OUT OF EXILE: NYC STREET ART PIONEERS

July 14 – August 13, 2016

The Curator Gallery is excited to present Out of Exile, a group show of recent works by legendary street artists Ken Hiratsuka, MARKY, and Peter Missing. These early pioneers were instrumental in paving the way for many of today’s more popularized street artists and have mostly worked outside of the public realm for decades to date. Out of Exile is an opportunity to highlight their newer work and recognize their importance to this vibrant artistic genre that is integral to the cultural landscape of New York City.

Ken Hiratsuka

In 1982, at age 23, Ken Hiratsuka immigrated to New York City from Japan. Drawn by the creative freedom that flourished in the city during those times, he set to work. While most other street artists at that time spray-painted graffiti on building walls and subway cars, Ken found his perfect canvas in the rare granite and bluestone sidewalk slabs scattered throughout the boroughs. In the middle of the night, Ken would carve this sidewalk stone using only a hand chisel and lump hammer. No other artist is known to have a comparable procedure. In all, he carved nearly forty sidewalks throughout the 1980’s. Ken received many warnings from the police to cease and desist and was eventually caught in the act and arrested. When he appeared before the judge, he stated, “My work is conceptual, minimal, public art.” The smiling judge dismissed the case on the spot.

In 2008, Ken was commissioned by Goldman Properties at 25 Bond Street, NYC to create permanent installations River (100’x 16’ carved granite sidewalk) and Nike (7’ tall standing granite.) In natural stone, Ken found a communication apparatus whose frequency is the permanence of the universe. Expressing this concept is Ken’s use of a single unbroken line in all of his work. Ken’s early spiral sidewalk carvings have gradually expanded to petroglyphs carved on boulders in natural environments as well as large-scale public and private commissions around the world, all aiming to create a model of universal language on the surface of the earth, as one huge rock. He has carved stones in 22 countries including Mongolia, India, Japan, Kenya and Italy among others. His dream is to carve a stone in every country to create the sense of one continuous line across the face of the earth.

Ken Hiratsuka was one of the founding members of The Rivington School, an underground art movement that emerged in The East Village in 1983. Many Rivington School artists were metal sculptors, performance artists or street painters. The movement was noted for public sculpture installations on the Lower East Side. 

MARKY

In the early 1990’s large scale street paintings of a cryptic face began appearing throughout the neighborhoods of SoHo and Greenwich Village. Painted inconspicuously in the night, the faces were the handiwork of MARKY, often accompanied by the street paintings of his cohorts REVS and COST.

The frozen faces of MARKY recall a primitivism embodied in tribal masks, or perhaps imply a jaded detachment of the self. MARKY’s contemporary works of mixed media on canvas are assembled from various found objects, ranging from plastic toys to bullet casings. The nature of these juxtaposed objects creates contradictory relationships within their given context, perhaps revealing paradoxes of the inner self. The face is the most fundamental symbol of humanity, yet it is MARKY’s recycled materials that give a unique identity to each of his works. The collaged miscellanea can also be seen as kitsch materialism driven by conspicuous consumption, uniquely American.

Peter Missing

Peter Missing is the originator of the infamous "Party's Over” symbol, depicting an upside down martini glass atop three strikes crossed out. Between 1980 and 1993, the symbol was ubiquitously spray painted around Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The “Party’s Over” logo served as a warning to developers to stay out of the neighborhood or face violent consequences. The symbol was central to the squatter movement and had been associated with anti-gentrification, anti-police brutality and pro-environment sentiments. Over the decades, it has evolved into a symbol warning of the decline of the planet, while prophesizing the “Party’s Over” for Western Civilization.

Peter Missing’s recent paintings evoke a dynamism derived from his early graffiti career in the Bronx and Lower East Side, executed in a vibrant spectrum of color through a strong line. The subject matter of his canvases run the gamut, inspired by his ongoing wanderings: astreet musician in Cork City, a Parisian cityscape, the portrait of friend in Denmark. Peter has been painting for over 40 years and has works in museums including The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Getty Institute and The Stadt Museum. Peter’s work is included in the 1989 collaborative portfolio Your House is Mine by Bullet Space NYC, which is held in both the collections of the New York Public Library and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. His work is featured in Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art by Carlo McCormick.

Documentary photography by Toyo Tsuchiya is also included in the exhibition. A founder of The Rivington School, Toyo’s photography captures the early street art movement.

The title of the exhibition, Out of Exile, is a reference to the final album of Peter Missing’s performance art group, Missing Foundation, called GO INTO EXILE. It was produced in 1992, shortly before Peter abandoned the Lower East Side for East Berlin due to rising rent costs and persistent investigation by the police and FBI for his role in sparking civil disobedience through his art. In fact, all three of these artists were eventually driven out of New York City due to high living costs and have mostly worked outside of sanctioned institutions for decades to date. Out of Exile is an opportunity to highlight their newer work and recognize their importance to this vibrant artistic genre that is integral to the cultural landscape of New York City.

The Curator Gallery is a fine art gallery in Chelsea founded and underwritten by Ann S. Moore, the retired Chairman and CEO of Time Inc. The gallery’s mission is to give exposure to hardworking artists, as well as educate and expand the pool of serious, engaged collectors. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 to 6.

For more information, please contact Kris Connell at 212-243-1806 or kris@thecuratorgallery.com