Tracing Art – “VIVA LA REVOLUCION” San Diego

Last week Dabs, Myla and I headed down to San Diego to paint a wall and check out a group exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art.

I was looking forward to checking out the exhibition especially after seeing the amazing wall Os Gemeos painted on the museums parking structure.

When we arrived, we saw that there was a long line that extending down the street and that the museum was charging $20 per person to view the exhibition. Out of principal I refused to pay to see so called “street art”, and found it annoying that I had to sneak past security to get inside.

Once inside we began to walk around and check out the art work on display. What seemed to be the main room, had a few interesting pieces on display from Swoon, Os Gemeos and others.

Connected to this room was a smaller room that was closed off by a glass door and tightly guarded by security. This was the room where Banksy’s work was on display. I found it amusing that the security was only letting about 15 people into this room at once, for a designated amount of time. Once patrons found their way inside they were met by another security guard that carefully measured the distance viewers were standing from Banksy’s mediocre canvas work. If you got close he’d urge you to step back.

This started to irritate me, but what topped it off was when I saw someone try to take a cell phone pic of one of the Banksy works. The security immediately stepped in and firmly stated that their is to be no photography of any of the work displayed! Are you fucking kidding me? Someone like Da’Vinci has been dead for hundreds of years, yet you are able to go to more respectable museums and take pictures of his masterpieces. Work that is genius, irreplaceable, and done with hand crafted skill.

Yeah Banksy’s work is amusing and is interesting to look at (much like spinn-offs found on Hot Topic T-shirt racks). I have to admit that Banksy must spend hours skillfully photoshopping bananas into Vince & Jule’s hands. Like mad talent..

From Film-

To Hot Topic Racks-

To The Gallery-

I guess I tend favor artwork that’s made directly from imagination without the support of a one to one reference or guide. Creating copies from clip art or trace replication has never been something that impressed me. It’s like gathering references for a research paper in college. A professor requires that you use three of more sources when writing your thesis. If it is found out that you pulled the majority of your conclusions from one source you would be accused of plagiarism. How much of a reference can you use before it is considered a copy? Does tracing and reworking an established photo in illustrator give you the right to credit the art work as your own?

*Photograph of Keith Haring by Patrick McMullan

Shepard Fairey’s tracing of McMullan’s photograph…

This is all debatable and can be a real touchy subject to some. I guess it’s just old fashioned of me to expect more from successful gallery artists. I can go on and on about this but I have some miles to drive and painting to do.

* Presenting Keith Haring with a spray can is as odd as highlighting Michael Jordan by presenting him with a baseball and bat.

11 thoughts on “Tracing Art – “VIVA LA REVOLUCION” San Diego

  1. Rime,
    I’ve been reading/following your blog for … shit … since it’s been up. I’ve never commented even though i thoroughly enjoy every post, burner and piece of artwork you throw up. I guess because it’d be ridiculous to comment “FUCKING RAD” on every post.

    But today is different. Your views on paying for street art at the exhibit and how ridiculous the security behaved is spot on. I totally agree with you. Having been doing “street art” and “graffiti” for almost 14 years now, I find that pretty fucking stupid. Believe me, I’m thrilled that street art and graffiti get the recognition they do today, but it seems it comes with a curse. And I couldn’t agree with you more about Shepard and Banksy’s work. How preposterous it is to see those two with so much recognition. And what for? Mediocre work. I see Banksy-level artwork constantly in shows. Where some art student made a stencil of some regurgitated image and slapped it on some tank or political juxtaposition. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy some of Banksy and Shepard’s work, but shit, the hype is outrageous.

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for expressing your views and for being completely truthful and real about the issue. I’m happy to see someone of your caliber and with the audience you have stand up and speak the truth.

    Keep up the good work.

    Long time fan,

    Kristopher Kanaly

  2. Guess thats why you lent your talents to and cosigned the real genius behind Banksy, Mr Brainwash and his awesome awesome show. Douche.

  3. You may have one of the most interesting blogs i’ve have came across in some time. i’ve been following your work since 99 when I got into writing and just recently found this blog… respect

  4. I agree with you on the aesthetics/ originality of these artists, but wouldn’t it make more sense for you to comment on their work in the ‘street’/street. I always thought the best part of graffiti was how you have to fight for space. If your contemporaries don’t see fit for your work to survive… it won’t. My 2 pennies.

  5. In a humanities(painting) class i took, they gave us an appropriation project. They pretty much explained it like the following……

    APPROPRIATION=In the visual arts, to appropriate means to adopt, borrow, recycle or sample aspects (or the entire form) of man-made visual culture. Strategies include “re-vision, re-evaluation, variation, version, interpretation, imitation, proximation, supplement, increment, improvisation, prequel… pastiche, paraphrase, parody, forgery, homage, mimicry, travesty, shan-zhai, echo, allusion, intertextuality and karaoke.” The term appropriation refers to the use of borrowed elements in the creation of a new work.

    BITING is a word used in graffiti terms. A lot of great artist take styles and bits from other great artists to benefit there style or piece. For instance in that homage to jackson pollock, the style he used was integrated with the famous Rime style and it came out amazing! I do agree that some of the artwork created by stated artist is a little simple and not fully modified but there is an idea behind it. Some of the work created by those dudes has a point to get across. I too am a fan of “artwork that’s made directly from imagination without the support of a one to one reference or guide”. But with so much art in the world nowadays its hard to clear your mind and start fresh. I dont know how you do it Joe. Fuck paying for street art.!

    BTW I did my appropriation on Kofie UTI and i created a collage of many of his great pieces. when i meet up with him ill give it to him, if he wants it.

  6. I left my thoughts about Viva la Revolucion but the webmaster deleted it not because I dismissed the show but because I was critical of the way it was a mostly “Boys” club excluding Female artists for the most part and also many Black Artists. The show should have been called Male Appropriation Art in the Americas. The work for the most part all looked as if it drew from the same palette and was packaged the same way. Very little variety and lots of spectacles fantasy and distractions in a decade full of serious sources to define their generation. Ins’t a pity that all we seem to be swayed by is the sophomoric calling of middle class mischief.

    -Sandy Lazzar
    San Francisco, CA

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