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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Moniker International Art Fair continues through May 5 at 718 Broadway, NoHo, Manhattan.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.