‘I Don’t Wanna Be, I Am’ group exhibition CHG premiere
I Don’t Wanna Be, I Am is a collective and itinerant exhibition that brings together the work of different artists under one roof. Creators who, despite their distinctive backgrounds and uniquely individual work, share an encompassing creative vision.The exhibition explores the concept of identity within the context of the international art world and is born from the necessity to approach new codes, new spaces, and new interaction methods inside the universe of contemporary creation without hesitation. The show also has a social objective: a percentage of the sales obtained in this exhibition will be used to fund the activities of Coloring the World Foundation, whose mission is to promote a diverse and inclusive society through art and color. I Don’t Wanna Be, I Am debuted in Hamburg, Germany (Sept. ‘21), followed by Miami, Florida (Dec. ’21) and Lisbon, Portugal (Mar. ’22). After exhibiting at CHG, the tour heads to Dubai, UAE this October.
L-R: “Playing to be Gods 3” by Okuda San Miguel, “Fango” by Elian Chali, and “En la planicie todo se ve” by Franco Fasoli
L-R: “S1 – S2 – S3 – S4 – S5 – S6 – S7 – S8” by Marti Sawe, “You’re a Melody II” by Masterpiro, and “Gran sorpresa” by Nano4814
L-R: “Desire” by Sabek, “Conexiones 2” by Sixe Paredes, and “Pershing electrical” by Spok Brillor
I Don’t Wanna Be, I Am opens Saturday, May 14th from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm in the Main Gallery, alongside a solo show from London-based award-winning duoKai & Sunny, entitled Future Seasons, in Gallery 2.
Presents I Don’t Wanna Be, I Am
Touring Group Exhibition Curated by Ink and Movement (IAM)
Featuring Okuda San Miguel, Elian Chali, Franco Fasoli, Martí Sawe, Misterpiro, Nano4814, Sabek, Sixe Paredes, and Spok Brillor
“Modern Family” by Okuda San Miguel
May 14, 2022 | 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
May 14 – June 18, 2022
COREY HELFORD GALLERY
571 S. Anderson St. Los Angeles, CA 90033
Open: Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Visiting Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Downtown Los Angeles’ Corey Helford Gallery (CHG) is proud to announce their next major group show I Don’t Wanna Be, I Am ─ an international touring group exhibition exploring the concept of identity by bringing together a selection of artworks from a roster of artists including world-renowned Spanish painter and sculptor Okuda San Miguel, Argentinian artists Elian Chali and Franco Fasoli, as well as Spanish artists Martí Sawe, Misterpiro, Nano4814,Sabek, Sixe Paredes, and Spok Brillor. Curated by and in partnership with Ink and Movement (IAM), the show opens Saturday, May 14th from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm in the Main Gallery.
For over ten years, Madrid, Spain-based art project Ink and Movement has been promoting a variety of artists and developing cultural initiatives with the main objective being disseminate contemporary art around the world, positioning it closer to the public.
About Okuda San Miguel:
Okuda San Miguel’s unique iconographic language of multicolored geometric structures and patterns–seen on streets, railroads, and abandoned factories around the globe–have made him one of the world’s most recognizable street artists of today. His work can be classified as Pop-Surrealism, with a clear essence of street art or urban art, and often raise contradictions about existentialism, the universe, the infinite, the meaning of life, and the false freedom of capitalism. The artist shares, “Ever since I started painting graffiti, I have always worked with other artists. Collaborations are the norm in this world, and there is a real sense of brotherhood. Working with other artists is like taking my art to other worlds. My work seeks to provoke reflections on issues that affect us all with an optimistic message that invites people to enter a magical world. My art talks about the past and the future, modernity and our roots, and the ability of human beings to transform nature. Color is part of my basic psychology. For me, color represents multiculturalism, different genders, plurality: Flags, races, genders; they’re all there. My use of all the different colors shows that we are, in fact, one. On the other hand, my use of geometry represents modernity, the digital world. The dialogue between the organic/natural, on the one hand, and the future/artificial, on the other, has been constant throughout my career, in contrast to a modern society that has cut off all communication with its spirituality and has failed to respect nature. In doing so, it has sown the seeds of its destruction. Both in the studio and in the street, I try to avoid fixed messages while addressing universal themes. I try to open paths instead of giving closed answers. For me, it’s not the solution that’s important; it’s the path that takes you there. My message is fixed. It’s open to interpretation, both for people who see my work in the street and gallery viewers.”
