Zes on His Journey From Graffiti to the Gallery| LA WEEKLY

May 02 2012 . 09:10am

 

 

By Shelley Leopold

Zes, aka Zeser, aka Zes AWR/MSK, is a Los Angeles graffiti artist with a feral stare that you might only notice in serial killers or creative geniuses. He’s been one of L.A.’s most prolific taggers for many years. If you look up every now and again, you may have noticed his burners in back alleys or on the ledges of buildings in Echo Park, but until very recently, you wouldn’t see his work in a gallery. And, if he had had his way, you weren’t going to.

It took many years of battling the obsessive-compulsive need to fit his name onto inaccessible surfaces (tops of buildings, viaducts, or retaining walls) and the inner demons that go along with that mindset for Zes the graffiti artist to become Zes the gallery artist. Recently, he has been proving to contemporary art audiences that he’s got chops to hang out inside, and to our surprise, he’s looking forward to doing more. “There were other things going on in my life, besides me focusing in on my art and my talent,” explains Zes. “Now I’ve put aside all those other things that were going on and I feel like good things are coming.”

Currently at Morgan Spurlock’s “New Blood” Show at Thinkspace, Zes is showing work alongside that of another of the distinguished AWR/MSK graffiti crew, artist/activist Saber. Saber chose Zes as his “protégé” for the show in keeping with its mentor-protégé theme. “Zes has one of the most unique and aggressive styles out there,” says Saber. “He has been one of my favorite painters for many years now. On the street Zes has pushed boundaries and limits that will never be matched. His abstract canvas work is beautiful.”

Zes, who still prefers not to reveal his face or his real name, made his art gallery debut in February at Known Gallery on Fairfax, the gleaming white cube of a space that showcases up and coming talent, usually alongside already established artists. Zes’ “Excavated Revelations” shared the bill with Retna, a current art world superstar who debuted some new lithographs — pensive work that is much smaller in scale and detail than his usual murals. Zes credits Retna as an early influence, which may explain their similarly textured styles. “I think when it comes to influence, we grew up as part of the same crew, LTS,” says Zes of L.A.’s Toughest Sport writers, another crew he’s affiliated with. “If you go back in history, if you follow LTS style, you’ll see a lot of that.”

Working with ink rollers of various size, acrylics and even buff paint ( “Palomino Beige,” the color most popular with graffiti cleanup teams), the new Zes work consists of beautifully spontaneous textures and color, controlled only by the uniform panels he chooses to utilize. All his wood panels are the same tall, narrow, 24″ x 60″ dimensions, which provide structure. “Even before I started doing the first painting, I just had a picture in my head for many years and I just went by it,” explains Zes about his all-vertical format. “Actually, you could hang these paintings either horizontally or vertically and they work. That’s how I was making them.

And when it comes to the colors, its really just what’s on hand for me,” Zes continues. “Each piece is its own freestyle. It’s different and interesting because I get to work with tools I haven’t worked with before.”

Zes hides letterforms (like his daughter’s name, Love) within his compositions and actually sets instinctual time limits on how long he thinks each piece should take. He has found he’s still motivated by pressure, but this time there are no cops involved. “Right now, I’m just going for it. It is what it is, like graffiti,” he explains. “In my early years I was just out to prove myself and put a name up. I did it for kids in the neighborhood that didn’t have anything else to look at but gang graffiti. To open their minds to something else.”

Thinkspace presents: “New Blood” Curated by Morgan Spurlock, on view through May 19. 6009 Washington Blvd., Culver City. 310-558-3375, www.thinkspacegallery.com

Read article at: laweekly.com

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RETNA | TIME TRAVELER

April 20 2012 . 06:53pm

Find out more at: DigitalRetna.com / Careyes.com.mx

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Dame and Retna | Kuzberg Rest in Peace

March 19 2012 . 05:29pm

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A Conversation With A Great Friend | A New Mural at the Houston/Bowery Wall

March 09 2012 . 06:45am

New York, NY: March 8, 2012

Iron Eye Art Group and Tony Goldman present “A Conversation With A Great Friend“; a new mural at the Houston/Bowery Wall, New York

Goldman Properties is pleased to present “A Conversation With A Great Friend“, a new mural from internationally-recognized graffiti writer RETNA at the Houston/Bowery wall in New York. This is the seventh project at this iconic site, previously adorned with the paintings of Keith Haring and Os Gemeos, among others.

Known for his distinctive hieroglyphs melding ancient Incan, Egyptian, Arabic, Hebrew and Asian calligraphy wih graffiti, RETNA has created a written language unto himself. These symbols convey meaning with each character, drawn directly from an event or dialogue experienced by the artist. Developed from a conversation with curatorial advisor, Medvin Sobio (as the title suggests, RETNA’s own great friend), this mural exists as an audio visual performance; born from a conversation and transcribed onto a surface. The ideas exchanged between these two friends, and their analogies of existence, activate the visual component of the Houston/Bowery façade.

RETNA himself says, ‘No one likes to let someone use something only to have it come back broken. If we let you use it, utilize it to make it better, but don’t bring it back worse than when you got it. In life, we are all part of a cycle- we all have to be mindful of our responsibilities and take care of the gifts we are given. In the end, we are not the owners of the universe, but custodians doing the rounds…’

RETNA’s unique script reads the following phrases across the wall:

‘All the great ones are conscious of universal truths’
‘Watch the heartbeat in your wrist- a precise pulsing beat of life’s drum- with loss of timing you are ill’
‘The power of the world always works in circles’

Listen to the conversation: http://soundcloud.com/digital-retna/a-conversation-with-a-great-friend

RETNA was born in Los Angeles in 1979. Solo presentations of RETNA’s work have been presented in collaboration with New Image Art Gallery in Los Angeles, Primary Projects and The WAREhouse at the Margulies Collection in Miami, and the Hallelujah World Tour (presented by Andrew Valmorbida and Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld) which traveled to exclusive locations in New York and London. RETNA was included in the 2011 blockbuster exhibition Art In the Streets, presented by director Jeffrey Deitch at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. In May 2011, he was commissioned by the Pasadena Museum of Art to paint its façade in its entirety. A month later, he was commissioned by private jet mogul Thomas Flohr to paint a Bombadier Global Express VistaJet, as part of his active fleet. RETNA lives and works in Los Angeles.

goldmanproperties.com / digitalretna.commidcity-arts.com

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ZES & RETNA | EXCAVATED REVELATIONS at KNOWN GALLERY RECAP VIDEO

March 07 2012 . 02:35am

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