March 15, 2014

HELLBENT: Past Future Perfect




Maxwell Colette Gallery is excited to announce Past Future Perfect, a show of new paintings from J. Mikal Davis a.k.a. Hellbent. The Brooklyn-based Davis has achieved acclaim for his unique street art, which fuses intense colors with ornate stenciling of neoclassical patterns to create a bold, freeform geometry. This will be the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and first show in Chicago.

The gallery will host an opening reception for Past Future Perfect on Friday, April 18 from 6 - 10pm. The reception is free, and open to the public. The artist will be in attendance.

Read the press release for Past Future Perfect here.

Check out more work from Hellbent, including his incredible murals, on his website hellbent art.com.

December 17, 2013

Opening January 11, 2014: Peeta and Alecks Cruz solo shows





Maxwell Colette Gallery is excited to be starting 2014 with two stunning solo shows exploring the cutting edge of post-graffiti letter styles. White Out will feature new paintings from the renowned Italian graffiti artist Peeta (Manuel Di Rita) and Redemption will premier large-scale cardboard sculptures from Chicago-based artist Alecks Cruz.  Both shows will open on Saturday, January 11 with a reception from 6pm - 10pm.

White Out will present white-on-white canvases inspired by the aesthetics of crystalline water: ice and snow.  Peeta states that the paintings in White Out are an “attempt to render the most deceptive condition that snow can cause; in which visibility and contrast are so severely reduced that no reference point remains, and the individual experiences a distorted orientation.” Far from cold, the new paintings  exude a bright, sparkling, total whiteness and convey a painterly sophistication and sumptuous monochromatism that feels very at home in the moment.

Redemption will debut six new sculptures from Alecks Cruz. The three dimensional sculptures are meant to be viewed from all angles, and range in height from three to five feet tall. These pieces, fashioned out of discarded cardboard, are Cruz’s personal reaction to the co-opting of graffiti by external forces. Through the act of slicing the branding and the commercial typography on the cardboard, destroying it, and ultimately reconfiguring it into a graffiti based form, Cruz is able to exact a measure of revenge for the distasteful marketing that threatens to reduce graffiti to cliche.

These two solo shows will run from January 11 - March 1 2014

Read the press release for peeta-white-out.

Read the press release for alecks-cruz-redemption.


October 23, 2013

Opening November 9th: Sidewalk Scholar




Maxwell Colette Gallery is pleased to present Sidewalk Scholar, a solo exhibition of new work from Mario Gonzalez Jr. The show will present large-scale mixed media paintings on wood along with site specific installations from the noted Chicago painter. The exhibit is slated to run from November 09 - December 31, 2013 with an opening reception on Saturday, November 09 from 6 - 10pm.

Gonzalez’s paintings have been described as abstract, but they are far more interested in realities than abstractions. A comparison may be drawn with the loose spontaneity of Asian calligraphy as these works are conceived in the mind’s eye and executed with the swiftness of thought. But the true inspiration for the bold, sinuous forms that inhabit Gonzalez’s paintings are street glyphs, painted with rollers by gang members in the sixties and seventies. These primal markings were intended as signposts for an urban sub-culture but they ended up inspiring the international graffiti culture that would follow. For Gonzalez, who grew up in a world emblazoned with these markings, Sidewalk Scholar is an opportunity to re-contextualize these cryptic runes from the past, and to redirect their energies. Gonzalez’s paintings are shot through with a powerful sense of place, presenting stunned memories of archaic street symbols, objectified and distilled down to their true visual essence.

Mario Gonzalez Jr.’s artistic vision comes from the fusion of fine art training at SAIC and twenty-plus years of graffiti practiced on global streets. In 2013 Gonzalez has seen his work exhibited in a number of museums including MIIT in Turino, Italy, The National Mexican Museum in Chicago and The Chicago Cultural Center. Sidewalk Scholar is the first solo exhibition for Mario Gonzalez Jr. at Maxwell Colette Gallery. Further information may be found on his website: mariogonzalezjr.com.

October 9, 2013

Signs of the Post-Street Art Age...

Photo by carnagenyc via Instigram

When we saw the first pictures of Banksy's outdoor piece on October 1st in NYC, we immediately noticed the sign. Appearing to be held on the wall by mere screws, the "Graffiti Is A Crime" placard seemed to invite it's own removal. There was no doubt in our minds that it would be stolen only to reappear on eBay with an exorbitant price tag.  As it turns out we were correct about it being stolen, but we never anticipated the rest.


via @sozism on Instigram




Sometime between the evening of October 1st and the morning of October 2nd the original sign was removed.  Also, during this same time period Smart Crew replaced the missing signage with their own version reading: "Street Art Is A Crime". Instagram users posted pictures of both versions, some unaware that the sign had even been replaced. The Smart Crew sign lasted until the morning when all signage was removed and the piece was buffed.







via @signofbanksy on Instagram




Then the sign, (or at least someone purporting to have the sign and possessing marginal photoshop editing skills), popped up unexpectedly on Instagram under the account name @signofbanksy. If you believe the photos, the sign spent some time hanging out in various locations around New York.  It even went to view another Banksy site. And then the sign dropped out of sight again...









