feat. Visual Art: Buff Monster (NY), Lamour Supreme (NY), Nychos the Weird (Vienna, Austria) Music: Japanther, Sohns, The Hawks (of Holy Rosary), Pop Pistol, Mrs. Howl, Deer Vibes, Disco Wasteland, Langton Drive, Last Nighters, Lost Project, Televangelist, Reason (from Lotus Tribe), DJ Louie Dollars
$10-$12 (all ages), 6pm Sat, Jan 26, The White Rabbit, 2410 N St. Mary's, (210) 737-2221, artslamsa.com
ARTSLAM! 7, this year's edition of SA's one-day art and music phantasmagoria, promises to be a high/low mix of art in chaos that will embarrass those who write-off live painting — a signature of the event — as amateur entertainment. Though many of the participating artists live on the fringe, coming from the worlds of street art and underground comics, there will be some major talent in the house this Saturday. The three guest visual artists: Buff Monster (NY), Lamour Supreme (NY), and Nychos (Vienna, Austria), have each received international acclaim. Buff Monster and Lamour Supreme have done a number of live painting shows together — most recently in Paris.
Buff Monster's pink paintings of ice cream cone characters flaunt a style that, like guest musical artist Japanther, conjures thoughts of the Asian art scene. Lamour Supreme is active in skater culture, designing graphics for apparel store Mishka, and illustrating posters and comics with stylings that trip from Japan to classic black light Americana. Both artists design kaiju — the vinyl toys from Japan that began as movie collectables in the days of Godzilla.
Nychos the Weird, based in Vienna, and working in Paris and Brooklyn, is a street artist who, though gathering attention, remains ellusive — a habit no doubt learned on the streets of Europe, where his complicated murals based on graffiti techniques adorn many an urban wall. "He paints dissected animals being pulled apart, where you get to see the guts and everything," Lamour Supreme told us. "It's a real cool style."
Raised in Hawaii, Buff Monster did "regular, plain-old graffiti" before moving to L.A., where he dropped the spray can to focus on poster art, which garnered him attention that led to gallery shows. He relocated to New York four months ago. His work ranges from paintings (usually pink) that blend flat, graphic design with allegorical landscapes populated by ice cream cone heroes, to vinyl toys and other 3-D work. We asked him what his Melty Misfits vinyl toy series is about.
Buff Monster: I'm a huge Garbage Pail Kids collector. It's not the largest collection, but it's filled with all kinds of crazy, one of a kind items. The Melty Misfits are the most ambitious Garbage Pail Kids homage, or parody, or whatever. I've put in all kinds of details that only die-hards would notice.
I see Takashi Murakami-style Superflat effects in your paintings.
He's definitely one of my favorite artists. His art is amazing, but as far as me being inspired by it, it's not so much the imagery — I really admire the empire he's built. It's incredible.
You've done a lot of street posters, and are now doing toys, and gallery work, too. How does the high/low dynamic work?
I discovered that the more street stuff I did, the more galleries wanted to work with me. For instance, populism is a big part of Superflat. In Murakami's world, a million- dollar sculpture is the same figure as a two-dollar toy that you buy at 7-11.
What new things are you working on?
My last show was heavily inspired by Renaissance paintings. I just love them.
You seem to have a collision between flat, graphic technique, and using traditional depth illusions, landscapes, in the same works.
There's not a clear line between Renaissance paintings and Garbage Pail Kids. For me it sort of works; keeps it cartoony.
You're playing with historical allegories, right? What about At The Crossroads?
That one is based on the convention in the many paintings of "Hercules at the Crossroads," where there are two women, usually with one on the left with mountains in the background to show that choosing a path of virtue is difficult, and another woman on the right, scantily clad, with an idyllic background to show that the path of sin and lust is the easy way. But I reversed that to serve my own purpose. The rest of the ones are based on Christian mythology from the Renaissance, but I'm flipping in my own narratives.
Are people buying into you as a neo-classicist?
Well that's the thing. I think most people who look at my work aren't familiar with the original paintings, aren't aware of what I'm referencing. Which is fine with me. If they do, I think they feel a bit differently. But if you don't know the source of the tale, that's OK, too. But those conventions are tried and true; they're awesome. It's been fun. But my big inspiration is heavy metal music, which might seem kind of odd, given that everything is sort of sweet and cute. I listen to a lot of Black Metal, which is obviously very anti-Christian. But when I was asked to do a painting of the crucifixion for a show — that was awesome.
Based in NYC's Lower East Side, Lamour Supreme grew up in the Bronx during the mid-'80s graffiti and hip-hop era, studied art in college, and then practiced architectural design on Long Island before turning his art practice into a day job. The Current asked Lamour what the New York graffiti scene was like back in the day.
Lamour Supreme: I ran with a smallcrew. I remember a big one, the dominant one in the area I was growing up in. Some of the kids in my crew wanted to join them, but I was like, 'We don't have to join them, we have our own clique here." But these kids got a meeting with the other crew, and thought they were going to get initiated or hooked up. But they ended up just getting beat up. Graffiti crews always have this drama around them, but I never got it, I was never part of that. Somebody goes over your work — so what? Don't harp on it — just go on. It was back during the days when trains were still paintable, and the yard in the Bronx was pretty accessible. But they would usually have dogs and undercover detectives there — these guys were pretty fit, so they could run. When they would catch you in the train yard, they would basically beat you within inches of death, and leave you on the sidewalk. So, when you went in there, you were basically risking life and limb.
But that's the fun part.
Yeah, exactly. That's like why we did it, right? It was extreme sports before the word was coined.
You do a broad range of work, from illustration to toys. Where does your painting come from?
I think I might have been screwed up as a kid with all that black light poster stuff; it's like the first introduction into drugs and that whole culture. It's usually fluorescent colors, bold lines, and simplistic sprays on the kaiju end. That whole kaiju scene in Japan is stuff they've has been doing for years. That's been an inspiration, too. Its hard to pick up on that up and make it your own style.
Is your work distributed in Asia?
Oh, yeah. The Japanese have been real receptive to what I've been doing. Some of the top toy makers, I've done collaborations with them because they like my customs, or my art.
You and Buff Monster have worked together. Do you share imagery?
When we do a colab, he'll do an image, and I'll do part of an image — it's like crossing streams. Our first collaboration was last year at Art Basil Miami. I slept on Buff's floor, and went around with him — so we ended up doing a wall together. The styles really work together. Recently, we did two collaborative prints for Bee Street magazine in Paris, and did live painting for an event they did a few weeks ago.
What are you doing at ARTSLAM!?
Maybe a collaborative piece, where the artists keep their own style, but it all works together.
Cody Schibi has been painting at ARTSLAM! since 2011. The Austin-based illustrator, who does album art for bands, gallery work, and picks up commissions on the Comic-Con circuit, also tries to make many of the smaller events the producers stage in SA throughout the year. We asked Schibi what it's like to paint live at ARTSLAM!.
How does the music affect your painting? If you're in one groove, and another set comes on, does it move your flow to someplace else?
I think it's cool. If I have a certain image, that's ultimately what it's going to turn into. The music changes the environment; it keeps it fresh and interesting. It adds an extra flavor to the art.
Is it weird painting in front of people, having all these people in your studio, so to speak?
That was my initial thought when I started doing it. I'm usually just in my room, just drawing. But having everyone and a lot of madness around was something to get used to. But I love it. ARTSLAM! is definitely my favorite show that I do, because you get to interact with every single person who shows interest, or if they want to ask you anything. Just ask whatever — it's really cool. For people to see the process of what I do, they seem to get a kick out of it, and I get a kick out of their reaction. It's awesome.