Photo Essays

Urban Art Is In the Spotlight at the Moniker International Art Fair

View our highlights from Frieze Week’s most alternative art fair.

Moniker International Art Fair (all photos by author)

Graffiti and other forms of street art have developed into a formidable genre all their own ever since the practice of “tagging” buildings with stylized signatures began in America around 1914. Far from the first people to put paintings on walls (hello, cavemen) this trend has become prestigious enough to net its own festival during Frieze Week: the Moniker International Art Fair.

With 26 exhibitors, four special projects, and a variety of panels to attend, Moniker advances urban art as a form of political expression and social dialogue. Below are some of our favorite projects from the fair.

Evoca1, “Girl With Flag,” oil on linen

One doesn’t necessarily expect to see figurative painting at a fair devoted to urban art, and that’s one of the many reasons why Evoca1’s large oil paintings initially stood out to me. The Dominican-born figurative artist, whose real name is Elio Mercado, has become a prominent figure in Miami’s street art community. His work brings together vivid imagery with urban spaces, bringing expressive and brooding compositions like “Girl With Flag” into public view.

The five-artist group Fatherless created a shed filled with their glowing, anti-fascist monoprints
Detail view of Fatherless’s installation

One of the most experiential exhibits at Moniker is the five-artist group from America and the United Kingdom called Fatherless, which has created a shed full of neon-colored, anti-fascist monoprints. The group describes their aesthetic as “a visual mix-tape of shenagination” that aims to capture and recontextualize contemporary life. Combining pop culture with graphic design, the works manage to be as funny as they are politically poignant.

Dourone, “Elodie 00:00,03” (2019), acrylic and aerosol on canvas

Dourone is a graffiti artist who got his start in Madrid, Spain before painting his murals across Europe. Consolidation and fragmentation are keys components to the artist’s graphical approach, which play on contemporary worries about the fractured state of information and the pixelization of images in the digital age.

Detail shot of Slava Ptrk’s “View from the Window” (2018), acrylic on canvas, stencil on view at 11.12 Gallery’s booth

The Russian artist Slava Ptrk is a journalist by training, and as such his art circles around social and political realities. “One of my main tools is irony,” he writes on his website. “I try to speak ironically about absurdity that is happening right now, over the absurdity of the surrounding reality.” Accordingly, his “View from the Window” is an orthographic take on the homogeneity of urban developments. Greyscale and drab, this image appears to lampoon the sameness of Soviet architecture.

An installation of works by the artist Tom Lewis
Installation of works by Christian Boehmer for one of Moniker’s special projects
Installation view of works by Miles Jaffe for Roman Fine Art
Installation view of works by Porkchop for Parlor Gallery

Moniker International Art Fair continues through May 5 at 718 Broadway, NoHo, Manhattan.

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