DISSIDENTS, Group Show opening April 12th


The ongoing economic crisis and the rise of all kinds of populism in Europe demonstrate a dangerous backlash in 21st century history; meanwhile extreme industrialization, mass production & over consumption has led global warming to break all records. Quarrels over diminishing but vital natural resources and shrinking living space may well be the cause of future conflicts. However fucked up the situation our world is facing right now, there is still hope. To keep faith, we need to remember people’s abilities to protest and to resist. Protest is when I say this does not please me. Resistance is when I ensure what does not please me occurs no more. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement, the eastern and western worlds have both lately shown the capability to fight against establishment. Protest always starts in the streets, and so often does art. The street is a mixture of languages and a hotchpotch of voices, where the pictograms of road signs and the surreal messages written by street artists live side by side, and where the simple commercial communication runs up against the political. To the careful observer the street makes visible the underlying noise of our society.

By acknowledging the social and political unrest of our time, OPEN WALLS Gallery cordially invites you as we debut DISSIDENTS, a group show. A dissident, broadly defined, is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution. Using the urban landscape as a playground, seeking truth and raising awareness, the artists that we have chosen for this show strive for non-conformity and create work representative of both political and social opposition, making them pioneers of dissident activity.

Join us on Friday April 12th in Stattbad Berlin as we contribute to the social strife of 2013 with works by:

BR1 - By ripping off advertisements from billboards or giving a new face to Muslim women BR1 is fighting the hegemonic policing of sense imposed by late capitalism . The point is to fight hegemonic ideas and to give back the public space to the public. His aim is to give social and cultural functions to billboards which, while lacking those, are imposed to society. Portraying veiled woman in their daily life, BR1 challenges the ideological isolation of the veil.

JUST – Just’s photographic work is a journey. He studied photography in Scotland where he also worked as a picture framer while taking photos of the punk- and squatter scenes that he was part of. One scene led to another, and Just then went on to focus on the graffiti and street art cultures. American photojournalist, Martha Cooper has it: “Just’s breathtaking photos are dramatic documents of daring graffiti artists in action. Through them you can vicariously experience the danger and thrills of rooftop writing.”

ALIAS - Rather than directly dealing with war or politics, Alias is focusing on how individuals are personally affected by their environment. It is like zooming on individuals and seeing things on their scale; zooming in on children in particular and observing how they experience that world and context they live in. There is a lot of compassion in Alias’ work as he delicately infiltrates the urban environment to reveal the existence of loneliness and personal crisis behind a larger catastrophe.

EMESS - Confronting the viewer with issues that would rather be swept under the rug, Emess’ work is most often motivated by political questions, for which there are perhaps no clear answers or solutions but that need to be addressed. The use of humor and his sense of aesthetics catch the viewer off guard for a moment allowing attention to be drawn to the subject. Emess sees no difference between the street or the gallery space, his work is designed to reach an audience and adapts itself to the situation.

VERMIBUS – Berlin based artist Vermibus regularly collects advertising posters from the streets, using them in his studio as the base material for his work. There, a process of transformation begins. Using solvent, he brushes away the faces and flesh of the models appearing in the posters as well as brand logos. Once the transformation is complete, he then reintroduces the adverts back into their original context, hijacking the publicity, and its purpose.

GIACOMO SPAZIO - Pioneer of the Italian Street Art movement, Spazio’s iconography is borrowed from fanzines of the 1970s and 1980s, from punk graphics and the album covers of those years, from documents of the underground scene and artistic-musical performances, from photos taken from publications, magazines, and daily newspapers. The mind immediately races to the silk screens of Andy Warhol and Pop Art, but it is only a superficial evocation because Spazio goes well beyond, making his own the practice of incursion and theft typical of the punk who uses information and images from the media and propose them with an ironic and desecrating, cynical and subversive intention.

NEGATIVE VIBES – Self made, street taught, Negative Vibes delivers a great deal of gravity through his existentialist and symbolic imagery.

Exhibition on display: Saturday April 13th - Saturday May 11th
Opening hours: Thursdays to Saturdays, from 15:00 to 20:00
Press & Private View: by invitation only, Friday April 12th
Vernissage: Friday April 12th from 20:00 onwards
Admission: €5 Free for Gallery members & clients

“At this very moment of our history I don’t think there is actually nobody able to claim with certainty what art is or what it could be, and yet which direction is taking. The only thing we know for sure is that in this new millennium, art is assuming any kind of shape but from now on it will never be an exclusive privilege of few elite people.” 
Giacomo Spazio.

