Mr. Brainwash’s “Icons”

Whether attacking a canvas with an Acme-grade paintbrush, mounting a giant horse made of recycled tires, or leaning against a print of Madonna larger than her celebrity presence; scale and grandiosity is the raison d’etre in Mr. Brainwash’s exhibit “Icons”.

In Main Article 2 Reviews by Amanda Scigaj 2010-02-20 print

Mr.Brainwash
Whether attacking a canvas with an Acme-grade paintbrush, mounting a giant horse made of recycled tires, or leaning against a print of Madonna larger than her celebrity presence; scale and grandiosity is the raison d’etre in Mr. Brainwash’s exhibit “Icons”.

Mr. Brainwash at the opening for 'Icons'

Since his entrance onto the contemporary art scene in 2008 with his Los Angles show “Life is Beautiful”, Guetta, better known as Mr. Brainwash, has raised a lot of questions, namely ‘is he for real?’ Guetta began to follow the exploits street artists’ Shepard Fairey and Banksy with a digital video camera, but soon Banksy turned the camera on Guetta, encouraging him to create his own persona, which is the end product of Exit Through the Gift Shop, the documentary being billed as ‘the world’s first street art disaster movie’. Critics and gallerists alike have written him off as a hack, or simply a regurgitation of Banksy and Shepard Fairey’s existing work.

Regardless of sentiment, Guetta’s work draws a crowd. During Thursday’s preview (a nod to the beginning of Fashion Week, perhaps) countless people streamed into the exhibit which was covered in sheer square footage of prints. Turning one corner was a wall of Madonna, Yves Saint Laurents, and Tom Fords; turn another and there are contemporary artists mounted six wide and three tall, including Hirst, Warhol, and Haring. Prints of a Banksy caricature are snuck in the grids of both celebrities and artists alike; hooded and bug-eyed, while the proprietors of technological celebrity, including Steve Jobs, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg share a less crowded space. The aforementioned tire horse presides over the front of the exhibit, the jumbo-sized cans of paint and Pepto-Bismol scattered throughout the floor dwarf in comparison.

Mr. Brainwash-'Michael Jackson' Courtesy of Nadine Johnson Inc

In the lower level, amongst prop-like over sized drums of Behr and seemingly discarded spray paint cans lean some of Brainwash’s more detailed work; using shards of broken CDs and vinyl, Brainwash composed images of celebrated musicians. Notorious B.I.G. leans against Frank Sinatra, sharing company with familiar snapshots of U2, Madonna, David Bowie, and several from the Beatles. Using location to his advantage, Brainwash adds touches and turns this into a nod of the swingin’ Seventies basement, replete with egg swivel chairs, softer lighting, and an over sized boom box that occupies the height of an entire wall.

Without endorsing or refuting his credibility as an artist, Brainwash certainly fulfilled the exhibitions’ namesake. Under his nom de guerre, Guetta created or reproduced images that are easily identifiable; the subjects are no longer individuals, but rather logos in our collective cultural memory.

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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