Graffiti artist appears in Opera Gallery's latest show
This isn’t the first time that intenational street art masters have been exhibited in Dubai. But what’s different about new show ‘Street Art’, running at Opera Gallery until Wednesday October 24, is its appreciation of
Middle Eastern involvement in the urban art scene. Iranian graffiti artist Mohammad Khodashenas features alongside well-known forefathers of the movement, including American artist Seen, aka Richard ‘Richie’ Mirando, and French pioneers Paul Alexis, Blek Le Rat and Charles Munka. We reveal more about a selection of the artists and their works, as well as why you should check out the 18-piece exhibition.
The Lowdown Exhibition: ‘Street Art Show’ until October 24 at Opera Gallery, Gate Village 3, DIFC (04 323 0909). Artists: Seen, Mr Brainwash, Blek Le Rat, Charles Munka, Paul Alexis, Mohammad Khodashenas Price of works: Dhs35,000 to Dhs300,000.
Blek Le Rat Otherwise known as Xavier Prou, the 60-year-old Frenchman pioneered stencil graffiti and is revered as one of France’s first artists in this genre. He began stencilling images of rats onto public walls in the early ’80s at a time when Banksy, his contemporary equivalent, was likely still in kindergarten (Banksy himself acknowledges that much of his work has been inspired by Blek). To this day, Blek’s influence on the scene is still very much apparent: wannabes are quick to copy his use of historical figures and anonymous people offset on monochromatic backgrounds to imply social statements.
Mohammad Khodashenas A graphic designer by trade, the 37-year-old Iranian artist is known for his bold political statements, and his work often contains cartoon-like Arabic calligraphy. His pieces are layered with colour and scripture, and often seem evolved and eclectic, as though they could have been painted by multiple artists. His subjects have ranged from imams and persecuted victims to the late Che Guevara – in the latter portrait, dripping paint on the canvas mimics blood. In this way, he conveys that artworks are never finished – they continue to have life, even when the artist has completed their work.
Mr Brainwash When LA-based ‘copycat artist’ Thierry Guetta bounced onto the scene in 2008, his presence wasn’t exactly well-received (as shown in Banksy’s 2010 documentary, Exit Through The Gift Shop). However, Mr Brainwash has since become as coveted as LA rival and friend Shepard Fairey. His subjects include everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg to the Michelin Man to Tom Ford; famous fans include the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna.
Seen American graffiti artist Ricardo Mirando, 51, was part of the one of the most iconic street art movements in the world. He started tagging subway trains in his native Bronx in the ’70s, at just 12 years old; when his work drew the attention of fellow artists, he was invited to join a group that used its combined efforts to tag whole train cars. Although government officials outlawed the tagging of subway trains in the early ’80s, Seen ignored the ban and continued to create artworks on the public transport system. At the same time, he branched out into canvas when he realised it would enable his work to be seen by a wider audience, and later launched a tattoo studio in NYC in the late ’80s. His eye-popping graffiti pieces have been featured in museums and galleries alongside legendary artists Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.