About Elian Chali:
Elian Chali is a self-taught artist, muralist, and active agent of the Argentine counter-cultural circuit, whose artwork is intended to provoke questions rather than provide answers. The artist shares, “I am interested in the past, a world even before art. I feel a strange magnetism towards cities, not just as a participant of its political strength but also, as an acknowledger of its faculty as the stage of social life. My exposed body reveals how we, humans, behave under life’s complex circumstances. Art allows me to establish different levels of interaction in urban contexts. I am interested in dissociating my practice from standard procedures, interpretational styles, and stereotyped approaches. I am not particularly concerned about having my body of work to work within the margins of what is expected. I prefer the territory of ambivalence.”
Adding, “I have always found fascinating the possibility of putting the visual work in dialogue with poetry or other devices that produce meaning. Not because of a necessity required by the piece, nor because I wanted to subtract autonomy from it, but because I consider the discursive amplification that a title, an image that accompanies or works in conjunction with other pieces can provide. My works reflect that concern itself is not only a linguistic exercise. Instead, what interests me is to put different elements in dialogue with each other to construct a language of my own with the contexts. As in my work in the public space, my studio work focuses on how we can inhabit different social realities, a sensitivity pointing out the new ways of coexistence.”
About Franco Fasoli:
Franco Fasoli (also known as Jaz) is one of the best known and most talented artists on the Argentinian scene, whose work explores materials and scale. From large-format paintings in public spaces to smaller bronze and paper works, his art feeds on the fluctuation of contexts and resources. The tension between the dominant global culture and subcultures as spaces of resistance has also influenced him both at the conceptual level and in his actions throughout his career. The artist shares, “These acrylic collages are part of a process that I have been investigating since 2020, where layers of dry paint become the material to be used for the collages and a continuation of the Confrontation series. The concept of identity influences most of my work, both in murals and medium and small formats. My work explores how individual and collective identities are formed. It questions whether there is such a thing as a stable way of feeling part of a collective or if it is an entity that is continuously mutating and changing and thus in permanent conflict.”
About Martí Sawe:
Marti Sawe (aka “Sawe”) is a Spanish graffiti artist, animator, and illustrator whose tireless work explores the contrast between the technique, control, and discipline he learned from illustration and the irreverence, flow, and inhibition of graffiti. He shares, “From an early age, people always told me I was good at drawing and that it was better to buy me clothes than invite me for dinner. Maybe that’s why I’m always drawing food. I knew my vocation would be related to drawing, and so it was. After studying illustration at art school, I spent more than ten years working as an illustrator, muralist, and, most recently, as an art and animation director. Years of intense work supplied me with many points of reference and influence. The result is an eclectic imaginary that arouses curiosity as it’s digested. However, I eventually reached a point at which I decided to cut back on my work to focus on myself and find my own language in the world of art. I believe this has led me to a state of continuous inquiry, a yearning to seek beyond my comfort zones.”
Adding, “Almost involuntarily, graffiti is present in everything I do. I’ve been doing graffiti for 14 years, and it’s still a big part of my daily life. I’ve built my life, friends, lifestyle in the city, and a feeling of freedom all around this hobby. Although figurative, my work seldom accounts for the reality around us. I’m not interested in capturing the world as my eyes see it. My work can often seem dreamy as I try to listen to my subconscious as freely as possible, influenced by outsider artists such as Martín Ramírez, Bill Taylor, Ataa Oko, and Adolf Wölfli for their intrinsic motivation, their spontaneity, their freedom, and their uninhibited use of materials. My influences also include prominent figures like Picasso and Karel Apple. My subconscious is always joking around, and after a cursory glance, my works reveal themselves to be sprinkled with humor, satire, and irony. I like humor to be subtle, providing the viewer with space for their reading and reflection.”
Misterpiro is a Spanish visual and urban street artist whose work successfully combines these two contrasting techniques into a unique style, full of expression and color, from the warmest reds to the most electric blues. Improvisation is at the heart of his technique, combining the aggressiveness of spray paint and the softness of watercolor on a range of different mediums. The fluidity of the water and atmospheric volatility of aerosols fills his works with expression and light, creating a pictorial universe that straddles the line between the figurative and full-on abstraction.
