Scenes from “2012”

Despite the apocalyptic title of their new exhibition, Graffiti artists Faro, Avoid, and Bloke place more emphasis on wheat paste and acrylic than fire and brimstone.

poster for AVOID, BLOKE and FARO

AVOID, BLOKE and FARO "2012"

at Factory Fresh
in the Bushwick area
This event has ended - (2009-06-05 - 2009-06-21)

In Reviews by Amanda Scigaj 2009-06-15 print

Although this is the first time they’re showing together in a gallery space (some have shown individually), graffiti artists Faro, Avoid, and Bloke are already in the hearts and minds of many a New Yorker. You can see their text-heavy tagging and iconography throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. For the exhibition “2012” at Factory Fresh gallery in Bushwick, curated by Mighty Tanaka, the title may reference visions of the coming end of the world, but the collaborative installations and solo pieces place more emphasis on wheat paste and acrylic than fire and brimstone. The artists’ usual subjects are present in the gallery, but exaggerated because no one needs to look out for the vandal squad. “These big pieces are very flattering, but if you saw their graffiti on the street, they’re these huge fire extinguisher burners that would upset many people,” says Ali Ha, co-owner of Factory Fresh. “It’s irrational and erratic, and it gets destroyed. So here you can see their art, [it is] very calming.”

Photo: Amanda Scigaj
Photo: Amanda Scigaj

‘Calming’ may not be the first word that comes to mind upon entering “2012.” The front room of the gallery features several walls of tagging, wheat pastes, mixed-media and brightly painted items like tentacles and security cameras by Avoid, and airplanes and small fires by Bloke. Faro’s iconic mummies dart across the panels, in addition to a large 3D model draped over the left hand wall. It’s not so much ‘end of the world’ as it is a layered, dense collage of street art, some of which seems hastily put together, with tags and throwups by other artists.

Photo: Amanda Scigaj

Further back into the gallery, the street scene is left behind. The artists expand on their ideas and methods, applying Krylon and Krink to canvas. A wall of uniform 9″ x 9″ pieces showcases lettering by Avoid, Bloke’s zeppelins, and Faro’s ghoulish enforcers, all numbered from left to right. There is certainly more precise handiwork and careful planning with these pieces. Faro’s Mayhem (2009) shows two worlds converging; the United States is represented by the Washington Monument, and Egypt (where Faro spent some of his formative years) is depicted with a burning pyramid. The town at the base of this melee includes small details of each facade, lights aglow against intricate lettering, flags, and small fires.

Ha, a fellow artist under the name Pufferella, opened Factory Fresh with Ad Deville about a year ago, around the same time that the idea for “2012” was pitched. “We knew Alex [Emmart] who was the creator of Mighty Tanaka, and we also knew Faro for many years, since he was seventeen, so we’ve watched him grow. Alex pitched the show to us, and we really liked the idea of their new stuff, and what they’ve been working on, there’s definitely an evolution [in their style] so it was a neat way to show that off.”

Evolution really is the word of the day here. According to curator Emmart, “the ‘2012’ show places the viewer in the middle of a transformation, setting about on an adventure through a shifting paradigm of the world.” Instead of making a direct interpretation of this infamous year, the show plays upon the idea of a turnover or change both in society and in the artists’ work, which may be confusing, or even disappointing, to viewers who were expecting something with a more doomsday bent. However, this may be closer to the real concept of the year in question. “I actually went to Mexico in January where I learned about the Mayan calendar a little bit, and there is no such thing as the end of the world on the Mayan calender,” said Ha. “It just means [the end of] another calendar; Mayans don’t believe in writing one calendar ever. So technically it’s been the end of the world many times over.”

Amanda Scigaj

Amanda Scigaj. Amanda Scigaj grew up in Buffalo, New York certain that football ruined her childhood. Since moving to Brooklyn in 2007 she helped build DIY venue Bodega, ran art shows, and became music editor for libertine publication Chief Magazine. She currently splits her time between the production department of a publishing company, and as a freelance writer. In her free time she likes to record hunt, learn random factual information, and is really trying to finish that Robert Moses biography. » See other writings

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