Shepard Fairey – Obey – A Private Collection
Tonight Mondo Bizzarro Gallery hosts the first comprehensive exhibition in Italy on Shepard Fairey, one of the most famous street artists in the world. Those not too familiar with street art certainly know him for the Obama posters he did in 2008. I had the chance to stop by the gallery before the opening tonight to take some photos of the 60 odd works that all come from the private collection of a Roman collector. The pieces span from 1997 to 2010 and really show the development of his work; I must admit that I give all the credit to this collector that had the foresight to gather up this impressive amount of work. Everything is on sale and range from limited edition prints, some on wood, to one off pieces made with rubylith. Especially impressive were the two prints on collage (a detail of one is the main image), which though strong in their message, are delicate in their material. And yes, there is one of the Obama prints, the one shown has the word “Progress.”
In classic Shepard Fairey fashion the images range from music and art icons (Ozzy Osbourne and Keith Haring) to politically charged images reminiscent of WWII propaganda posters to ominous warnings about “Big Brother.” The show wouldn’t be complete without at least one Andre the Giant and there is one, a poster advertising a 2000 Fairey exhibit in Japan.
Fairey, like many artists, has both his detractors and supporters, but you can’t deny the dent he’s made in street art. His pieces have found their way into major museums and yet he still pastes on the street. He’s proven that one man can spread his “propaganda” around the world (I ran into one of his posters all the way in Hiroshima!). Kudos to Mondo Bizzarro for bringing his work out to the Roman public. The show is also accompanied by a small catalog detailing his life and work and containing all of the images on display – definitely a worthwhile purchase if you can’t pony up for one of the prints.
The show opens tonight at 6:30 pm and, judging from all the buzz surrounding it, should be a madhouse scene. I’ll be going back to enjoy the show again with the masses and say hello to friends who will surely be there. If you can’t make it tonight, you have a whole month to pass by, but if you’re considering purchasing anything, I’d get there quickly, as things are sure to get snapped up. Check out below this studio interview with the artist from 2006, where he talks about his work, his methods, and how the street translates into his gallery work.
Shepard Fairey. Obey. A Private Collection
January 23 – February 23, 2011
Mondo Bizzarro Gallery
via Reggio Emilia 32c/d (Rome)
OPENING January 29, 6:30 pm – 10:30pm
Gallery open Mon – Sat 12 pm – 8 pm, Sun 4 pm – 8 pm