Shepard Fairey. Your Eyes Here
Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga
Calle Alemania, S/N, 29001 Málaga, Spain
The Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga is presenting the first solo exhibition in a Spanish museum on the artist Shepard Fairey. Your Eyes Here, curated by Fernando Francés, includes more than 300 works by this US artist born in Charleston, South Carolina. The works in the exhibition offer a survey of Fairey’s career, which spans twenty-five years to date, and includes paintings, silkscreens, stencils, stickers, illustrations, collage, photographs, sculptures and works in wood and metal. Fairey is known for using a highly defined range of colours based on black, red and white and inspired by Russian propaganda posters, as well as for his ironic critique of present-day issues. His works are influenced by fields such as music, the environment and politics. Shepard Fairey lives and works in Los Angeles.
Shephard Fairey began to become known in the 1990s when he produced some of his most celebrated works, such as the sticker Andre the Giant Has a Posse (1989), depicting a famous wrestler and which the artist subsequently transformed into the world-wide OBEY GIANT campaign, or the portrait of Obama entitled Hope (2008), which was created to support his candidature for the elections. The present exhibition at the CAC Málaga presents a survey of the artist’s output which ranges from his early work to his most recent.
Since the 1990s, Shepard Fairey has been considered one of the cult artists within the American underground scene. He refers to himself as a “populist” due to the way he breaks the rules of the contemporary art world and of street art with his graphic style and message. For Fernando Francés, Director of the CAC Málaga: “Fairey has a revolutionary, committed approach that has maintained up to the present day through the recurring messages of social and political critique in his works, which is what makes them so distinctive. The artist is also influenced by popular culture, graphic design and commercial marketing and political lobbying. His works possess an aesthetic similar to political poster design of the mid-20th century and have a highly recognisable due to the mixture of carefully graduated tones, with an emphasis on reds. His reference points and aesthetic and conceptual influences are wide-ranging and include Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Barbara Kruger, Soviet propaganda, street art, images of Americana, 1960s psychedelic rock posters, The Sex Pistols, Bob Marley, The Clash, Angela Davies and Jesse Jackson. Street art has recently acquired enormous importance and is, if anything, more popular than ever.”
Your Eyes Here includes more than 300 works by this American artist, who is exhibiting for the first time in a solo exhibition in a Spanish museum. This retrospective offers a survey of 25 years of Fairey’s career, reflecting and exploring the most varied sides of this artist, whose works are based on the appropriation of images and texts which he reinterprets in an ambiguous, ironic manner. Through the use of reverse psychology, viewers are encouraged to analyse and discover the meaning of works in a way that goes beyond the surface.
The sticker was the medium through which Fairey assimilated the subcultures in which he had grown up, including skateboarding, Punk and hip-hop, with their parodies of corporate logos created through the modification of names and graphic elements.
The works in this exhibition are organised in the CAC central gallery to reflect the different themes within Fairey’s work, including music, politics, and examples of his earliest output, as well as the stencils that he used on the street when he first started.
Your Eyes Here includes early works such as AG Soda (1994) and First Screen Print (1989). Subjects related to the environment include Americas Favourite (2013) and Gas Mask (2001), while musical references are involved in Bob Marley Slave Driver (2015), Joey Ramone (2005) and OBEY Pistols Subvert (2001). Politics in the form of references to both war and peace appears in Lenin Stamp Poster(2000) and Revolution Woman (2005), while editions include Love is the Drug (Red) (2012) and Zapata(1999).
OBEY is a challenge that the artist has formulated in relation to his own daily conformance and his relationship with institutional and commercial propaganda.
Shepard Fairey was born and grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. He graduated in Fine Arts, specialising in illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. He is the artist concealed behind OBEY GIANT and his works have transformed contemporary viewers’ way of seeing art and the landscape. Fairey’s work has become a catchword in art, for example his portrait of Obama entitled Hope (2008), which is now in the Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. In addition to his urban guerrilla actions, Fairey has also produced more than 50 large-scale murals.
Among solo exhibitions devoted to this artist are those held at Sound & Vision, Stolen Space Gallery, London (2012); Your Ad Here, at the V1 Gallery, Copenhagen (2011); Supply and Demand: 20 Years Survey, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2010); Imperfect Union, Merry Karnowsky Gallery, Los Angeles (2007); Shepard Fairey/ OBEY, Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris (2006); Visual Disobedience, OX-OP Gallery, Minneapolis (2005). The artist has also participated in numerous collective exhibitions such as Art in the Streets, MOCA, Los Angeles (2011), Nike Stages Livestrong Exhibition, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris (2009); Regime Change Starts at Home, Irvine Contemporary, Washington (2008). Shepard Fairey lives and works in Los Angeles.