BOM.K | CONFUSIONS
Opening reception January 11, 2014 | 8-11pm
On view: January 11 – 25, 2014
Known Gallery / Main Room
441 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Born in Paris in the 7O’s, Bom.k discovered graffiti during his youth, as the southern suburbs he grew in covered themselves with the tags and throw ups of the movement’s first generation. With the help of a few school friends, he quickly initiated himself to the mystery of spray cans on his neighborhood walls until Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper’s Subway Art and Spraycan Art definitely converted him to the noble art.
After moving to the South of France for a few years, Bom.k returned to live in Paris and created the Da Mental Vaporz in 1999 with Iso and Kan. One monumental wall after the other, the crew continuously kept pushing the esthetical boundaries of graffiti, developing groundbreaking themes for the times, such as madness, life in the peripheral suburbs, social exclusion, fear and hate.
With the new century, the crew opened up to a new generation of painters in the 2000 years, welcoming artists like Jaws, Gris1, Brusk and Dran and more recently Sowat and Blo in its ranks. Together, the 9 members of this iconoclast collective traveled the world, England, Spain, Denmark, Belgium and Australia, to participate to numerous festivals, put together ambitious DIY shows and above all, paint whatever comes in there way.
In 2005, Bom.k started developing his style in the comfort of a studio, with the same aesthetical insanity and ambition than his exterior works. Armed with pencils, spray cans and loads of chemical products, he continuously vandalizes canvases that are as big as walls. Logically, his work is quickly noticed by galleries both in France and abroad – Europe, United States and Asia – who invite him to participate in both solo and group shows. Finally, his 2008 book ‘HB Blacktrace’, earned him a solid international reputation, making him one of the major names of post graffiti, illustration and contemporary art.
Today, Bom.k lives and works between Paris and the North of France.
Bom.k has always been one of a kind in France’s Graffiti scene. One only has to look at his drawings, canvases and walls to be convinced. Born and raised in Paris southern suburbs, self though by necessity, he developed his unique style in the streets and abandoned factories of his youth. Quickly, he set himself free from Graffiti’s traditional rules, to follow his own road and create a unique universe, full of distorted monsters, screaming flesh, hybrid sexual creatures, claustrophobic cities and hellish visions.
Beyond the themes he explores, what first strikes viewers when discovering his work, is the incredible dexterity with which he handles spray cans. No one is supposed to draw such thin lines with this rudimentary tool, just like no one is supposed to reach this degree of precision. Spray cans simply haven’t been invented for that. And yet, thanks to the days, weeks and years he’s spent locked in his studio, taming the cans’ pressure, carving minicaps in their plastic leads, Bom.k has managed to reach every artists holly grail: an original touch, a unique style, immediately recognizable by the public, that has earned him the respect and admiration of his pears.
Bom.k hates improvising. It’s quite the opposite. Everything he does is carefully planned as he can spend days sketching an idea, covering pages and pages of papers with pencil strokes. Each one of these sketch are done with the patience of a watchmakers, the delicacy of a goldsmith.
Like most classic painters, Bom.k spends his time looking for places to plant his easel outside of the studio. Unfortunately, what he sees then aren’t red flower shires or beautiful sunsets over the sea, but rather the more sinister aspect of life in the big city, its dirtier, grimier and dangerous aspects. From a background to the other, his paintings reflect what France has become as a nation, a desperate mix between menacing buildings, disillusioned gangs and clogged horizons.
Monstrosity is never very far in his work. As a matter of fact, it is at the center of his preoccupation. Haunted by the visions he sees while lurking the city, by the faces of those he bumps into at every street corner, on each train he rides, Bom.k has spent years completing an imaginary bestiary, full of the hellish creatures that surround him. Like Jerome Bosh, Chris Cunningham or Hans Ballmer, the human body and the deformation of the flesh are one of the major themes of his work. When one takes the time to look at them, it feels like you are not the ones observing them. It’s his creatures that are staring at us, like if they were ready to jump at our throats if we are foolish enough to come to close to his canvases to study them.
Thank god, the women Bom.k creates don’t exist. They are just fantasies, a mirage of his imagination. Just like his B-boys or his monsters, the idea here isn’t merely to try and reproduce realty but rather to explore their inhumanity. To elevate to the rank of pure beauty, the ugliness, sickness and abnormality of these lost souls. Their heads have disappeared, replaced by spray can nozzles. Their terrifying bone structures create flesh puzzles, like if Chernobyl had created sexual hybrids, both intriguing and fascinating. Despite the initial rejection they provoke, his hardcore creatures, stuck in abnormal pornographic poses, can’t help but create a weird sexual tension, repulsive, fascinating and attractive at the same time…
(author: Sowat, DMV crew member.)
En garde for one of the biggest names in international urban art, when SABER’s The Ugly American exhibition starts the 2014 program at The Outsiders London gallery. The enormously well-received show was unveiled at The Outsiders Newcastle in late 2013, and travels to the capital by popular demand.
The swashbuckling American is noted for his success in making traditional graffiti styles relevant to a fine art gallery context – and his effortlessly provocative executions. The latter have included the world’s largest piece of graffiti, interpretations of the usually sacrosanct Stars ʻnʼ Stripes, and using skywriting planes to daub politicised slogans above major US cities.
The exhibitions predominantly abstract works in spray paint, oils and charcoal also include both Saberʼs trademark Stars ‘n’ Stripes flags on stained wood – his “OldMath” series – and depictions of the UK’s Union Jack flag too. The artist’s on-going “BaseElements” works in an abstract graffiti style are also represented. The pieces come in the large-scale format Saber utilises regularly, and more manageable sizes.