Subterranean Modern – from Punk to Urban Art - is the first attempt to show a cultural and aesthetic path of the Italian art through a thirty year lapse of time. 
The protagonists of this multicoloured world have steadily and strongly claimed their peculiar artistic vision which is light years far from the stylistic canons taught at the academies of our peninsula and commonly accepted among the official Italian art circuits. A type of art that very often has found little room even in galleries and despite this, has succeeded to survive, get developed and get evolved. 
Subterranean Modern includes fifty Italian artists among painters, sculptors, photographers and illustrators, each of them diverse for style, media used and sign, but connected to each other by a mutual expressive orientation and in some cases, an independent flippant concept of art. The artists called for the show, are strongly related to pop culture, and, at the same time, they got a lively interest in both national and international subcultures, a flamboyant D.I.Y. approach (Do It Yourself), and a stylistic genius, sometimes classic, sometimes deviant or provocative. Many of them have done, do and will keep on doing some illegal acts, gestures of endless beauty. 
Despite the academic background for the most, their work is clearly influenced by comics, spray paint, science fiction, architecture, anime art, cartoons and of course by music, could it be punk, reggae, new wave, jazz or hip hop… 
These cool guys share the rejection for any kind of compromise or shortcut in the name of success. All of them have developed their own independent ideas apart from fashion trends and marketing rules so causing a gap with the officially recognized art circuit which too many times does not even consider their potential as artists ignoring the fact that they attract more and more people between admirers and collectors to the exhibitions. 
“Subterranean Modern” proposes to cast a glance, free from prejudice, at the national artistic panorama, putting in evidence both the work of every single artist and the connection to each others’ work through the cultural context in which they have been moving along the years, always being aware that it is impossible to put them all together under a single name or a unique artistic stream. 
Subterranean Modern – from Punk to Urban Art – a not exhaustive path inside the meanders of the Italian contemporary art through the work of fifty artists, an idea by Giacomo Spazio, where music, pop culture and an aesthetic diffused illegality of the “do it yourself” offer the vision of a unique but multi stratified reality. 


STROKE Urban Art Fair returns in Berlin from Sept. 13th to Sept. 16th. OPEN WALLS will present its complete gallery program, feat. new and exclusive artworks from YZ, BR1, SP38, ALIAS, VERMIBUS, CHOW MARTIN & GIACOMO SPAZIO. We also have a special guest: MIMI THE CLOWN.

Within the last three years, more than 60,000 visitors came to STROKE to see artists and galleries from all over the world (Poland, Brazil, Austria, USA, Italy, France, Chile, Spain, Switzerland or the UK - just to name a few). Urban Art is now! For the first time in human history, the majority of the earth’s population is living in urban residential areas. The urban environment and the corresponding lifestyle can be counted amongst the fundamental sources of inspiration for contemporary culture. The historical revolution of visual forms of expression, in which the designs of the everyday streetscape, with its tags, graffiti, street art, advertising or graphic design found their sustenance, define the progression of contemporary art. The urban environment as the literal and metaphorical platform for this development inspires and presents the artists and their work.

STROKE Urban Art Fair works as a parallel universe to the inflated classical art market of the“rich and beautiful”, driven by aggressive investment strategies, auction houses and the greed for spectacular prices. Passion and dedication are still more important than business plans and projections.

All practical information are available on the STROKE Website.


Interview Giacomo Spazio

Giacomo Spazio (by his own’s words)
To the unaccustomed eye, my works may seem incoherent, blurred or, better yet, without solution of continuity. But nowadays the idea of creation has changed. It’s no more a matter of creating something out of nothing, but to bring up-to-date, to give new life to what has already been produced. This does not imply a lack of creative force but, rather, a radical change of the “materials” available. There is an infinite array of neglected materials (in the physical world and in our memory) which we may re-use in new combinations. So contemporary artists like me can only draw ideas from very dissimilar sources and combine them together, blend them with our own ideas and throw them before your eyes.

