“Calligraffiti: 1984-2013,” an upcoming show at the Leila Heller Gallery in Chelsea opening Sept. 5
It will explore the relationship between graffiti and calligraphy with the work of nearly 50 artists, from
Jackson Pollock and Jean-Michel Basquiat to Keith Haring and his protégé “LA II” (as Angel Ortiz is known).
Many of the artists are Middle Eastern, including Shirin Neshat and Hossein Zenderoudi, and several are
street artists, like the French-Tunisian star eL Seed.
Catalogue : Download PDF
JULIEN “KAALAM” BRETON
KEITH HARING AND LA2
LA2 (ANGEL ORTIZ)
NIELS “SHOE” MEULMAN
NASSER AL SALEM
CHARLES HOSSEIN ZENDEROUDI
“Untitled” (2013), by eL Seed, is one of the works that will be on display in “Calligraffiti: 1984-2013.”
COURTESY OUAHID BERREHOUMA / ITINERRANCE GALLERY
The New Calligraffiti
The mission of the first Calligraffiti exhibition in 1984 was to present New York street art in a wider cultural and art historical context. It was fascinating to show the links between Middle Eastern calligraphic art and New York graffiti tags. It was also interesting to pair the younger graffiti artists with masters like Dubuffet and Twombly, who were inspired by the art of the streets. Thirty years later, innovations in street art are coming not just from New York, but from around the world. Some of the most important and influential new graffiti art is emerging from the Middle East and North Africa. Graffiti has become an important part of the imagery that has defined the Arab Spring. It is very timely to present a new version of Calligraffiti that celebrates the continuing influence of the pioneers of New York Wild Style graffiti and the emergence of important new artists like the French Tunisian star, eL Seed. New communications platforms like Instagram and YouTube have given street art a new resonance. Thirty years ago, the New York graffiti artists used the subway trains to communicate. A graffiti tag thrown up on a subway car in the Bronx would circulate all over the city, but it took time to spread the word beyond New York through the small number of books and films that documented the art form. Today, many of the best street artists are followed by friends who photograph and video their work and post their images seconds after the art is completed. Graffiti on a street in Cairo can be instantly communicated around the world. It is fascinating to watch how a renegade art form has become a central part of today’s political and cultural conversation.