“My work is a continuation of certain graffiti styles developed in Southern California,” says Saber by way of description. “However, I have always been fascinated by how to adapt it for a gallery.” His unique form of abstraction is the result of a 22-year journey as a graffiti artist, and consists of multiple layers of fragmented names, hand-styles, marks, shapes and movements woven into deep layers of urban texture.
Saber’s famed outdoor pieces are “about an unrepeatable spontaneous representation of the power of letters, movement and placement. I can’t bring those colours and gestures into a gallery. It’s not graffiti once it’s on the canvas.”
The gallery works, in contrast, he says “Have to be a beautiful painting. I want an average person who knows nothing about graffiti to say, “this is a beautiful painting” that’s the most important thing to me.”
Saberʼs abstracts are painted while considering a theme – in this case, the Ugly American of the title. The phrase was popularised by Eugene Burdick and William Ledererʼs 1958 novel of the same name. Made into a 1963 movie starring Marlon Brando, it concerns the international perception of Americans both personally and politically.
“Itʼs a reference to the excesses, and foul nature, that some believe Americans possess. Obviously this has similarities to modern Britain too, but… I come from this culture thatʼs so self centered, and self-preserved, and I want to expose the cracks in it,” says Saber.
“Not just the endless wars, or PRISM and the treatment of Edward Snowden, but healthcare,” he adds, himself an epilepsy sufferer. “In America thereʼs no philosophy of preventative care. In the UK there’s empathy directed towards the patient. In the US, you get ill and you lose your home. Iʼm a messenger for the future telling the British people what its going to be like when the NHS is fully privatised.”
The graffiti artist and painter known as Saber was born in Southern California in 1976. In 1997, over 35 nights, he painted officially the worldʼs largest piece of graffiti – his name, naturally, in a 250 feet by 55 feet section of the concrete banks of the Los Angeles river. In 2009 the piece was buffed over by US army engineers paid for by US federal stimulus money. Saber offered in person to paint it over himself, rather than use this method of funding: “I turned up with the official buffing colour paint and everything, but they just called the cops.”
In 2010 video clips of Saber painting depictions of US flags were picked up on by mainstream media outlets such as FOX News and MSNBC. While he was pilloried by the stations, the eloquent artist was given screen time to explain that “It was never my intention to insult or disrespect anyone. The decision to paint the flag was to show it as a living, breathing, changing, organism that represents me as an American trying to manage this disease [epilepsy] of mine without health care.”
During 2011, at vast expense to himself, Saber arranged for sky-writing light aircraft to daub the skies over Los Angeles and Manhattan with political slogans. This most commonly concerned a notorious ban on murals legitimate or otherwise, and removal of government funding for the arts, often by a prospective Romney Presidency – for example, “#RomneyHatesArt”.
The Outsiders Gallery
8 Greek Street, Soho
London W1D 4DG United Kingdom
Ph. +44 (0)20 32140055
Tuesday – Saturday
11am to 7pm
REVOK: Made in Detroit is a survey of the last two years of REVOK’s newer body of assemblage work inspired by the artists’ newly adopted hometown. These fantastic 3D collages of found materials are well documented alongside terrific images of the places & spaces of Detroit from which they’re made. The cover of each copy of the book will be individually painted by the artist.
For more info, please visit: moca.org/ or call (213) 626-6222
Limited Edition Prints Drop Today at 3pm, Exclusively at 1xRUN Monday 12/23 at 3pm EST / 12pm PST
“My approach on paper is often similar to outdoor pieces: loose, aggressive, and executed with little planning in terms of the end result. I avoid using pencil and go into a white page with light but hold marker strokes or curves, progressively working darker as the piece takes shape. Every stroke is influenced by the tone and energy of the one before it. From an abstract composition as a starting point, I tend to go in with layers of repetitive figurative imagery that go with the flow that is already laid out on the page. The freestyled characters should seem in motion, up to shit in some sort of fashion, often side profile. Text helps to set the mood. I know the work is done with there is enough narrative to tell many layered intersecting stories.” – Rime
1xRUN Thru Interview
Moving Into Now & Dangerous Joseph Shit by Rime
1xRun: Tell us a little bit about the execution “Moving Into Now”, when was this piece created and with what materials?
Rime: “Moving Into Now” was created over a few sessions over a week and a half period back in the summer of 2013 with markers and shit. I worked on it while in New York City and Los Angeles. The original is the same size as the prints here, 18”x24” inches. There is no definite game plan with these type of works. I draw when in the mood and build on whatever is already on the page.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece compared to your other work?
Rime: This piece has elements inspired by my move back to New York City earlier this year. After 8 years out west it’s nice to be back home.
1xRun: Let’s talk about “Dangerous Joseph Shit” a 60-page limited edition zine that catalogs some of your recent work, tell us about the theme and what people can expect in this zine.
Rime: “Dangerous Joseph Shit” is a compilation of some recent work from the past two years. The aim with the layout is to show the influence graffiti has on my paper work and vice versa.
1xRun: The idea for “Dangerous Joseph Shit” began as a follow up to your Arrest Sheet portfolios, tell us a bit about why you feel that zines and zine culture are so important to graffiti culture?
Rime: I think zines are a good way to display a portion of work or theme in a non formal way. Growing up in graffiti, collecting magazines and books was always a big deal. With the internet taking over of the documentation of graffiti it seems rare to see graffiti in print and not on a screen.
1xRun: Why were zines so impactful on you both growing up and recently?
Rime: I’m down with shit I can look at and hold in my hands.
1xRun: Why should people buy pick up this print and zine pack?
Rime: It will solve all their problems in life.
1xRun: Describe this print and zine in one gut reaction word.
For mor information visit: 1xrun.com