...until today when this popped up on someone's Bigcartel site. Yes it's true, you can now order a first rate bootleg of the purloined Banksy placard direct from the UK. You gotta give props for the speed of this knockoff venture! After all, it's only been a week since the original went missing. If you're wondering whether there really is market for this kind of thing, based on the volume of reproduction Banksy merchandise currently available for purchase on the internet the answer is a resounding yes.





And speaking of the internet, why hasn't the original sign popped up for sale there? Traditionally eBay is the sale platform of choice for purloined street pieces.  Is it because:
a) the possessor of the sign knows that it is potentially salable through an auction house for tens of thousands of dollars.
b) the possessor fears that any public display or sale of the piece would alert the property owner of the wall from which it was removed who will immediately challenge the ownership and the sale of the sign.
c) the possessor has realized that what he has done is not simply the removal of a piece of street art,  but a felonious theft of a high value piece of art for which he may be subject to arrest.
d) the possessor of the sign is Banksy himself who has been participating in the destruction of the street pieces to prevent them from falling into the hands of speculators and collectors.

This is far from over.  It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.


August 28, 2013

Zore: Gettin' Down, Gettin' Up.



Check out this classic video by Brain Killer, of Mario Gonzalez Jr, (a.k.a. Zore) at work on a mural in his studio. Watching him create his signature hand styles with those broad strokes is just mesmerizing...

Artparasites has just published a fantastic interview with Zore that explores his history, his influences and his thoughts on how far graffiti has come in the past 20 years, and where it is headed. Read the interview and find out more about Zore here.



August 17, 2013

Rodrigo Level and Gabriel Kieling mural for SITE...



Rodrigo Level / Gabriel Kieling Chicago 2013


Rodrigo Level and Gabriel Kieling were invited to paint a mural for SITE, an outdoor mural project sponsored by the South Shore Chamber of Commerce. SITE was organized by Tristan Hummel and curated by Chicago street artist Don't Fret. The project will feature an eclectic lineup with murals to be completed and unveiled over the coming days.

Level and Kieling's wall is located at 7256 S Exchange street. It is definitely worth the trek down to South Shore to see this in person. Big shout out to our pals at Holiday Exploits! We couldn't have done this project without you!



Rodrigo Level / Gabriel Kieling, Chicago 2013






August 14, 2013

Rad Life, Shitty Camera: Jason Pickleman

We sent out a couple cases of shitty disposable cameras to group of super-talented artists. We didn't give them any guidelines, and only one rule: no dick pics. We had no idea what to expect but we've gotten some gems out of the project. And the pics that aren't gems, well, they're special too... 


We gave a camera to Chicagoan Jason Pickleman. Pickleman is an artist and eye about town who enjoys experimental music and good kerning. In addition he is evidently a master of the disposable camera. We have not altered his photographs in ANY way. This is exactly as they were captured. 

We give you the rad life of Jason Pickleman, through a shitty disposable camera:


August 7, 2013

The Brazilian invasion begins...



The Brazilian invasion has begun with this killer mural collaboration by Brazilians Rodrigo Level and Gabriel Kieling! The mural is located in Chicago's Logan Square, and can be easily viewed from the CTA blue line, near the Milwaukee and Fullerton intersection. 

For the project, Level and Kieling sought to paint something that embodies the essence of their uniquely Brazilian street art. Utilizing a minimal palette and bold graphic sense, the two have created something that boldly stands out from the colorful characters and stylized lettering that fill the Logan Square neighborhood.


Detail shot of Rodrigo Level

Says Level of his work, "For each day a mask, for each day equilibrio (equilibrium). We all wear masks to mold ourselves to the world. I wear a mask, you wear a mask, we all do. This, is a mask." Kieling's says of his piece "We are all living our lives, with the constant weight of carrying the burden of death." 


Detail shot of Gabriel Kieling




Level and Kieling are in Chicago for the premier of their exhibition EQUILIBRIO at Maxwell Colette Gallery.  The show is co-curated by Holiday Exploits who will be releasing prints from the artists. Muito obrigado to Logan Square, Flash and the ABC Crew, and Zore for making this happen.




EQUILÍBRIO opens on Friday, August 09 with a reception from 6pm - 10pm. The exhibition will remain on view through September 14, 2013. 


