"The most beautiful of crimes": Feted US graffiti artists open up in Dubai
What’s On caught up with renowned US graffiti artists Pose and Revok ahead of their exhibition in Al Quoz.
Pose was 12-years-old when he started sneaking out to put his stamp on street art in his home-town of Evanston, Illinois. Over on the west coast, California-born Revok was doing the same thing. Today Pose and Revok have made the leap from urban graffiti to the modern contemporary art world, via sold out shows in New York, Miami and Detroit.
Now the pair, who previously collaborated on a huge mural for Manhattan’s famous Houston Bowery Wall, have teamed up again to bring a joint show to The Mine in Al Quoz.
What’s On caught up with Pose and Revok ahead of their Dubai debut.
Can you explain the story behind your names?
Pose: “Back when I started, graffiti was much more about compiling letters that you enjoy painting, rather than the actual significance of the name. If I had to pick again I probably would have chosen a better name, but everything else was taken at the time, so it’s what has stuck.”
Revok: “I picked the name out of a newspaper when I was 15-years-old. I liked the way it sounded and the letters were great for graffiti. I later realised it was the name of a villain from a favourite movie of my father’s [Scanners].”
When did you first become interested in graffiti?
Revok: “I’ve been steadily committed to the most beautiful of crimes since 13 years of age in the year 1990.”
Pose: “I took interest as a young kid while riding the train with my father in the late ‘80s. I was completely blown away and fascinated by this seemingly secret world and language that covered the rooftops and trains. At that point it was the most exciting, mysterious and powerful thing I had ever seen. By 1992 I had given up skateboarding and I actually figured out how to sneak out and try it for myself.”
Have you been to Dubai before? What are your impressions of the burgeoning art scene in Al Quoz?
Pose: “I’ve never been to Dubai and am quickly learning how deep my ignorance may have been. Since the wheels were put in motion for this exhibition, I have researched about the UAE and been blown away by what seems to be an incredibly flourishing, progressive and inspiring scene – so needless to say I’m really excited to experience it first hand.”
Revok: “I have never been to Dubai before, but I’m wide open to the experience.”
Who and what inspires your work?
Pose: “I am inspired by the complexities of the human condition and determined to find my unique way of expressing it.”
Revok: “I enjoy walking or driving around cities – a lot happens out there and some of it is pretty awesome.”
Do you have any stand-out favourites among your past creations?
Revok: “I choose to check the discriminations at the door regarding my fair and balanced loathing and dissatisfaction with all past works. Otherwise there would be no point in continuing forward.”
Pose: “Over the years, I have lots of favourites. It really is a unique feeling to be able to put work on the street that anyone from any walk of life can experience first-hand and have a dialogue with. For that reason I was very proud of the collaborative mural I painted with Revok on the famed Houston and Bowery Wall in New York. It was an honour for me to paint it and be able to pay tribute to the birthplace and forefathers of our movement.
Who are your personal heroes?
Revok: “Anybody who is terrified yet pushes on regardless.”
Pose: “Family members. From kindergarten through to eighth grade, I attended Martin Luther King Elementary School, so no matter where I am at in life, I find myself continually inspired by him.”
What’s your take on the art scene in your own city?
Pose: “I love my city [Chicago] and have the utmost respect for its inhabitants, but I don’t show work there. Chicago has a very rich culture and history in terms of the arts, I find it at times to be fairly ‘one-note’ and fall a bit flat for what I am interested in. I gravitate towards cities that have a larger emphasis on the ‘new’, places where youth culture and counter culture are running wild and have good support.”
Are there any trademarks you include in all your works?
Pose: “My hope is that the style of the work and my approach towards creating it becomes a trademark in itself. This is what I strived for in graffiti so I hope to obtain the same thing with my art.”
What inspired the exhibition you’re bringing to Dubai?
Pose: “For this particular exhibit I am presenting a brand new body of work. I painted several large-scale murals on paper the same way I would outdoors, then tore them apart, repositioned and re-layered them back onto paper. It’s a nod to the temporary nature of our art form; the many layers of paint that exist on our walls due to graffiti and its removal, as well as an attempt to capture the energy and spontaneity of outdoor work. I want the pieces to stand as artefacts of the walls and highlight the richness of the act of painting rather than the end result.”
April 24 to 26
The Mine, Al Quoz, Dubai. Tel: (04) 3791704. Taxi: The Mine. themine.squarespace.com