by Ariston Anderson
Gallerist Jonathan LeVine's concurrent upcoming shows highlight two prominent street artists from opposite sides of the planet, Brooklyn's Doze Green and Blek le Rat from Paris. While the two might not seem to have a lot in common, they're linked by the way they both transform graffiti.
Doze Green hails from the school of hip hop graffiti, an original member of the Rock Steady Crew coming up on the streets and subways of New York in the late '70s and early '80s. Since, his work has evolved into a form of cubist painting, incorporating both figurative abstraction and letter forms.
With his new show, he presents a series of charcoal drawings and mixed media paintings that pay homage to both his Afro-Caribbean and graffiti roots. The addition of collage to his work adds a new level of consciousness — overall a show not to be missed.
Meanwhile, Blek le Rat (aka Xavier Prou) is one of the first artists to use stencils on the street. He gained fame from spray-painting rats all over Paris in the early '80s. This new show offers several political works, from a laughing man driving a gasoline tank, pointing a finger at our energy crisis, to a painting that reads "BANKSY?" next to a portrait of the invisible man, poking fun at the media frenzy surrounding his identity.
Blek's work is often confused with Banksy's, and he is listed as a major influence to the British artist. There's also plenty of signature work in the new show, his startling black-and-white figures which complement the classical architecture of Europe. The artist's new monograph, "Blek le Rat: Getting Through the Walls" is available on Amazon and Powell's.
N.O.O.N and Paris-New York, New York-Paris
Opening reception: 18 October 2008, 7-9pm
18 October-15 November 2008