Street art is something that can be displayed to either prove a point (political, social, etc..) or to just simply showcase your name and skills. Los Angeles and New York street artists aren't shy of showcasing their ideas and this blog post is merely a sample of what has caught my eye.
With the NY artists, I've been appreciating the work of Swoon and Sane Smith. The two are very different street artists, but both are incredibly talented. Personally, I love looking at Swoon's artwork, as it does truly inspire me and it reminds me of another East Coast artist, Elbow Toe. She uses a wood cutting technique that really works well with street art. Sane Smith doesn't really do too many murals, his work consists of typography and though graffiti and typography aren't always used in the same sentence, they can be one in the same depending on the piece. Smith is very raw and his colors are bright, vivid, and they really catch your attention.
When I look at these pieces I think of city life. Even though Swoon is from New York, I think her work is made for any city. She doesn't only paste her stuff up in NY, but also in LA. The colors, the shape of her art, and the relationship between her art and the wall she places it on top of is really nice to look at. When something puts ease into my mind, it makes me content and happy, which is exactly what her work accomplishes.
Sane Smith does pretty much the opposite of what Swoon does. He's a much more traditional graffiti artist. And when I use the word graffiti, I don't attach it to vandalism. I see it as art, as it should be. But that's a whole other topic that I can debate about some other time. Like I pointed out earlier, he uses vivid colors and his very different typefaces make his work stand out from other street artists. Many of the graffiti artists that have their names as the majority of their work usually turn me off, but Smith's stuff is something else. I really dig the movement of his type and his stuff is much more legible than some of his peers. This type of art always captures city and street life, but he takes it to another level with his colors and highly skillful, and incredibly difficult, typefaces.
As we move onto the West Coast street artists, I wanted to take a break. This guy has been really pissing me off, especially because he has designers make stuff for him. I'm pretty sure out of who I've mentioned so far, they've all done their own work. They didn't have anyone make it for them. Anyway... let me breath for a second before I continue. My blood pressure is rising from just writing about this and googling through his (f)artwork. Okay, so I'm talking about Mr. Brainwash, the star of 'Exit Through the Gift Shop.' What annoys me about this guy is that he exploits art to only make money. He doesn't do it for the love. All I saw him do is have his artists get a pop culture image and throw spray paint on it. And the crowd goes wild. Ugh. Here's an example...
|Mr. Brainwash, starring the respectable Biggie.|
Back to what makes life better. On the West Coast, in Los Angeles, we've got several great street artists, but I wanted to point out a couple that have been producing great work for years now. Especially the legend, Robbie Conal. I love the way he's sarcastic and edgy. His poster art was very controversial, but he didn't really care. Next is a team of two that have been making great street art for a few years now - Mac & Retna. They're muralists who make portraits with a calligraphic touch.
Robbie Conal's art puts a smile on my face. But not the kind of warm hearted smile you see on a father's face when his son makes him proud. It's kind of like an evil smile, because I get what he's doing and even though it's mean, I love it. He usually targets politicians, like President Reagan, and makes their faces zombie-like with the detailing and texture he gives them. His caricature portraits were always eye catching and trouble making. Conal also makes less controversial works of art, like the Gandhi poster above. I put that up to show that he's not really a cynic - Conal is just real.
|Mac & Retna|
|Mac & Retna|
Different, yet still great, Mac & Retna work very well with one another as their styles blend harmonically. Each one plays off the other as they represent Los Angeles' street artist like they own the place. Mac is more of a portrait artist/muralist who uses a great technique to show depth and shadows on a person's face and body. Retna is highly skillful with calligraphy and adding texture to the background that surrounds the portrait. Both of these street artists use a very melodic color set that are really in tune with LA. What I mean by that is the colors of the city and sky are shown through their murals. I've been following these guys for quite some time and the attention they've been getting is truly deserved.