The artist shares, “My first contact with art was through graffiti when I was 11 years old. I started to create murals in Plasencia, my hometown in Spain, without any artistic knowledge or training. With spray paint in hand, I grew up and learned in the town’s streets, where I was able to experience the urban art movement firsthand that was taking place back in 2005. I also soaked up everything that was happening outside, thanks to magazines and fanzines I found at newsstands or on the Internet. Through these publications, I was able to get to know and learn about the work of great artists that I use as references, such as Suso33, Okuda, and Spok.” He adds, “The creative process begins by creating stains and color gradients impulsively and irrationally; the painting is in control. As I progress through the piece, these abstract forms come to life, and then I begin to work on them, shaping them and treating them as more concrete objects. So, the ethereal images are transformed into something more real and tangible, something that might even exist in a real way. I modify spaces by working with color and light, creating murals full of delicacy in noisy environments and more ornate works in quiet spaces. Letting myself be carried away by chance and impulse, but always taking care of detail and aesthetics. I want my work to generate more than a reflection, a sensation.”
Nano4814 is an elusive Spanish multidisciplinary artist with an outstanding ability to move in a wide chromatic range of saturated colors and textile patterns. His creative output manifests itself in anything and everything: paintings, sculptures, street signs, murals, and tags. The artist shares, “Formally, I work in a wide variety of technics and mediums: painting, sculpture, installation, or muralism. Color plays a big role in all my artworks. In my paintings, we can observe complex dynamic compositions of multiple figurative forms, anthropomorphic although almost abstract. Bodies superimposed or fused, mixed in a precarious balance that we do not know if it is struggle or help, intercourse or rejection. Lately, I have been trying to simplify my pictures, decompose even more the human figure and reduce it to basic parts such as noses, mouths or eyes that reinforce that sense of abstraction and almost dreamlike scenarios, often combined with recurring symbols, ever-present in my work: brick walls, wire fences, and broken wooden barriers. Objects that encourage intrusion and transgression as masks. These barriers suggest and hide a veiled truth, giving clues but avoiding clarifying painted reality. This ambiguity is perhaps the most powerful feature in my works. Also, we can find compressed balloons (on the verge of exploding) and brightly colored sticks (either alone or interacting with each other), often broken into many pieces, which is an allegory of the pictorial act itself and my relationship with art practice.”
He adds, “I render the images in my paintings, always on wood and drawing through masking tape and straight into the surface with an x-acto knife, building the image in layers and leaving many marks in the process. Conscious aggression is essential in the making of the artwork. My work is a reflection of my current self. It ́s my way of navigating through life, feeds my curiosity, and eases the tediousness of everyday—creative habit as a therapy against the norm. I like to think about the artist as an antenna feeding off the environment, trying to catch the ideas out of thin air. My subjects vary and evolve along with my life experiences. Still, many recurrent ideas unconsciously pop up often in my work: imbalance, compositions in a precarious equilibrium, the notion of fragility, pressure, compressed figures among each other or against the edges of the painting, physical barriers, and symbolic ones; ambiguous and decontextualized wordplay.”
Sabek is a Spanish graffiti artist whose unmistakable style is recognized by the representation of silhouettes inspired by nature and animals, particularly noble and powerful animals that provoke a strong sense of respect. His work reflects the human being and his relationship with primal instincts. A particular mixture of subtlety and power in perfect balance in which the shapes and masses of flat colors, used almost as symbols, coexist perfectly with the most delicate details. Animals are represented in a minimalist way that intermingles with plant forms and human representations in an allegory of natural balance and the energies that it channels.
The artist shares, “It was graffiti that first introduced me to the world of art. That freedom and creative energy have stuck with me and continue to inspire my work. My current approach is intimately linked to what I learned during those first years. Studying illustration and graphic design helped hone my skills and has fundamentally influenced my aesthetics and compositions. I learned illustration by studying anatomy and animals, and graphic design has helped shape the visual aesthetic of my work. The relationship I create between the human world and nature is at the heart of my work. My interpretations of animal shapes seek to highlight our connection to other species, something we are losing rapidly.”
