Article published by major newspaper “La Presse” in Montreal

September 07 2010 . 06:07pm

The Seventh Letter : graffiti artists at heart.

After Barcelona, Milan, Miami and New York, it is now Montreal’s turn to welcome the members of the artist collective from California « the Seventh Letter » : graffiti artists at heart, Revok’s, Push’s, Norm’s, Pose’s, Reyes’ and Retna’s artwork is currently exhibited at the Yves Laroche art gallery until September 15th.

Just because they were all graffiti artists in the past (indeed the 7th letter of the alphabet is G) does not mean that their works happen to be tags or huge art pieces made up of arabesques that we all have already seen around (as well as my garage door has).

These street artists who are well-known in the rap community left the underground world in order to join the more conventional gallery scene. They already have loads of experience and create high quality art pieces thanks to their mastering art techniques. Their artwork is still exhibited in their Los Angeles gallery.

« After increasing their visibility on the internet, their works are now sold to a new wealthy social elite (or “jeunes riches”), to the fashion industry and so on” , says Louis Coupal, curator of the exhibition WILL RISE. Coupal discovered their work in California and worked with them in 2007 and 2008. They are among the most influential artists throughout the world. The Seventh Letter has even become an apparel brand.

It takes no longer than a rapid view of the exhibition to realize that each one of these artists has its own style. Retna, for instance, creates paintings with the use of photographic screen-printing on wood . The paintings are then personalized with graffiti. In The Black Claw, he appears to focus on the word clawback. The artwork consists of a sophisticated woman whose face is covered with geometrical graffiti. His most beautiful artpiece Monoprint 2, is a silkscreen print which represents a bishop wearing a mitre, surrounded by hints of black and white.

Revok’s work, on the other hand, is characterized by meticulous black and white drawings-as noticed on his silkscreen print Will Rise Print- or by a more abstract type of art as highlighted by Destitute 1 & 2, a piece composed by a superb and delicate superposition of black, white and grey layers, or with This War 1 & 2, where the right amount of color is properly used.

Pose produces a less obscure and more accessible type of art, close to comic book style : bright colors and expressive drawings filled with rage with Untitled #3 or terror with Untitled # 4. As for Reyes, his work is more abstract, and transposed on large-scale canvases. His piece’s title Violent Rhythm (72 inches x 96 inches) suits its content, which can be described as impulsive drips of outdated color lines.

Norm’s thought and expression process is well transmitted. His series of gothic-style portraits (which are being sold from 1000$ to 4000$) is in a way similar to Retna’s artwork, its pieces however being more respectful, so to speak, towards its models. The photographic screen-printings are left untouched, only surrounded by graffiti…except with Untitled D, where the model’s face is replaced by some sort of Hannibal Lecter mask.

« I’m the one who takes pictures of these women, says, Norm, 35, whose body is covered with tattoos. I’ve been doing this for 10 years.”

Push, finally, presents gorgeous acrylic on canvas paintings, although more classic, with geometrical figures, spaces being filled with bold colors, crossed with black lines. A lighter, more stylized and less underground version of graffiti.

From September 10th to September 12th, Norm and his co-workers will also be part of the 8th edition of the Art Tattoo Show of Montreal at the Windsor station, which will host more than 200 tattoo artists coming from all around the world.

Will Rise, from the Seventh Letter collective at Yves Laroche art gallery until September 15th.



Après Barcelone, Milan, Séoul, Miami et New York, Montréal accueille des membres du collectif d’artistes californiens The Seventh Letter: tous graffiteurs dans l’âme, Revok, Push, Norm, Pose, Reyes et Retna exposent leurs oeuvres à la galerie d’art Yves Laroche jusqu’au 15 septembre.


Ce n’est pas parce qu’ils ont tous un passé de graffiteurs (la septième lettre de l’alphabet, c’est le G) que leurs oeuvres sont des tags ou des oeuvres gigantesques aux arabesques qu’on connaît si bien (ma porte de garage aussi).

Ces artistes de la rue assez connus sur la map du rap ont quitté la marge pour la planète tricotée serré des galeries d’art. Ils ont déjà beaucoup d’expérience et créent des oeuvres bien maîtrisées, qu’ils exposent en permanence dans leur galerie de Los Angeles.

«Après avoir eu une forte présence sur l’internet, ils vendent à de nouveaux riches, au monde de la mode, etc., dit Louis Coupal, commissaire de l’exposition WILL RISE qui les a découverts en Californie et qui a travaillé avec eux en 2007 et en 2008. Dans le genre, ils sont parmi les plus influents dans le monde. The Seventh Letter, c’est même devenu une marque de vêtements.»

