contemporary art

Based in Bari in the South of Italy, Nico Skolp is a masterful designer, graffiti writer and muralist with a particular passion for working in public spaces. As he readies to visit and share his talents with us in New York City, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to him:

You began painting on the streets as a graffiti writer while still a teenager. How has your style evolved since?

I still paint graffiti, but I am always searching for new inspiration. I’m interested in the possibility of communicating with a larger audience — one outside of the graffiti community. My murals blend shapes and colors into elaborate site-specific abstractions. Although graffiti is composed of  letters, it is more difficult to understand and more abstract than some other types of art. It is an interesting paradox!

You’ve been increasingly collaborating with other artists. What is that experience like? Is there any artist — in particular — with whom you’d like to collaborate?

I like collaborations. I like sharing visions and methods. It helps sharpen skills. If I could choose anyone with whom to collaborate, I would definitely say MOMO. His works are so interesting!  I admire his research and his experimentation.

Have you a formal art education? 

I graduated  with a degree in Industrial and Communication Design. In fact, I feel more like a designer than an artist. In 2006, I set up a visual arts and design agency, Ff3300.

Do any particular graffiti/street art memories stand out?

There is no one memory — in particular — that stands out. But I feel that my crew — Sorry Guys — contributed to the growth of a new generation of writers. Younger writers often enthusiastically tell me how much we have influenced them, as they grew up following us. It is an honor to think that I have inspired other writers, as  others — who came before me — inspired me.

When you paint in public spaces, do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

It depends. If the work is a commission, frequently I must first produce a sketch. Otherwise, I don’t, but I do seek inspiration beforehand. I used to work spontaneously, but recently, I’ve been using a method based on the rules that represent my style. It was from my style that the software open-source — based on shapes that are controlled by certain variables — was conceived. With these, you can make infinite compositions. You can download the software here. I designed it with Piero Molino, a close friend — an engineer who works for UBER in San Francisco.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

In general, yes! I’m satisfied, but I’m always striving to improve. Technically, I think I’m at a good level, The skills I have acquired have boosted my self-confidence. I’m happy with my life choices.

Have you exhibited your work in gallery settings? 

I’ve never had a solo exhibition. I’ve just contributed canvases to some graffiti exhibitions such as the one held at the 2010 Meeting of Styles in Tessalonica, Greece.  I’ve been thinking recently about showing in a solo exhibition and hopefully start with one in Bari. I love this city and it is where it all started for me. It has recently become a hub for tourism, and I love the idea of making a cultural contribution to it. 

What’s ahead?

I just finished my latest work in Matera, the 2019 Capital of Culture in Europe, and I’m heading now to  New York City, where I’d like to explore its urban art culture and make a contribution — why not a wall? — to the city! I will make myself available for any opportunities.

Yes! That would be wonderful!

Note: Nico Skolp can be contacted via his Instagram or his email nicoff3300@gmail.com.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; all images courtesy of the artist

Featured images:

  1. Matera, Italy
  2. Bari, Italy
  3. Bari, Italy
  4. Corato, Italy
  5. Matera, Italy

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Late last year — when I was out of the country — the Painting Center presented Symbols, Totems and Ciphers. Curated by acclaimed artist Scot Borofsky, who had been active on the streets of the East Village back in the 80’s, the exhibit featured works in a range of media by those artists who had pioneered the street art movement. As I had missed that historical exhibit, I was delighted to discover that a variation of it is now on view at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park South. Featured above is one of the legendary Keith Haring‘s subway drawings, photographed by Fernando Natalici. It was Keith Haring, noted Borofsky, who brought “the idea of street-art into the consciousness of every New Yorker.” What follows are several more images I captured while visiting Studio in the Street: Symbols – Totems – Ciphers at the National Arts Club.

The noted Italian multi-media artist Paolo Buggiani, Street Hanging Sculpture, Mixed media

The late Chicano stencil artist Michael Roman — captured by  Scot Borofsky

Multi-media artist and writer Bob Dombrowski, Thirteen, Silkscreen on paper

The prolific Florida-based artist R.V. (Robin Van Arsdol), RV’s Images, Acrylic on canvas, 1985

Artist and curator Scot Borofsky, whose site specific works on local ruins often referenced Pre-Columbian patterns

Other pioneering street artists featured in Studio in the Street: Symbols – Totems – Ciphers include: AVANTRichard Hambleton, Ken Hiratsuka, SAMO and Kevin Wendall.  The exhibition continues at the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, through June 14 and is open to the public Monday to Friday, 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

Photos of artworks (and photos) by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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The first exhibition ever dedicated to the legendary Basquiat‘s Xerox’s works, Jean-Michel Basquiat: Xerox, continues through this coming Friday, May 31, at Nahmad Contemporary on the Upper East Side. Curated by Basquiat scholar Dieter Buchhart, who had also curated Basquiat’s recent exhibition at the Brant Foundation, Xerox presents over 20 of Basquiat’s key Xerox works from 1981 to 1987, many shown publicly here for the first time. Featured above is King of the Zulus, fashioned with acrylic, oilstick and Xerox collage on paper mounted on canvas. Several more images from this significant exhibition follow:

Untitled, Acrylic and Xerox collage on wood, 1981

Peter and the Wolf, Acrylic, oilstick and Xerox collage on canvas, 1985

Brother’s Sausage, Acrylic, oilstick and Xerox collage on canvas, 1983

Natchez, Acrylic, oil, wood and Xerox collage, 1985

Red Joy, Acrylic, oilstick and Xerox, 1984

Wide view, segment of installation

Nahmad Contemporary is located at 980 Madison Avenue, off 76th Street, on the Upper East Side and is open Monday – Saturday, 10AM – 6PM.

