures of modern life are fleeting, the succubus legend remains the most potent, rewarding, and perhaps destructive compulsion offered to man.

Watch this installation video by carmichaelgallery:

FRANKY AGUILAR

(California, US)

Franky Aguilar was tired of drawing family-friendly cartoons. The young designer, in early 2012, started hanging out at a Starbucks in Walnut Creek, Calif. with his cracked MacBook and a $100 Wacom tablet. He began scribbling fire-spewing cat heads and flying squadrons of fuchsia donuts, odder visions that harkened back to his high school graffiti days.

Aguilar, who had taught himself programing, cobbled his drawings into a photo editing app called Catwang and released it for free in April 2012. A month later the app had more than 130,000 downloads by people pasting his cartoons on photos they would share on Instagram. Aguilar’s crucial next move: giving his doodles a 99-cent price tag. Within two months the app was bringing in $400 a day.

Soon after, Aguilar and street-apparel maker Upper Playground sold rapper Snoop Dogg on an app called Snoopify, which offers packs of cartoon pimp hats and dreadlocks. On a whim Aguilar designed a $99.99 cartoon marijuana joint called the Golden Jay. Incredibly, 1,000 people have since bought it to garnish their Instagram selfies.

Watch App Art with Franky by KQED Art School here:


FAB FIVE FREDDY

(1959, New York, US)

Fred Brathwaite, more popularly known as Fab 5 Freddy, is an American hip hop pioneer, visual artist and filmmaker. He emerged in New York's downtown underground creative scene in the late 1970s as a camera operator and a regular guest on Glenn O'Brien's public access cable show, TV Party. There he met Chris Stein and Debbie Harry. He was immortalized in 1981 when Harry rapped on the Blondie song "Rapture", "Fab 5 Freddy told me everybody's fly." In the late 1980s, Fab 5 Freddy became the first host of the groundbreaking and first internationally telecast hip-hop music video show, Yo! MTV Raps.

ESCIF

(Valencia, Spain)

Escif is a graffiti artist. He works upon the walls of his home city of Valencia, Spain (and beyond), his arresting black-and-white-and-minimal vignettes depicting strange and thoughtful scenes. The paintings are deceptively simple yet inspired and often incorporate repetitive elements drawn from his personal symbology, which oddly enough may elicit an equally strong response from the viewer.

Black holes; walking walls; tumbling, floating, or falling common objects… there is a mysterious commentary spread over the urban surface that can puzzle and intrigue while somehow making perfect sense. Escif intentions ambiguity in his vertical masonry canvases. When he feels he’s getting tired and predictable, he moves on, looking for new languages that put the past in doubt and reinforce the process of eternal learning.

Escif feels strongly that graffiti removed from the street loses its validity and purpose. The attempts of the established art world to embrace, incorporate, and curate the interventions that a street artist deploys on the walls of the city completely miss—no, lose—the point. He says, “Graffiti as a concept implies transgression of “public” space, and because of this its institutional adaptation ceases to have value.”

Watch this video:


ELICSER

(Toronto, Canada)

With a gritty-soft pallet of distorted figures, teetering tree houses, jumbled skylines, and even infamous hug-me trees, Elicser Elliot is arguably Toronto’s best loved of graffiti artists. A graduate of the Illustration at Sheridan College, he has been producing and showing work in Toronto for almost twelve years. 

Elicser’s outdoor work has ranged from collaborations with the vast majority of Toronto’s top underground artists on murals and grassroots art shows, to being a staple at the Toronto Jazz Festival and Harbourfront Centre. His prolific output has also been featured and reviewed in publications such as Mix Magazine, The Globe and Mail, Spacing and NOW Magazine.

Using artistic skills honed on the alleyways of Toronto, Elicser’s gallery practice often consists of free-form collages -- soft character work mediated by his experiences and relationships with others, and highly improvised found-object experiments.