Adding, “The representation of animals plays a crucial role in my art, both in large murals and in my studio work. Animals, nature, and my link with them are among the most important things for me. Their representation in silhouettes alludes to the shadow of the role they played in the past and how they are relegated to the background in our present society and way of thinking. I have always been interested in groups of artists and the resonances from which movements emerge. I’m thinking of groups like El Paso, of the Spanish avant-garde. On an individual level, I admire the development of Kandinsky throughout his career, specifically his research and his passage to abstraction. I was born and grew up in Madrid and count myself lucky to have close friendships with leading artists, people whose careers have inspired me and encouraged me to keep going. I began traveling around South America and South-East Asia at an early age. People like Spok Brillor, Okuda San Miguel, Misterpiro, and Felipe Pantone, here in Spain, as well as Kaws and Cleon Peterson, across the Atlantic, but travel has also been one of the most significant influences on my art. The imagination and shapes of the latter were a considerable influence on the way I work. A focus on shape marks my work through the black silhouettes and their attention to detail and composition. I’m looking for a balance between impulse and control and seek to give meaning to my work by stimulating reflection in my viewers.”
About Sixe Paredes:
Sergio Hidalgo Paredes, also known as “SixeArt” and better known as the artist “Six Paredes,” is a Spanish multi-disciplined artist who’s medium of expression includes painting, sculpture, and installation. The artist shares, “All cultures are connected by the most primitive essence that we carry in the deepest part of our being, and from their ancestral interconnection, a new language is born, which only reaffirms all its greatness. I intend to interpret these cultures differently and look at them from a different perspective, one based on respect and admiration. Today my work continues to be inspired by the ancient world but at the same time also in the present, comparing them and transmuting them in imaginary dualities, that exist between the past and the future.”
About Spok Brillor:
Spok Brillor is a renowned Spanish-born illustrator, muralist, and academic painter whose work is appreciated for its originality and authenticity. He creates incredible imaginary fictional characters by combining his lettering projects with robotic and mechanical references and never repeating the same work twice. The artist shares, “My work is the result of a shaken pathway, a polyhedron of multiple edges. All my murals and paintings result from an internal conflict between the urban space and my nostalgia for the back-in-the-day graffiti. I often use figurative language and, at times, use the abstract instead. However, I always aim to maintain fantasy, humor, and irony elements in my work. My pictorial style, a combination of different outlines, shines, lights and shadows, saturated and vibrant colors, originated from my exposure and love for graffiti painting in the early ’90s. I try to create different atmospheres filled with mirages and other elements that have lost relevance.”
Adding, “A few years ago, my paintings escaped the traditional canvas and landed on other kinds of mediums such as wood or methacrylate, on which I play with several paints and neon lights. Since all graffiti writers display their tags around the city, I try to recover some of their neon elements from abandoned premises and incorporate them in my work, combining them with geometrical figures, overhanging layouts, and other elements, which result in a microcosm of these elements. It’s an exchange between the urban space and the city’s history, which can be seen through the changes in commerce and the changes in the people. I constantly try to be in action, explore different languages and techniques, and without letting the usual canons freeze the growth of my art by repeating the same styles and not putting a full stop to my dreams, art curriculum, and personal development.”
About Corey Helford Gallery:
Established in 2006 by Jan Corey Helford and her husband, television producer/creator Bruce Helford (The Conners, Anger Management, The Drew Carey Show, and George Lopez), Corey Helford Gallery (CHG) has since evolved into one of the premier galleries of New Contemporary art. Its goal as an institution is supporting the growth of artists, from the young and emerging, to the well-known and internationally established. CHG represents a diverse collection of international artists, primarily influenced by today’s pop culture and collectively encompassing style genres such as New Figurative Art, Pop Surrealism, Neo Pop, Graffiti, and Street Art. Located in downtown Los Angeles at 571 S. Anderson St. Los Angeles, CA 90033, in a robust 12,000 square foot building, CHG presents new exhibitions approximately every six weeks. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm, with visiting hours being Thursday through Saturday from 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm. For more info and an upcoming exhibition schedule, visit CoreyHelfordGallery.com and follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. For available prints from CHG, visit CHGPrints.com.
We would like to thank Jacob Mask, Chummy Press for the artist profile and press release.