Four prolific graffiti writers, MQ (U.S.), HORFEE (France), WANTO and ROUSOKU (Japan), team up for “Graffiti,” a group-exhibition-slash-art-project at Gallery Naruyama. In an unconventional move, the gallery offered the artists to tag gallery walls prior to mounting artworks, symbolically marking their advance into new territory—fine art.
Despite the fact graffiti has long been utilized by contemporary artists, few breakthroughs aside, the medium remains largely neglected by art establishment. The core of the problem lies in its anarchistic nature—the moment graffiti is taken from its natural habitat, the street, to a commercial gallery space, writers' street cred is instantly sabotaged. Stripped off the basics—anonymity and unrestraint—those who manage to cross over rely heavily on their visual style, by itself often insufficient to gain any respect in art circles either. A good enough reason for many not to make the move, or, like the artists in the show, do it on their own terms. True to an unwritten graffiti code, they choose living off the grid instead of a full time artistic career and relative financial stability—an almost naive stubbornness by modern standards. Or, as the veteran bomber, MQ, puts it: “A possession.” Through March 7th.