Shepard Fairey, a.k.a OBEY Giant, was in Johannesburg this past weekend to promote his collaboration with Hennessy Cognac. Two exclusive events took place on Saturday - the bottle signing/meet-and-greet at Anti Est. in Braamfontein, and the launch party at Arts on Main that featured Shepard’s very own DJ set.
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For the second installment of our new feature, Then & Now (check out #1 here), we showcase the growth of one of SA’s most notorious writers, ever - Mr Tapz!
One of the first ‘Tapz’ pieces, dated April 2003:
Over a decade later, 2014:
Large and in charge - an older Tapz piece from 2006:
Mastering the original style in 2014:
This weekend, don’t miss the man himself - Shepard Fairey in Johannesburg!
Bottle signing (Day event):
All information on the flyer…
Launch party (Night event):
//PRIVATE FUNCTION - exclusive tickets up for grabs though:
Head on over to the Facebook page and WIN yourself some tickets…
Opening tomorrow night in Durban at KZNSA Gallery, 18h00.
Reading the city.
Our movement within a city, the way we interact with its streetscape, its surfaces, its asperities and ruptures, is a reading. As we move we actualise a path – a path that is individual, and yet constrained by the possibilities offered. It is much as if we move elliptically through a page of text, accepting some parts, reflecting on or rejecting others. Cognitively, the memories and associations of our lives that subtend the places we pass through, form a network of meaning and reference. Our movement gives this a chronology, the same chronology that is used in narrative - linking through time events that should perhaps find their reason in affect, or gender, or necessity, more than a serial ordering. Finally the coherence produced through reference, ellipsis, conjunction is that of the text – a text whose ultimate meaning lies in the hands of the reader. A text that cannot be neutral but that is shot through with questions of power and access.
Writing the city.
Power, when conceived of as constitutive of the public sphere, as inherent in the categorisations and legalities which influence our reading, allows us to understand how a city is also a textual economy. Street Art is a fundamental, transgressive, part of this economy. Its transgression is both physical and visual. Physically it appropriates, dislodges, superimposes and subverts. Visually it contravenes genres in a writing that opens divergent meanings.
Street Art doesn’t speak TO its immediate environment, it doesn’t speak ABOUT its immediate environment. It JOINS the environment, attaching itself and all of its ego and contradictions and politics, forcing itself to be seen, experienced, witnessed, and ultimately reacted with. It claims its space unashamedly, forcing us to question its existence, to contest its existence, and when we cannot provide any adequate rationalization for why it shouldn’t exist, we must eventually accept it. It forces us to come to terms with our rapidly diminishing space for free expression in the constant commodification of culture and its continued containment in easy-to-ignore categories of constraint: fashion, entertainment, exhibition, publication. By forcing us deeper into our environment, by forcing us to connect graphically with the street, to position ourselves for, or against, or with it, Street Art brings us back into sharp focus as active participants in the lived presence of our public spaces. We begin to re-style our streets, to customize our concrete confines.
Graffiti culture artists refer to themselves as ‘writers’, concerned primarily with letters and a unique style of expressing the angles and aspects of the alphabet. Consequently, the act of painting your ‘name’ or the collection of letters you enjoy expressing is known as ‘style-writing’. The simplest form, the artist signature, commonly called a ‘tag’ is more correctly termed a ‘hand-style’. - Ewok
The challenge of bringing Street Art to a gallery is the challenge of translating subversion of style, transgression of place and divergence of meaning within a frame that reduces the possibilities of the media – surface texture, lighting, movement, context – whilst also inhibiting the movement of the gaze, the path through the city that was also a reading of Street and Art.
Transgression and movement must therefore be found within the works that are displayed. The two central pieces of this exhibition illustrate this in different ways.
The white on white graffiti by Ewok subverts a static reading. Sheen, relief, contour, form, are only discernible as one changes perspective and distance – bringing movement back into the space of the gallery. It is a reading that also requires engagement and an implication by the viewer, returning this work to the space of the street’s divergent discourses.
The final composition involving several street artists - on the floor of the gallery - requires a reading path across its surface. To read one must actualise a path, a vector, a direction over the composition. To create this composition the artists, the writers, were also asked to blindfold themselves and to let their pen traverse paper, apprehending the space of the paper in a movement that could only feel, understand the distances and the orientation – much as we cross the city.
Where to from here?
The artists, the writers, of this exhibition is already developing a project with the city with regards to understanding Street Art and how a re-writing of the city is also a way of empowering and developing.
Concept note by William Kelleher, socio-linguist and educator.
As mentioned last week, Hennessy will be bringing the infamous street artist Shepard Fairey (a.k.a OBEY Giant) to Johannesburg this Saturday, 20 September.
Here’s your chance to win tickets to the bottle signing during the day or the launch event in the evening…
What’s up for grabs:
- 2 x double tickets to the launch (Night @ Arts on Main, Maboneng)
- 1 x ticket to the bottle signing (Day @ Anti. Est, Braamfontein)
Get your hands on the prize:
- To stand a chance to win, visit the Hennesy website to answer the easy question – http://www.hennessy.com/shepardfairey/en-int
Name one of the values that Hennessy and Shepard Fairey share?
Simply share the GSA promo post on Facebook with your answer.
Terms & Conditions (GSA):
- You MUST share our promotional post on Facebook.