July 18, 2013

Getting Pasted, with ASVP


Classic ASVP 'sociability' paste-ups in Chicago, 2010



In a world where technology allows artists cheap, easy access to print off 1000's of digital renderings with minimal effort, NewYork-based artistic duo ASVP are standing out. While the artists' identities (as well as the acronym ASVP) remain shrouded in mystery, the time and attention to detail they put into their handmade, silk-screened pasters is attracting some serious attention. 
"Nearly everything we do is totally original artwork that is hand drawn, first in pencil, then in ink, then refined over-and-over again and slowly redrawn again in an ultra-clean digital form that gives us the ability to pull super clean, high quality prints. Then we burn our own screens and make our own prints.

We're learning that some people think the images are lifted because of how clean they are. This kills us... The handmade quality is an integral part of who we are and what we hope people will appreciate what we're doing."
Their pieces can be seen on the streets of cities around the world, like London, Zurich, Amsterdam, and Hong Kong, and all across the US in cities like San Francisco, Detroit, Cleveland and here in Chicago where there are still a couple of old ASVP pieces riding from years ago. So when you do spot one, take a minute to appreciate the fact that it wasn't spit out of a copier at Kinko's. 



July 11, 2013

Rodrigo Level and Gabriel Kieling: EQUILIBRIO

Rodrigo Level

Brazil's vibrant street art scene has been producing compelling work both in the streets and in the galleries for years. The current wave of social and political unrest that the country has been experiencing seems to have emboldened those who would utilize the streets as a canvas and magnified the timeliness of their actionsTwo Brazilian artists we've been watching thrive amid this chaos are Rodrigo Level and Gabriel Kieling. These artists share more than the primarily black and white palette of Brazilian Cordel Art, they both pass freely between the street and the gallery scene without compromising their style or the depth of their messaging.


Mural by Gabriel Kieling / Sao Paulo


Soma by Rodrigo Level
acrylic on canvas, 2013
In his youth Rodrigo Level was influenced by the colors covering the walls of his neighborhood of São Paulo. He started painting large-scale graffiti based works on the streets of his hometown in the mid 1990s.  

Over time his paintings evolved from stylized letter forms to abstract shapes which eventually became building blocks of other images. And that palette that had first inspired his work was refined down to black and white, punctuated with subtle pops of sophisticated color.

The tranquility that Level's paintings project is no accident. From the lines to the colors, all is chosen to project the calming harmony that is missing from much of contemporary life. It is the artist's intention that these paintings are meant not to capture or harness this energy, but rather to project it outward. As Level states: "Every energy produced in a positive way and well applied generates everlasting waves. The positive efforts of a generation will always impact positively on future society" 

Refuge by Gabriel Kieling
acrylic on canvas, 2013



Gabriel Kieling is an architect. A native of São Paulo, he was born and raised in that city's downtown. Consequently he finds that the city has had a profound impact on both his work and his art. His other influences are Cordel Art and European artists from the early part of of the last century like Gustav Klimt and Egon Shiele.

For Kieling the progression of his art began indoors through woodcut, stencil and screen printing. The journey then migrated into the street as he sought to express himself in "a scale larger than the paper." Initially he wheat pasted his pre-painted images, but eventually decided to forgo the paper and paint directly on walls.

Working in an almost exclusively monochromatic color palette, his work blends clean, precise lines and geometric shapes with the sensuality of the female form. The resulting images are surprisingly intimate and mesmerizing. Kieling says that the black and white of his art "exposes opposites: the contrast of day and night, the dilemma of life and death, the duality of the universe, harmony and chaos".


We couldn't resist the opportunity to partner with our friends over at Holiday Exploits to bring these two incredibly talented artists to Chicago for a project that they are titling EQUILIBRIO (Portuguese for equilibrium). While Level and Kieling are in Chicago Holiday will be working with them on printed editions, Maxwell Colette Gallery will host an exhibition of new work, and we will all be working together to facilitate some great outdoor installations!  



Mural by Rodrigo Level / Sao Paulo


EQUILIBRIO kicks off August 1st, and culminates with the opening reception at Maxwell Colette Gallery on Friday, August 9 from 6pm - 10pm.

Further information:
holidayexploits.com 

Gabriel Kieling's Flickr | Facebook

Rodrigo Level's Flickr | Facebook

maxwellcolette.com


 Ilustração 1.0 | Moringa | TodaBossa by Gabriel Kieling 2012


July 2, 2013

Hense: New Paintings at Maxwell Colette





HENSE: New Paintings is on view through July 20, 2013 at Maxwell Colette Gallery, featuring a body of large-scale paintings on wood and smaller works on canvas from the internationally lauded muralist, Alex HENSE Brewer.

HENSE’s work is fluid and playful. It is a delicate interplay of geometric shapes, organic forms, abstract lines and frenetic squiggles executed in a furious effusion of saturated pastel hues. His massive, free-form paintings and epic public mural installations are not what you would expect from someone with HENSE’s Graffiti pedigree. His work is a natural extension of the radical visual legacy of Abstract Expressionism, but it is imbued with a palette purloined from some tropical paradise and a swagger that places it firmly in the current Post-Street Art age. HENSE says he is “combining the language and techniques of graffiti art with the formal language of painting in [the] studio,” and that his paintings “are invigorated by the quick pace and commentary of street culture.”  