Photo credits: 1 Courtesy Nahmad Contemporary 2-6 Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jason Mamarella, as he readies for today’s print release and his upcoming exhibition at the Living Gallery Outpost.

When I first started exploring NYC’s streets in pursuit of street art —  well over a decade ago — I saw your now-iconic character, dint wooer krsna, everywhere! He was one of the most prolific images around town. He has since been featured in over two dozen books and has made his way onto a range of media including the opening scene of Exit Through the Gift Shop. You’d once told me that dint wooer krsna was conceived as your online identity at about the same time that MySpace was born.

Yes! It was online before it was on the streets. I did not want to reveal who I was. It was critical that my identity remain hidden at that time.  Someone had threatened to shoot me over a woman, and I had reason to believe he was quite serious.

What about the name krsna?  I’ve always wondered about it.

It’s a reference to Hare Krishna. I used to hang out in Hare Krishna temples. The Hindu God Krishna was a vegetarian — as I am. He was a friend of the cow.

What motivated you to hit the streets with dint wooer krsna

I was newly divorced, and I needed to get out of the house. I’d been tagging for years — since I was a teen — but I wanted my character to stand out. krsna was my first wheatpaste.

Have you ever been arrested?

I’ve been arrested three times for vandalism. The first was in 1993 at an after-party at Ferry Point Park. Together with Aones WTO, Kech & James “V.E.” Conte, R.I.P,  I was caught tagging the Bronx Whitestone Bridge. The penalty was  community service and five years ACD. Then in 2008, I was caught and identified online for getting stencils up in Hoboken. After nine summonses, a judge yelled at me for 20 minutes. Nothing more. But I had to pay $3,000 to have a lawyer stand next to me in court. And in 2010, an undercover grabbed me on 2nd Avenue in the East Village for two stickers I’d put up. The cop told me that I was responsible for bringing kids into this “degenerate lifestyle,” and he called the Vandal Squad.

Had you any particular influences? 

James “V.E.” Conte, R.I.P. He got up everywhere. He was obsessive compulsive. I modeled myself on him — trying to get up as much and as often as I possibly could.

For several years you were largely absent from the streets.

Yes, in 2013, I began focusing, almost exclusively, on my studio work.

So what brought you back?

I guess it was always in me. It was just dormant for awhile.

How has the street art scene changed since you first hit the streets with dint wooer krsna?

Just about everything after 2010 is irrelevant; it’s all about legal permission spots. Much of it is devoid of any originality or intellectual merit.

What — do you suppose — is responsible for this change?

Projects like The Bowery Wall and the film Exit Through the Gift Shop have pushed street art so much into the mainstream that it has become trendy. People just want to hop onto the bandwagon.

Yes. It’s certainly lost its subversive appeal to those of us who were initially drawn to that aspect of it. How has your art evolved over time?

I’m leaning more towards abstraction.

You have a new hand-embellished print, Jibb Wibbles, about to be released. I know that your first three prints sold out quickly. How can folks get hold of this new one?

It’s available from House of Roulx at this link. All proceeds will go to benefit Little Wanderers, a non-profit that rescues needy cats.

And can you tell us something about your upcoming exhibit at the Living Gallery Outpost?

I will be showing my new paintings from noon to 9pm on the weekend of June 15th and 16th. They’re dark.

That should be interesting! I’m looking forward to seeing them all!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1 Katherine Zavartkay; 2 Lois Stavsky, 2011, East Village; 3-5 courtesy of the artist

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Inaugurating its New York space with a sprawling, hugely impressive exhibition of a broad range of works by the late Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Brant Foundation has brought the spirit of the legendary artist back to the East Village. Curated by Brant Foundation founder Peter M. Brant with Basquiat scholar Dieter Buchhart and organized in collaboration with the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the exhibition, itself, is a cause for celebration. The image featured above, “Untitled,” was fashioned by the artist in 1981 with acrylic, oilstick, and spray paint on wood, A few more images featuring Basquiat’s raw and largely irreverent aesthetic, captured at this splendid exhibition, follow:

Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown), Acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on canvas, 1983

Big ShoesAcrylic, oilstick and collage on canvas, 1983

Hollywood Africans, Acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 1983

Irony of a Negro Policeman, Acrylic and lipstick on wood, 1981

Arroz con Pollo, Acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 1981

Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump, Acrylic on canvas, 1982

The exhibition continues at the Brant Foundation, 421 East Sixth Street, through May 15. Although admission is free, reservations are necessary.