- Entrants must be able to attend the events this Saturday.
- Entrants must be older than 18 years of age.
- The prize is not exchangeable for cash or anything else.
- Only the tickets are up for grabs, no Hennessy products.
- Winners will be picked randomly.
- More T’s & C’s on the Hennessy website.
Competition closes on Thurday 18 September.
Winners will be announced on Friday…
Iconic American street artist extraordinaire, Shepard Fairey (a.k.a OBEY), has recently designed a limited edition bottle for Hennessy Cognac - Hennessy Very Special by Shepard Fairey.
Hennessy has also invited Shepard Fairey to celebrate this release with a world tour that hits ten of the worlds most influential cities, including Johannesburg!
Fairey will create a mural in Maboneng Precinct in September 2014 with the objective of uplifting the local community with a thought-provoking visual.
More info about the creation of the bottle design:
“My inspiration in coming up with the art for this Limited Edition was really based on the legacy of Hennessy as a brand,” says Shepard Fairey of his Hennessy Very Special Label design. “To me, Hennessy has always been about quality, authenticity, tradition and elegance.”
The appreciation of Hennessy that Shepard Fairey possessed prior to being invited on this project provided him with a solid background to furthermore explore the brand’s history and savoir-faire.
Invited to Cognac to discover the full Hennessy experience, Fairey embarked on a journey to make his powerful art mesh with such a storied house. When creating his designs, Shepard Fairey wanted to use every possible surface available: “I like the idea of creating an intimate relationship with the owner of the Limited Edition bottle, for them to see my work and to see how every space is utilised from different perspectives: the top of the bottle, the neck, the label.”
The “star icon” mandala featured at the centre of the bottle represents Shepard Fairey’s search for completeness and self-unity, with its signature Obey icon standing as a tribute to his own design heritage: “I’ve always wanted to progress but also always keep a visual connection to some of the elements from my historic work, so that people can see that it has all been a progression of an idea and a style.” The colour scheme used on the label enhance the direct parallel between his signature stylings and Hennessy’s trademark aesthetics: “The great thing is that a lot of the colours and elements that I like to use in my work have been used at Hennessy: gold, black, cream, and red.”
Lifting key features from historic Hennessy designs as well as his own designs, the Very Special Limited Edition
by Shepard Fairey represents the artist’s unique interpretation of the perfect balance between tradition and innovation: “It was amazing for me to see how I could translate my art to the bottle, hopefully retaining the essence of what is beautiful and powerful about it, while bringing my own spirit to it as well.”
Johannesburg Street recreates the city of Johannesburg as one long street through mediums such as printmaking, painting, photography, videography and publications. Alphabet Zoo is a street-culture zine that invites collaboration with other young talented artists, illustrators, publishers and designers. By running silk screen and zine workshops, the Alphabet Zoo duo of Minekulu Ngoyi and Isaac Zavale, Johannesburg-based printmakers, will interact with various public spaces, both in terms of production and exhibiting work. One of the aims of the Alphabet Zoo Research Project is to explore the possibilities of hosting the first Zine Fair or Zine Fest in the city of Johannesburg.
Ngoyi and Zavale both studied at Artist Proof Studios and have been exhibiting in a number of group shows in the last two years, including “AS SEEN ON TV” at Sibi Gallery, and as part of the Independent Publishing Project at the Goethe-Institut and produced with Keleketla! Library and Johannesburg Central Library. Ngoyi and Zavale work from Newtown and are involved in running the newly opened printmaking studio ‘Prints on Paper’.
18 September, 18h30
Goethe on Main @ Arts On Main
245 Main Street, Maboneng, Johannesburg
>> MORE INFO
Join the Johannesburg Street project and take part in free workshops around illustration, zines, book binding, lino cut & monoprint, and more. Here’s the brand new workshop schedule. Registration via http://www.docs.google.com/forms/d/1pfsh417VUy3VNXsfB6f6nVd8VBXbZnyBdBsFbFby5nE/viewform?edit_requested=true
A graffiti jam will be taking place in Westville, Durban this coming weekend. The idea is to get everyone to come together and collaborate on a thematic production.
The wall that will be painted:
The overall theme is “Out of this World”, so think space etc.
Black primer background with purple and pink planets etc. Orange and red, hot browns (warm colours) for fills and white outline with greys in the 3D. Yellow second outline/ floating second. Whatever your vibe is.
Writers pride themselves in developing their style to paint better pieces, often taking years to learn new skills and perfect the craft.
This development is sometimes overlooked and the true adroitness of the writer is not taken into account, especially to those with little knowledge of the spray paint medium.
In this new series, Then & Now, we take a look at the growth of some of SA’s most innovative graffiti writers.
We all start somewhere, don’t we?
First ‘Bias’ piece, 2007:
Bias piece, 2008:
Seven years later, 2014:
Honed skills, 2014:
This new video highlights some of the pieces painted during the 2013 City of Gold Urban Art Festival. The next installment of this annual festival will take place in one months time - October 5 to 11. Get excited!
Video by Cale Waddacor
Music by Sibot
Below are two other videos from the same time:
i spent a few days filming some graffiti that was made during the city of gold graffiti festival here in johannesburg south africa. music by jack parow ft sibot.
Robin Williams tribute: