Monday, November 4, 2013
Street Art -- Lost Values
This mural seems to capture everything that is wrong with street art and its lost values.
At face value, this is a mural painted by Kai Aspire. The piece is entitled 'Lost Values', and it is re-assigning Louis Vuitton's 'LV' to mean 'Lost Values'.
At face value, it is pretty weak. The art is lame. The message doesn't say anything. And why any street art piece would be talking about 'lost values' in the uber-rich fashion world is a stretch to say the least. Louis Vuitton and street art? What do they have in common? Nothing but lost values and poor artists.
But even though it wasn't intended, this piece works perfectly on a deeper level. Like we say in the opening sentence, this mural seems to capture everything that is wrong with street art and its lost values.
Kai Aspire is not just another street artist. Kai was born with a silver paint brush in his hand. Kai is the nephew of Mr. Brainwash, and Kai's father owns this wall where the mural was painted. In fact, years ago, this wall used to be organic street art. Meaning that art just used to pop up on this wall on its own. Then, 3 years ago, the Guetta family started curating this wall. The best part is that the art did keep changing with constantly rotating murals, but the worst part is that the move transitioned this wall from 'street art' to 'public art'. Strike one.
Strike 2 is the focus of the content itself. Like we say, street art and fine fashion have nothing in common. And any street artist thinks that fashion empires like 'Louis Vuitton' demonstrate 'lost values', well, then the artist is the one with the lost values. Like here. Street art should pack a message worthy of the streets. Not just this piece, but street art in Los Angeles in general seems to be failing to spread a worthy message.
Strike 3 is to pretend to be something you're not. And since Warhol, their has been a movement in the art world that says a factory is okay--the factory concept is the idea that the artist does not have to paint every stroke, someone else can do the work and yet the art is still considered an original. Okay, fine. We understand the factory concept. But what Kai is doing seems beyond the scope of Warhol's factory. You see, Kai paints murals like this one, and the one pictured below. Actually, the one pictured below provides the perfect example of what Kai did and didn't do. Kai did paint his name on the right. You can see from the thick brush strokes and uncontrolled drips how Kai literally has no skill with the brush. And now, compare that to the image next to Kai's signature. It is a masterfully blended image of Kanye West dressed up in medieval clothing. The art skill is seriously stunning, but it is clear that the image was not painted by Kai. The image on the wall was actually wheat pasted, but it is an enlarged image of a painting that Kai attempted to sell at a previous art show, as his own work. What!? A lot of folks in the community were outraged at Kai's first show because he did not paint the art that he was selling. Forget the factory concept, when did it become anything other than fraud to pretend something you didn't make, is yours? Talk about lost values . . .
Okay. So this mural has technically already struck out. But there are still more egregious things wrong with it. Basically, and 'technically' this entire mural is not even 'art'. This is an advertisement. In fact, if you were to take this mural and shrink it down into postcard size, then this would be a flyer for Kai's show. It is not art because the information on the flyer tells the viewer where to buy what the artist is selling. The viewer is not allowed to interpret the image or message, when it is done this way the viewer is instructed where to 'shop'. Like we say, this is not art, this is a painted advertisement. For an art show with paintings that the artist did not paint focusing on issues that are irrelevant to life and the streets.
Finally, the only time Kai does anything on the streets is right before he is about to have an art show. As M&F has said before, the streets are not a platform to a gallery. The streets are the real prize. And if you only put up a handful of street pieces in order to hype a gallery show, well, that is not really a street artist. Don't know exactly where to draw the line, but that is not a street artist at all. That's someone trying to use the streets for advertisements. Not street art, an insult to the streets.
Street art needs to dump some baggage, get back into touch with what its about, and remedy these 'lost values'.
Stay up, Los Angeles!