‘Fear No Art 4’ Exposes New Audience To Street Art
Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
It used to be the case that street art’s one and only place was on the street. A symbol of audacious rebellion, independent expression, and autonomous thought, street art has always been fearlessly provocative. Lately, however, such art has begun to gradually break down such confining walls—the very brick, plaster, and concrete walls on which it used to display itself—and instead, as a genre, is pushing into the sphere of “accepted art,” exposing itself in groundbreaking exhibits such as those at The Fourth Wall Project in Boston.
A channel for innovative, contemporary artists, Fourth Wall was established in 2009 by the Bodega Crew. The gallery, consisting of about 3,000 square feet, used to be just a vacant and static commercial space—now, though, it’s a rough, raw outlet for urban art and public projects. It showcases the art of the streets—the vivid, spray paint graffiti, the distinctive, recycled sculptures, and the imposing, collaged billboards—and it does so without compromising the essential and vital personality of the pieces. Unique in and of itself, Fourth Wall is just as much a hidden and sometimes misunderstood treasure as the art that it houses.
Fourth Wall is fluid and progressive, consistently adopting new exhibits, the latest being Fear No Art 4, which opened this past Saturday evening. Like other shows at Fourth Wall, Fear No Art 4’s goal is to bring underground art forms to a larger audience, exposing viewers to pieces that challenge the traditional conception of art. Many of the works included display a level of thoughtful and deliberate depth, indicating that a new generation of street artists is emerging.
Curated by Marka27, whose pieces can be seen in the exhibit, Fear No Art 4 presents a total of 16 artists, some of whom are infamously well known, and others who are quickly up-and-coming. Though it certainly is not the first exhibition to display street art, it is indeed the first to feature such a range of artists from both the East and West Coast. Promising graffiti artists, renowned graphic designers, and inimitable pop-surrealist painters like Slick, TooFly, Cern One, and Pac 23, come together in Fourth Wall’s latest project, representing and fusing, at the same time, their own cultures, beliefs, and identities. The result is stylistically revolutionary, ideologically complex, and visually authoritative.
Brilliant, blurred, and bold, Cern One’s Hit From the Back is a prime example of the creative multiplicity found at Fourth Wall. Made from a variety of medias, the piece depicts a pile of crushed cars and trucks on a 48x48 canvas. Distorted red and gold lines complicate the image and fill the background, producing a piece of fierce immediacy. Crimewave (A&B) by Pac 23 utilizes colors in a similar way, but it relies more on stark contrasts and inversions than the other piece does. Working predominately with cherry red, ebony black, and bright white, Pac 23’s acrylic painting portrays two opposing female faces, and though the side profiles are definitely similar, the colors between the two are blatantly transposed. The effect is one that causes the viewer to question not only the similarities and differences in art, but also the conceptual relevance of such observations in humanity itself.
Although these former pieces are innocent enough, Fear No Art 4 is comprised of some significantly more startling, lewd pieces, granting it an undisputable, authentic sense of street credit. Simone Legno’s Love Bubbles, for example, is a painting of the back of a nearly nude, anime-esque young woman on the floor of what looks like a high-rise penthouse. The cityscape backdrop is painted in pink and peach hues, with smiley faces and hearts scattered throughout the image, and the woman’s bare figure even resembles the shape of a heart, thematically merging the notions of love and lust.
Not nearly as racy as Legno’s piece, but definitely more shocking, Vibora Si, Vibora No by Raul Gonzalez is a painting with a neutral palette, depicting a snake ingesting a live person—the only visible aspect of him, though, is his head in the ravenous serpent’s fanged mouth. The fear in the man’s eyes and the hunger in the snake’s practically leap off the canvas, as the identities of the two subjects merge and monstrously become one.
Clearly, from the descriptions above, there are obvious differences amongst the works in Fear No Art 4. The pieces together, however, insistently challenge viewers to question the very foundations of art—to break down walls and to see things in a newly constructed perspective.