A few people sat inside the cafe, laptops open. A sign nearby reminded patrons they should take their calls outside. On one of the outdoor tables, a woman video-chatted with a friend and next to her sat two men laughing about the first time they met. Not everyone would recognize Septerhed and Destroy all Design sitting outside the cafe at the table next to her, but those keeping up with the street art scene might. The two create in-your-face street art that makes you look twice and tackles everything from political themes to personal struggles.
The two are teaming up for a very different environment in their upcoming show “Abandon All Hope,” opening November 15 at Lab Art. Destroy first planned on a solo show then chose Septerhed for a collaborative show.
Labeled as the death metal artists of the street art world, they banded together not only as artists but as friends. Their similar concerns ultimately led to a different type of street art than what usually pops up on the streets. Septerhed explained:
[Our art] read[s] like a cross between an inspirational self help book and an instruction manual for the apocalypse, with imagery that proves to be more than just visually orgasmic. A lot of the imagery and messages are a really dark kind of humor, you could say. Most of the influential aesthetic has a hint of a Punk Rock flyer or a Death Metal album to it… In LA I don’t know a lot of artists that put stuff out like we do. I suspect it’s not as popular because it’s not celebrity driven Pop street art, which to the average viewer becomes the winner. Celebrity-driven Pop street art has a tendency to overbear most other types of art in popularity, because it is light, fluffy and easy to digest. We are serving something different that you won’t find on most menus.
The two artists met when Septerhed contacted Destroy on Facebook. When I sat down with them, I realized they not only respected each other’s art but they simply got along as people, each feeding off the other’s statements even when they did not completely agree with each other “Abandon All Hope,” then, becomes less about two artists coming together for a show and more about two friends sharing the gallery space. Yet they both agree and disagree about the move to that space . Destroy stated:
The gallery contains street art. It’s still art; a rose is a rose by any other name. What matters is this – and this is what many of the new jacks forget – is it credible? If you put work all over and then you do a show it’s different than not paying your dues and putting up your show and expecting people to come. There’s a difference.
Everything we did is just basically the message we took on the street – the signage and characters and made them into an archivable format that has a vibrant new feel to it and pushes the palette of the average street piece. Street art is ephemeral. You can’t take it home with you. There’s beauty in that but also in taking the messages and style or characters you see on the streets and put it in your living room.
Having the privilege of sitting down with two street artists I admired, I probed a little into their thoughts about street art in the gallery. The artists find street art therapeutic – even if it’s ultimately temporary – and the gallery space only adds a new way to express themselves. Septerhed explained:
You get a sense where people think you’re only pure if you hit the streets. The streets are just another medium. I’ll hit anything. I’ll hit a wall on the bathroom, I’ll hit your shoes. The gallery is just another medium, another opportunity to connect with another person on another level.
Both artists will display new work at the show. Destroy used the word “neurotic” to describe the works in “Abandon All Hope” and stressed that the artist’s similar mindsets will come through in the show. Destroy explained:
We’ve hung out together so much. We both have a lot of the same financial, emotional and spiritual anguish so all of the work we put out there is all related to that human effort and struggle. Even our names have an abysmal feel to them.
Abandon all Hope” is probably one of the best names we could’ve come up with for our body of work. It’s basically trying to deal with feeling like you have no chance in hell to survive anything by taking things that are important and sacred and serious and twisting them so they become humorous and the truth that comes out of it, from the twisted humor, that’s what makes them work… If there wasn’t a truth that we are making fun of, it wouldn’t make any sense.
If anything, the name of the show pays homage to Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” The descent into madness, debauchery and paranoia are uninvited feelings that test our very mettle. At the same time, we try to keep our content funny in a dark way. For instance, you could have Strawberry Shortcake in a Destroy piece and think how cute. Lest we forget that she, along with other 80s icons, were Cold War products used to shield kids from the horrors of the real world.
“Abandon All Hope” opens at Lab Art November 15 at 7 PM
Lab Art Gallery
217 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tues – Sat 10 AM to 5 PM