The street and studio artist Retna, born Marquis Lewis, picked his moniker from the lyrics of a Wu-Tang song that resonated with him in his youth. Retna explains that he was inspired to pursue art after seeing graffiti on the freeway, and his practice now includes street art and painting on canvas. Retna has become known for his long and geometric script, which he developed while looking towards Egyptian and Native American traditional symbols. Though his marks resemble the calligraphy of multiple cultures (and he maintains that he composes his works in English and Spanish), the writing does not belong to a particular language. Retna explains, “I want my text to feel universal. I want people from different cultures to all find some similarity in it—whether they can read it or not.”
Richard Hambleton was a contemporary American-Canadian graffiti artist, Often referred to as the “godfather of street art.” Along with his contemporaries Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hambleton painted directly on the streets of New York and achieved success during the art boom of the 1980s. Born in June of 1954 in Vancouver, Canada, he was best known for his Image Mass Murder series, wherein he painted chalk outlines around volunteer “victims” splashed red paint, thereby leaving fictional and violent crime scenes behind in over 15 cities. As time passed, Hambleton gradually transitioned to work in the studio, producing a body of work he titled the Beautiful Paintings. “I’ve been doing public art for a long time, and studio work, and there’s a relationship between the two of them,” he remarked of the shift in his practice. A reclusive artist, Hambleton lived and worked in New York City’s Lower East Side until his death on October 29, 2017.
A poet, musician, and graffiti prodigy in late-1970s New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat had honed his signature painting style of obsessive scribbling, elusive symbols and diagrams, and mask-and-skull imagery by the time he was 20. “I don’t think about art while I work,” he once said. “I think about life.” Basquiat drew his subjects from his own Caribbean heritage—his father was Haitian and his mother of Puerto Rican descent—and a convergence of African-American, African, and Aztec cultural histories with Classical themes and contemporary heroes like athletes and musicians. Often associated with Neo-expressionism, Basquiat received massive acclaim in only a few short years, showing alongside artists like Julian Schnabel, David Salle, and Francesco Clemente. In 1983, he met Andy Warhol, who would come to be a mentor and idol. The two collaborated on a series of paintings before Warhol’s death in 1987, followed by Basquiat’s own untimely passing a year later.
Bridging the gap between the art world and the street, Keith Haring rose to prominence in the early 1980s with his graffiti drawings made in the subways and on the sidewalks of New York City. Combining the appeal of cartoons with the raw energy of Art Brut artists like Jean DuBuffet, Haring developed a distinct pop-graffiti aesthetic centred on fluid, bold outlines against a dense, rhythmic overspread of imagery like that of babies, barking dogs, flying saucers, hearts, and Mickey Mouse. In his subway drawings and murals, Haring explored themes of exploitation, subjugation, drug abuse, and raising fears of nuclear holocaust, which became increasingly apocalyptic after his AIDS diagnosis. Alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, and Jenny Holzer, Haring is regarded as a leading figure in New York East Village Art scene in the 1970s and '80s.
Eve De Haan is a London based artist. Having left university with a degree in Theology, Eve has spent time creating; she has written, illustrated and self-published a children's book, taken on interior design projects, and produced a collection of artwork using neon lights.
Her love of the written word has given her a leaning towards words in her art, she delves into the world of expression and of nuance. Eve finds neon as a medium to be perfect to accentuate how there are gradients and shades of meaning within a statement. She believes light truly does add shade to the meaning of a statement.
Her latest body of work has been reflective of the imposing nature of technology on youth culture within society today.
Coming of age in the Bronx in the 1960s and ’70s, John “Crash” Matos first picked up a can of spray paint at the age of 13 to cut his teeth as a graffiti artist by “bombing” the subway trains in the New York City rail yards. He has not stopped since. His bold, blocky signature—CRASH—greeted subway riders in the 1970s and ’80s, New York’s economically dire, artistically fertile days. By the 1980s, with the embrace of his work by galleries and at the urging of his friend and contemporary, Keith Haring, Crash was translating his explosive outdoor murals to the canvas’s more contained plane. He remains busy with commissions and collaborations, claiming that his future holds “more work, more painting, more strats, more walls, more lobsters, more steaks…in other words more living to do.”