Watch this video by Wonder Cafe:


EINE

(1970, London, UK)

The prolific street artist Ben Eine (Ben Flynn) is best known his series of spray-painted letter murals on storefront shutters along London’s Middlesex Street, or “Alphabet Street”, as it has become known. Eine’s trademark colorful typography adorns streets in cities all over the world, including LA, Mexico City, and Tokyo, and the artist also creates indoor installations and produces works on canvas in spray paint, acrylic, and glitter. Eine gained worldwide recognition when British Prime Minister David Cameron presented one of his works to President Obama during a state visit. He was also invited to participate in Banksy’s 2008 “Cans Festival” in London.

Watch this documentary:


DOZE GREEN

(1964, New York, US)

Doze Green translates complex metaphysical concepts through his paintings, such as the possible manipulation of energy and matter to create a timeless space. He explores meditations on matter and anti-matter, layers of consciousness, and different possibilities based on cosmology.
 

Through stream-of-consciousness painting, Doze Green creates fractured imagery to convey infinite possibilities. His intention is to reveal works with an ever-changing narrative. Multi-dimensional planes and illusion of time are presented through fragmented, incomplete figures. He believes by depicting beings that are not fully materialized, these beings are not of this realm. He presents possibilities of immortality through paintings where narratives are interminable. His collection of paintings is an extension of this metaphysical concept.
 

Cubist influences include ascending and descending planes and repetitive, overlapping, and concentric lines in an otherwise undefined landscape. For Doze Green, this energy and motion of created forms exist in a visual meeting place of ideas. Influenced by Edo period paintings, Doze Green mixes black gesso with Sumi ink and applies “creatively chaotic, and intuitive brushstrokes,” in a calligraphy-inspired and graffiti aesthetic. Doze Green translates these primitive markings as “biological entities, a swarm of arrows coming in from infinite perspective.”

Watch this interview by Walrus TV:



DIXON

(Caracas, Venezuela)

A confluence of cultures and contradictions, Juan Carlos Noria 'Dixon' is a painter for our times. As a teen growing up in Ottawa, Canada, he became an accomplished figure skater. Grace and lines were an obsession. So, too were his ideas of subversion. He fell out of skating after hitting the rigid class structure of the sport, finding comfort (and discomfort) in visual art, on the streets with a paint can, postering, skateboarding, fleeing police. 

A strange opportunity then came. A world tour with Disney on Ice. It heightened his sense of absurdity, humour and anger, sharpened his visual and social awareness. Arriving back in Ottawa, he hung up the skates and his career took flight with live painting performances. So proficient from his days of graffiti, he quickly earned a reputation for highly resolved canvases produced in front of appreciative crowds. Through these events in various venues, Juan Carlos also ensured a showcase for other young Ottawa artists, raising the bar and pushing them to achieve with him. 

Juan always with an eye on pop culture and current events, found himself painting with increasing anger. He needed to change the channel. In November 2004, he moved to Barcelona, Spain to find a new view of the world and new audiences.

He sometimes works under the pseudonyms of royal or dixon. He has been infuenced by his contemporaries Mark Marsters, Pat Thompson and Dave Cooper. Yet he is without pretense, full of concern for others, quick to laugh and quicker to paint something ripe.

Watch this video about Dixon by DevotionBCN:


DIET

(San Francisco, US)

Tim Diet began painting in the 80's, sneaking out of his parents' house at night to "tag" alongside his older brother. The graffiti lifestyle immediately drew him in and influenced not only his craft, but his persona and idea factory as well. Diet has traveled across the US, Europe and Japan, just to paint. His recognizable work can be found on streets across the globe, in numerous books and publications, and now in galleries as his unique style continues to develop.

With childhood icons and trademarks representative of current day urban experiences, Tim Diet creates colorfully striking narratives through his juxtaposition of nostalgic imagery. His paintings are cleverly playful, evoking a non-judgmental yet multidimensional perspective of varied modern lifestyles. 

Drawing inspiration from his extensive collection of iconic relics from days past, his work communicates through fresh visual language that vividly connects to a broad audience. 


DAVID CHOE

(1976, Los Angeles, US)

David Choe is an American figure painter, muralist, graffiti artist and graphic novelist of Korean descent. His figure paintings, which explore themes of desire, degradation, and exaltation, are characterized by a raw, frenetic tone that he has termed "dirty style". In the graffiti world, he is identified with the bucktoothed whale he has been spray-painting on the streets since he was in his teens.