Après un tour de l’exposition, on se rend compte que chacun a son propre style. Retna crée des toiles à partir de photos sérigraphiées sur bois puis graffitées. Dans The Black Claw, il semble surfer sur le mot récupération (clawback) avec une fille racée et fière au visage recouvert de graffitis géométriques. Sa plus belle oeuvre, Monoprint 2, est une sérigraphie sur papier d’un évêque avec sa mitre, le tout peint avec des touches de noir et blanc.

Avec Revok, on est plus dans le dessin soigné en noir et blanc, comme dans sa sérigraphie Will Rise Print, ou dans l’abstrait, avec Destitute 1 & 2, étagement de blancs, de noirs et de gris d’un bel effet, ou avec This War 1 & 2, où l’usage des couleurs est savamment dosé.

Pose offre pour sa part une production moins hermétique, plus usuelle, avec un style proche de la bédé. Les couleurs sont vives, les dessins expressifs comme la rage dans Untitled #3 ou l’effroi dans Untitled #4. Reyes fait quant à lui bien plus dans l’abstraction avec des oeuvres de grande taille. Son Violent Rythm (72 pouces sur 96) porte bien son nom avec des élancements de traits de couleurs dans des tons vieillis ou passés.

Avec Norm, la volonté d’expression est bien traduite. Sa série de portraits de style gothique (vendus de 1000 $ à 4000 $) ressemble à ce que fait Retna, mais avec plus de respect, si l’on peut dire, envers ses modèles. Les photos sérigraphiées sont laissées intactes, entourées discrètement de graffitis légers… sauf dans Untitled D où le visage est remplacé par une sorte de masque à la Hannibal Lecter.

«C’est moi qui photographie ces femmes, dit Norm, âgé de 35 ans et dont les membres sont recouverts de tatouages. Je fais ce travail depuis 10 ans.»

Enfin, Push présente des oeuvres en acrylique sur toile très belles, plus classiques, avec des figures géométriques dont les espaces sont remplis de couleurs vives, le tout traversé de traits noirs. Du graffiti léger, stylé et moins underground.

Norm et ses collègues participeront également au 8e Art Tattoo Show de Montréal, du 10 au 12 septembre à la gare Windsor, qui accueillera plus de 200 tatoueurs du monde entier.

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Retna and The Mac in Salt Lake City , Utah

November 19 2009 . 03:14am

Salt Lake Building Gets Mural Makeover
November 16, 2009, By Anne Forester,

SALT LAKE CITY — Over the weekend two artists began spray painting the side of an old downtown Salt Lake City building. It’s not vandalism, but a work of art. When it’s done, a religious mural will grace the side of the building.

The side of the building at 160 E. 200 South is getting a face-lift. The wall was once covered by the old Gutherie sign, now something new covers the aged bricks.

"In the beginning a lot of people don’t know what we’re doing. Are we doing vandalism? Graffiti? They see the spray paint," says artist Retna.

Two artists, El Mac and Retna, are creating a mural of the Virgin Mary in their own style.

"It’s kind of done in a modern way. Hopefully people–a lot of people–can enjoy it from all different backgrounds," Retna says.

It takes more than 80 cans of spray and acrylic paint to bring to life the artists’ detailed vision. Surrounding the Virgin Mary are words in Latin.

"It’s actually the Hail Mary, but it’s just done in the Latin version, so it says Ava Maria," Retna explains.

The two artists haven’t always created religious artwork; one artist started off a little bit differently.

"[I] started off doing graffiti, tagging, all the stuff you do as a rebellious youth," Retna says.

He says he always kept his eye on doing something more than just graffiti. He wanted to do work that had meaning.

The owner of Fice Gallery and Urban Boutique, Cory Bullough, hopes the mural will be a landmark piece for the city.

"Pretty much everybody who walks by stops for a couple minutes and tells us that it’s looking good. It’s not even halfway there, so it’s coming along," Bullough says.

The artists say it’s their way of giving back. They hope people in Salt Lake don’t find it controversial, but instead enjoy the mural.

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July 01 2009 . 05:15pm

TSL ARMOR featured in WARP MAGAZINE Japan.

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HENSE in Atlantan Magazine

June 26 2009 . 08:17pm

Find out more about HENSE

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Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money Exhibition Recap on HYPEBEAST x THE GLUTTONY

March 02 2009 . 03:33pm

Find out more at: HYPEBEAST | THE GLUTTONY

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