Welcome to an exploration of hip-hop graffiti. Painting Under Pressure looks at hip-hop graffiti’s emerging role as a form of contemporary art.
Artists play an important role as social commentators. They create works reflecting their emotional reactions to the world around them. Goya, Van Gogh and Picasso are just three examples of artists whose intense responses to people, politics and war profoundly affected their work. They developed and pioneered styles that were considered outrageous in their day, styles that were not widely accepted for decades to follow. This pattern continues in today’s contemporary art world, including the evolving genre of graffiti.
When I began working on this exhibition, I entered the world of graffiti as a newcomer. I was greeted with enthusiasm, respect and a sincere desire to further the dialogue between graffti and non-graffti enthusiasts. It became evident to me that graffiti is a powerful vehicle for self-expression with its own language, voice and vision, yet its messages are often hidden, misunderstood or overlooked.
Painting Under Pressure takes graffti off the streets and brings it inside the Gallery, giving visitors an extraordinary opportunity to see works by eight of Canada’s most prolific “writers” up close. Each work has been created within the Gallery's walls. By intentionally presenting graffti out of context, we hope to create an environment that will generate dialogue and sharpen our senses.
Is graffti art? Are pieces created legally, like those here, still graffti? Is graffti vandalism? Take a closer look at graffiti and its place in contemporary culture. You may be surprised at what you find.
Lori Ellis, Curator, Painting Under Pressure
Art Gallery of Calgary
Copyright © 2006 Kershaw, Watt and students