Elfin art world trickster Speedy Graphito landed in Los Angeles two months ago from Paris, France with a suitcase full of stencils and a head full impressions and ideas germinating from his previous visits to L.A. Working out of Malibu studio provided by his gallerist Fabien Castanier, Speedy lived up to his name, working 14 hours days and creating a full gallery of carefully conceived art work that deals specifically with American culture through a global perspective. His exhibition, “NewWorlds,” opens with a reception Saturday May 11th at Fabien Castanier Gallery.
I was invited for an exclusive CARTWHEEL preview, and wow! Bright colors, clever puns, neon, a spray can mosaic, commentary on memory, shared culture, cultural appropriation, video games, atomic eruptions, and communication devices collide and explode into riot of pointed, playful satire and social commentary.
Now considered one of the world’s top urban artists, Speedy began his art career in Paris in 1983 painting on walls because he thought he couldn’t get a gallery show, explaining with a smile, that
Then, the galleries only showed dead artists.
But by 1984 he and his fellow street artists had gallery shows–one artists would get a gallery and invite the others to join the exhibition. This sense of street collaboration continues to today for Speedy who says he loves to see his street work tagged and added onto by other artists, and to have other artists come in and join him on wall work. The spontaneity of doing street work is like a performance for Speedy and very different than studio work.
“New Worlds” combines Speedy’s street style–abstract base topped by spray and stencil work–with sly painterly pieces. A resin-coated smart phone displays a subliminal message in the Tetras-based tiles; George W. Bush waits forlornly in front of a log cabin for someone to friend him.
Poor George, he has no friends. No one will friend him. You see, I like to use text, the Facebook type imagery. The text over image changes the sense of the sense of the image.
The most ambitious piece is the triptych mural installation with an accompanying video that plays on the adjacent monitor. Speedy was filmed painting the entire mural, then painted the bottom fourth black with a “video loading” symbol. The only way to see the entire piece is to watch the video.
I make a painting today, and everyone can see it all over the world, then it is gone, consumed and forgotten in three days. People are now seeing more and paintings on screen than in real life.
By mixing in images fr0m different generations, from comics, film, and television–Barbarella features in several works as do classic cartoon characters and characters from video games, while television icons are painted using pill shapes–Speedy opens up inter-generational dialogs, stimulating memories, and creating a sense wonderment. We’ve given you a taste in this post of just a few of the pieces and styles in this exuberant show, because you need ot see them all in real life, not just on the screen!
By incorporating painting, sculpture, and installations, “NewWorlds”showcases Speedy, whose humor and intelligence transforms the familiar into the transcendent, as one of the major figures in urban art.
Speedy Graphito “NewWorlds”
May 11-June 8
Artist reception May 11, 7pm to 11pm
12196 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604