Choe wanted to be a comic book creator. In a single night in 1996, he wrote a 35-page book of violent sexual obsession which, coupled with drawings and paintings that he created over the next couple of years, eventually became the graphic novel Slow Jams. Choe initially made about 200 copies of Slow Jams on a photocopier and gave them away at Comic-Con in 1998, hoping to interest a publisher.

In late 2003, Choe arrived in Tokyo. In his first 24 hours he punched an undercover security guard due to a misunderstanding resulting from the language barrier. He was arrested and sentenced to three months in prison for violent assault. During that time, he suffered from loneliness, anxiety and a lack of access to art materials. With small pieces of paper and the one pen his cell was allowed, he made over 600 drawings from prison, including portraits of his Japanese cellmates. He also executed a series of erotic paintings using soy sauce, tea, blood and urine for color. After three months, he was released on the condition that he leave Japan immediately and not return.


Watch the documentary "Dirty Hands The Art & Crimes of David Choe": 

DATE FARMERS

(California, US)

The Date Farmers are Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramírez. The artwork by The Date Farmers echoes Mexican-American heritage rooted in California pop culture. Their paintings, collages and three-dimensional sculptures contain elements influenced by graffiti, Mexican street murals, traditional revolutionary posters, sign painting, prison art and tattoos. Living in the peaceful seclusion of the desert, the artists often travel across the border, into Mexicali and Oaxaca to scavenge for materials. With traces of ancient indigenous art, mushrooms, and mescal, the Date Farmers combine familiar pop iconography and corporate logos with figures from comics, folklore and Catholicism. Desert creatures such as coyotes, snakes, and scorpions appear frequently in their works as well as found materials like stamps, bottle caps, hand painted or collaged lettering.

The Date Farmers have a history that is just as compelling as their artwork. Originally from Indio, California, they met at an art gallery in Coachella Valley ten years ago. Marsea Goldberg of New Image Art gave them their first show, naming them The Date Farmers because Armando’s father owned a Date Farm in Coachella where Carlos worked, picking dates. Carlos’ mother was a migrant who once worked with civil rights leader Cesar Chavez -American activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers- during the grape boycott of the 1970s. Through their unique perspective as American-born Chicanos, The Date Farmers explore topical subjects with a profound simplicity.

Watch this video by alf alpha:


DALEK

(1968, Connecticut, US)

Dalek is an American artist and designer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has published two books featuring his artwork, as well as being included in many other books and magazines.

Merging animation, Japanese pop art, and an urban aesthetic, James Marshall 'Dalek' is best known for his Space Monkey character -a strange, vaguely humanoid mouse that he would depict in an array of bright colors and twisted circumstances, often wielding a butcher’s cleaver. Working under the name Dalek, Marshall expressed his ideas through the Space Monkey character until 2007, when he began working in a purely abstract style. 

He has always been engaged in skateboard and graffiti subcultures, and Marshall cites his two-year assistantship in the studio of controversial Japanese artist Takashi Murakami as a formative experience.


Watch a timelapse video by Hurley here:

GREG 'CRAOLA' SIMKINS

(1975, California, US)

Greg “Craola” Simkins was born in 1975 in Torrance California, just south of Los Angeles. He grew up with a menagerie of animals including a number of rabbits, which often emerge in his paintings. He began drawing at the early age of three and was inspired by various cartoons and books. Some standout books that still find their way into his art are Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

Simkins’ art continued to progress to the age of 18, when he started doing graffiti under the name “CRAOLA”. Graffiti art became his impetus for creating and gave him the confidence to paint large works. In addition it taught him perspective, color theory and further developed his artistic skills, which later translated into his work with acrylics.

It is his careful weaving of pop culture, the old masters, nature, carnival kitsch, and his warped imagination, that makes Greg Simkins a sought-after surrealist painter today. Simkins’ artwork has appeared in museums and galleries throughout the world.

Watch this video by Trekell Art Supplies:


CES

Ces began hitting trains in 1983, staying on the showcase lines of the IRTs. As the wall movement began, Ces became a strong writer for the legendary FX crew. Through the crew he had entered the European scene and took full advantage of it, he continues to paint around the world and is co-owner of Tuff City in the Bronx.