Alex HENSE Brewer’s nearly two decades working in the realm of public art grants and commissions has produced exterior works across the U.S, and abroad in Spain, France, Japan, Taiwan, Peru and Mexico. In April 2013 he completed a  massive commissioned wall in the heart of Lima, Peru. In the fall of 2012 he garnered national attention for his treatment of the entire exterior of a historic church in Washington, DC.  His work is held in numerous collections including The High Museum of Art in Atlanta.  Complete information about HENSE may be found on his site.




June 27, 2013

7 Questions: Zore

Chicago-based graff writer-turned fine artist Mario Gonzalez Jr., also known as Zore, has been keeping busy this summer. He just had a killer solo show at the Museo Internazionale Italia Arte, and represented the US in the International Meeting of Styles in Wiesbaden, Germany, before heading back to the states to prepare for MoS Chi and a solo show this fall at Maxwell Colette. 

We caught up with him before his European tour, while he was painting the Violet Hour mural. 



How did you first get into graffiti and painting? Believe or not my exposure to graffiti was since birth. My parents and family members wrote on buildings and subway stations here in Chicago since the early 60s. Later on in my youth I grew up in the 70s where muralist and activist took over the streets of Chicago. 

Do you remember your first tag? My first "tag" was JR/JUNIOR in tall simple blockish letters when I was like 9 or 10.

Any good close call stories you can share with us? Lots of "close call" stories...but the best were subway stories... Like the times we would get caught right outside the subway yards with a car full of young mixed race kids with bags of paint and the cops are like "wtf is going on here," and I would tell everyone the same story, "I'm an artist at SAIC! And these are my students and we've been painting all night and I'm dropping them off at the train station," hearts racing knowing damn well half the crew was in the train yards painting already...probably even watching us from the yards talking to the cops, only to be let loose half hour later.

Have you bombed anything you later regretted? One of my biggest regrets came early in life..I must have been 15 and I would keep tagging the same wall on 35 st day after day only to see it had been cleaned the next day. Till one day I was on the 35 st bus and saw this old ass man that walked slower than a snail scrubbing and scrubbing away and it was then I vowed to keep my bombing to public property...which in the end was a good thing. 


 Where do you draw your inspiration? My studio work comes from hanging out at museums and walking the streets my whole life observing the urban grime. My tags are inspired by old Chicago hand styles. My full on burners have more of a Trixter/Orko feel. Two writers that influenced the crap out of true Chicago pieces.

How do you feel about graffiti moving into galleries? Graffiti in museums and Galleries have occurred longer than 90% of us been writing.. One of the first graffiti exhibits in the world was here in Chicago at the museum of science and industry in 1973! I was 3 yrs old..lol! 

I've been showing in galleries and museums since the mid 80s and it changes nothing. I believe that knowing our place in art history is important seeing that most artists have no place in history. Makes me feel proud for never quitting or giving up.

Mario VS Zore? Well that is an interesting subject right there... I believe that both of my alter egos have a place in this world and the man/child inside of me must harvest this energy and make them both function on a level that won't end up killing me, lol. I've been working my whole life developing both souls and staying clear from negative energy from both the art world and graff world, as well and have come to the conclusion that life is about living the best case scenario.


As I sit here in a hallway for better reception in a bed and breakfast from across the world knowing where I came from and where I am now having solo shows in museums and galleries while painting in the streets and packing bags of paint at night fully sponsored as well as self funded from sales and commissions I would say that I am right where I need to be Right Now! 

Would like to say thanks to my familia! Sergio Gomez! The Zhou Family! Liz Lazdins and MAYA for everything that I am doing today. Stay Bold Chicago!

June 22, 2013

Rad Life, Shitty Camera: Goons

We sent out a couple cases of shitty disposable cameras to group of super-talented artists. We didn't give them any guidelines, and only one rule: no dick pics. We had no idea what to expect but we've gotten some gems out of the project, so we've decided to share them with you, our friends, right here on this blog. 

In the second installment of Rad Life, Shitty Camera, we're getting a look at the weird and wonderful world of Goons, through a shitty disposable camera. 

Photos have not been altered in any way.
















May 17, 2013

Symbolism in the Streets: The Work of Sara Conti


Introducing the symbolic, feminine street art of Belgian artist Sara Conti. Drawing inspiration from Mexican muralists, Giotto, tribal art and the Baroque period, her work focuses on the image of matriochkas (Russian nesting dolls), bringing an unapologetically feminine voice to a traditionally male-dominated genre.




www.saraconti.com