Growing up, Ellis admired the gritty New York scene with unbridled passion. He recalls “There was a moment when I saw a train pulling into a station with cartoon characters from Mad Magazine on it and that’s when I knew I had to be part of the scene.” After this introduction he took to spray painting, “I didn’t know if it was art” he reminisces “but I knew it was creative”. Daze moved through the streets with immense curiosity, covering the concrete canvases about him. Through his Art & Design high school he met other talented creatives and began collaborating with them for the next decade. He took to the streets armed with a spray paint can in hand, scaling buildings, dodging the police and illuminating every unadorned wall and space that appealed to him. He named these his “outlaw installations”.
Chris Daze Ellis began his prolific career painting the gritty New York subways in the mid 70's while attending the High School of Art & Design. He is one of the few artists from that period to make the successful transition from the subways to the studio. His first group show was the “Beyond Words” show held at the Mudd Club in New York in 1981. Showing alongside artists such as Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, Daze sold his first work, an impromptu collaboration with Basquiat, from this show.
His first solo show was held a year later in 1982 at Fashion Moda, a gallery in the Bronx. Since then he has had countless solo shows in such cities as Monte Carlo, Hong Kong, Paris, New York, Beijing, Chicago, and Singapore. His work has also been included in numerous group shows and museum surveys internationally.Alongside these museum and gallery exhibitions
Daze has also completed many public art projects over the years. Some of them include completing a mural for the Star ferry terminal in Hong Kong, lectures at Hofstra University and the Bronx Museum, completing the design of an entire train station in Hannover, Germany alongside fellow artists Lee Quinones and Crash, youth workshops with kids during the Hutuz festival in Rio de Janeiro, and completing a mural for the Vivo City shopping center in Singapore. Daze's paintings have found themselves in the private collections of Madonna, and Eric Clapton among others.
His work can be found in the permanent collections of such museums as The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, The Groninger Museum in the Netherlands and The Ludwig Museum in Aachen, Germany. Daze continues to live and work in New York City.
Schoony is a multi-talented urban artist whose unique aesthetic and technical brilliance has brought the art world by storm. His Hyperrealist sculptures question war, mortality and contemporary society. Schoony’s background is rooted in special effects and prosthetics for the film industry, with his career spanning over twenty-five years. Since the age of fifteen he has worked on over a hundred films, his work and reputation for high-class pioneering techniques has reached the far corners of the world. He took the plunge into a new career as an artist to share his passion for life cast sculpture. Schoony exploded onto the London art scene in 2008 at Mutate Britain’s “One Foot Under the Grove”, one of the most pioneering street art exhibitions to date. Schoony’s career has gone from strength to strength, exhibiting widely throughout Europe and the US; he has permanent representation from the Guy Hepner Gallery in NY and the Unit Gallery London. His work has won him critical acclaim from the Times, The Independent and ArtNet News
California-based Sage Vaughn—a self-described “gun nut” who approaches art making with a hard-working, blue-collar mentality—is interested in illustrating the complex co-existence of nature and technology. In his “Wildlife” series, Vaughn depicted birds in trees against technological backgrounds, while in “Wildlives,” children in play battle armor prepare for an imaginary war. Determined to make popular art that everyone can grasp on a basic level, Vaughn depicts scenes from everyday life that suggest deeper, more profound narrative content.
The living legend of the graffiti movement, illustrator, photographer, sculptor, fashion and graphic designer from New York City, Futura – also known as Futura 2000 – is one of the major players on the current international urban art scene. The contemporary of SAMO, Keith Haring, Richard Hambleton, Cope2 and many other iconic NY writers, Futura helped define the graffiti movement of the early 1970s by moving it away from lettering and towards the more painterly, abstract style. This highly influential and multi-faceted artist has, to date, remained unique, fresh, and evolving, and his characteristic style has paved the way for a whole new generation of high-profile urban artists.