My works, show that coherence is dead, whereas art as a form of expression is alive and springs from the whirlwinds of tensions and contradictions that surround me/us. Art is imagination and nothing else. As an artist, I do not pursue an aim and I do not follow a trend. I have no agendas, no style to defend nor a path to show. I don’t care about specializations, technical problems and diversification, because I’m not looking for perfection. I don’t know what I want, but I know what I’m looking for – and by all means I refuse “isms”.
Every time I have to prepare an exhibition, I feel my efforts are pointless, I feel I’m perplexed, but I never, ever, feel inert, because I like indetermination, an endless uncertainty. I have a strong interest in fragments, landscapes, chromatic sequences, overlapping, juxtapositions. In an age rooted in inconsistency and confusion, I think it’s meaningless to have a clear idea of my own path. Even if I can work using all my experience, I’m still convinced that in order to anticipate the future it is necessary to get lost in it. Using my wide open eyes I can only hear the noise of the colors surrounding me and towering over me. But the noise of colors, just like the noise of music, will never be a nuisance. Art is a sign. A mere sign. Just a hint of a sign! Voice/Noise!

Giacomo Spazio, ACAB, Mixed Media on Canvas

Giacomo Spazio, ACAB, 2011
Mixed media on Canvas

Hi Giacomo.  When you were young, have you ever thought that when you’d be 53 years old, you would still do art and open a gallery?

Hi! I think that when you are young, it is very hard to think that one day you will be an artist. Especially if you come from a working class family like me. Personally, I never asked myself this question. To create “my things” was the only way to avoid working in a factory all my life.

You were already evolving in art in the 70’s and the 80’s.  What is the main difference between those times and now?
To tell the truth, the only real difference is the following: rich people in the 70’s gave money to create and this was surely a gift from the Freaks/Hippies culture. In the 80’s, the Punk movement gathered very different kind of people, united by the “No Future!” claim. In the opposite, today everything goes faster!
But to create your own culture, you need a lot of time and this is always the same, at every period of time.

Do you miss that, these years?
No! For me the past is the past! When I think about it I smile, because I have been lucky and I’ve become the person I am now. A man. A man who loves everything that surrounds him. A man who likes present!

Today, do you have a model or an idol in art?
Personally I have no model from whom I take my inspiration. But I am very ecstatic of the quantity of really good artists who live in my time… And it is at this exact moment that I become very little and like an ant I try to work hard to get results which talk for me, without copying anyone.

When you work on a piece, how do you feel?
I am always happy, even when I deal with sad themes. If I am sad, I just want to be left alone.

What kind of music do you listen to when you are “working”?
First of all the music must be very loud, almost deafening. I listen to all kind of music from Daft Punk to Polygon Window via Pole and from Tubelord to Heptones via Tikiman. I go crazy for music and almost all of my works have a link with it!

You use a lot of techniques in your creations. Do you have a favorite one? Why?
I prefer serigraphy (silkscreen), because I like the idea of repetition. But every piece is unique. The main subject is the same, but I change the language, the color, and everything that isn’t part of the image in the foreground.  But sometimes, even the main subject is different.

You also use a lot of different colors. What do they represent for you?
The only way to be really unique! Colors I use are most of the time my own colors I create! For example the base color is made of silicon, white steel, silver and white pearl.

Giacomo Spazio, You Need Me, Mixed Media on Canvas

Giacomo Spazio, You Need Me (Get Out There), 2011
Work on Canvas

If you were a dictionary, what would be the definition of Art?
No mater how, but express yourself with all the means necessary. (DIY)

Your are an artist but you also opened a gallery in Milan which is called  “Limited No Art Gallery” , how do you feel being on the “other side”?
I didn’t open an art gallery but my studio became a place for exhibitions where I try to put in contact creative persons, curious ones and collectors, showing them what I personally think to be unique, interesting and beautiful. Sometimes, I had to be a curator because some people asked me to be a curator. It is a work that I respect a lot and by making it I have learnt that like dishonest curator, it also exists dishonest artists!

How do you select the artists who make exhibitions in the Limited No Art Gallery?
Usually, I organize exhibitions of artists I personally know and whose work I admire. Sometimes, I give the exhibition space for free.

Do you have children? Are they artists too?
I have two sons and they are creative like all the young people in the world. By now, they are both interested in music. The first one is 20 years old, he plays bass and sings. The second one is 17 years old and he plays drums.

What kind of job would you have done if you were not an artist?
When I was 13 years old I wanted to be a poet and maybe it is the reason why there are always letters, lyrics and/or small sentences in my works.

Tell me the very last word of this interview!
ANARTCHIST!  (I invented this word and it means I’m an anarchy artist to explain exactly what I am)

Thank you very much for this interview Giacomo!