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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In what is certain to be the Living Installation show of the year, Jadda Cat becomes our country’s first female President replacing our current toxic one. With scored music created by the inimitable Michael Alan Alien, the talented Jadda will morph into various living sculptures — using every material she can find — as she shares her wisdom with us. All will be on view both in Michael’s Bushwick studio and online tomorrow — Saturday evening — from 8pm to midnight. Ticket information is available here.

Scenes from recent Living Installations

And a sample of Michael’s ingeniously conceived and executed visionary artwork

All images courtesy Michael Alan

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Continuing through April 28th at Hashimoto Contemporary on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is “Spotlight: Stencil,” a thoroughly delightful exhibition featuring a range of works by several outstanding artists celebrated for their stylish stencil art. Pictured above is the work of multidisciplinary artist Joe Iurato, whose infectious aesthetic has graced many public spaces here in NYC and beyond. Several more images from “Spotlight: Stencil,” follow:

UK-based muralist and  screenprinter Eelus, The Great Unknown, Aerosol  and silver leaf on panel

UK-based PennyIllusions of Grandeur, 2 layer hand-cut stencil, spray painted onto a 10 Pound note

Colorado-born Mando Marie, Been Both Ways, Acrylic and aerosol on paper

Austro-French duo Jana & JS, La Femme Aux Fleurs, Acrylic, spray paint and stencil on wood assemblage

Anonymous French artist OakOak, Orange’s RevancheSpray paint and acrylic on palette

Located at 210 Rivington Street on the LES, Hashimoto Contemporary is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10AM to 6PM.

Photos of artworks: 1-3 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 4 & 6 Courtesy the gallery

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Dedicated to expanding skateboard culture and education throughout the globe, Learn and Skate — the non-profit founded in France in 2012 — is now on a mission to build a cultural center in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia that will host a library, along with English, music and art classes. Earlier this month, Learn and Skate joined forces with the Museum of Les Abattoirs in Toulouse to launch a skateboard exhibition, featuring works — now online for bidding on Paddle 8 — designed by a diverse range of first-rate urban artists. Featured above are decks designed by Abstrk, Skount, Zalez and Ricardo Cavolo. The following images were captured at the festivities that accompanied the exhibition’s launch:

Exhibition opening

Musicians at play with decks by Mr Cenz, Liard Arnaud, Poni and Hush

Young artists at work

Proud young artist

Works created for Paddle 8 auction by (left to right) French artists Siker, Der, Korail, Superstop and Zalez

Limited edition signed and numbered  photograph by legendary skater and artist Steve Olson

You can view all of the artworks and bid on them here to help support the production of  a cultural center in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Bidding ends on April 24 at 12pm.

All photos courtesy of “Learn and Skate”

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LIMINAL SPACE, Dave Persue‘s first solo exhibition at GR Gallery, showcases the varied and ever-evolving aesthetic of the acclaimed, pioneering West Coast urban artist. Along with works on paper and large canvases are images painted directly onto the gallery walls. On display, too, is a sampling of  classic merchandise — including a children’s book — featuring the legendary Bunny Kitty. Pictured above is the exhibit’s exuberant title piece, Liminal Space, fashioned with acrylic on canvas and glued onto a board in the artist’s frame. What follows are several more images I captured while visiting the gallery:

Dreamstate (Reprise), Acrylic on canvas

A series of artworks inspired by the West Coast artist’s current city, NYC, and its sprawling subways

Luck Dragon painted onto gallery wall

New York Wet Paint, acrylic on canvascollaboration with WANE

And from graffiti art to the aesthetics of fine art with Lafayette, Acrylic on canvas

LIMINAL SPACE continues at GR Gallery, 255 Bowery, through next Sunday. The gallery is open Tuesday – Sunday from 12-7pm.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Celebrating the 90th anniversary of Walt Disney’s iconic Mickey Mouse and his influence on popular culture throughout the globe, Mickey: The True Original Exhibition is an exuberant tribute to the beloved, famed mouse. Featuring artworks in a range of media — including: painting, comic art, yarn bombing, sculpture and installation art — in a labyrinth-like setting, the pop-up exhibition continues through February 10 at 60 10th Avenue in the Meatpacking District. Pictured above is Keith Haring‘s rendition of Mickey Mouse. Several more images from Mickey: The True Original Exhibition follow:

The legendary Kenny Scharf, Cosmic Cavern, close-up, inspired by Mickey Mouse watch

Brooklyn-based Katherine Bernhardt, 99Cent Hot Dog, close-up 

Japanese Pop Art pioneer Keiichi Tanaami, Mickey’s Japan Tourism

LA-based multimedia artist Michael John Kelly, Toon Town

Brooklyn-based fiber artist London Kaye

Mickey: The True Original Exhibition is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am – 8pm. To enter  you must have a ticket purchased in advance. Tickets can be purchased online here.

Photo credits: 1, 2 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 3, 4 & 5 Houda Lazrak

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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