I’m currently gearing up for London! I’ll be bringing my 30th-anniversary show, “Facing the Giant: Three Decades of Dissent” to Stolen Space Gallery, the opening reception is on October 4th. If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there! Check out their website for further info, and stay tuned for more! – Shepard
Propagandist, arch manipulator, inciter, provocateur, these are all words used to describe the artist Shepard Fairey, the man many hail as the originator of the modern urban art scene and an undeniable phenomenon.
It began with an absurd sticker illustration of the wrestler André The Giant, which then evolved into an exploration of control, questioning control, and questioning the giant monolithic forces that we are all subjected to, confronting these giant issues with his work, revealing the duality to the name. The title ‘Facing the Giant’ references the giant of Fairey’s prolifically disseminated Obey Giant art campaign, but more enduringly, the giant issues and forces he confronts through his art.
Coming from a punk rock, skateboarding, and rebellious subcultures, he started off doing work in the street without permission. It was in 2008 that Shepard Fairey became a worldwide household name when he created, the renowned Obama Hope poster in red and blue colours. Since then, Fairey’s work has continued to reach the masses, inspiring the public on a global scale. Fairey’s mega sphere installation under the Eiffel Tower, entitled ‘Earth Crisis’, brought attention to the climate and sustainability debate. His work continues to address current topics of discussion across his worldwide solo exhibitions and museum shows, from Los Angeles to Paris, London, Seoul, New York, Munich and many more.
His work, a mixture of parody and protest, serves to subvert the very medium to which it attaches itself. Plastered posters adorn advertising billboards that in his own words ‘market nothingness’ while large scale posters with the simple one word message ‘obey’ stir the bewildered masses. Dissent is at the root of what he does, and it continues to be an important part of his work, pushing back against dominant systems that allow and perpetuate injustice requires dissent.
His unique use of stencils, collage, photography and painting have led to collaborations with, among others, DJ Shadow, Interpol, Smashing Pumpkins, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, the Misfits, a limited edition 12-inch featuring Chuck D, and the poster art for the Johnny Cash biopic, ‘Walk the Line’. Other collaborations include his work with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein for the Blondie ‘Pollinator’ album art, a collaborative print with Joan Jett, ‘Joan Jett The Runaway’, and the album art for Tom Petty’s ‘An American Treasure’ 2018 compilation album.
Shepard Fairey is known for his extensive and consistent production of fine art screenprints that began his career and he has continued to create provocative and accessible works with his 18 x 24-inch screen prints. For this survey of the last three decades, the selected 30 artworks will be shown as 30 x 41-inch hand painted multiples (HPMs) which are prints on unique collaged backgrounds with additional stencilling and embellishments. Facing the Giant: 3 Decades of Dissent will be the first time that many of these images are available in mediums other than the original 18 x 24-inch screen print editions that have long been unavailable on the primary market.
‘Facing the Giant’ is a curated series of images chosen for their importance aesthetically and conceptually, and for addressing critical topics and themes frequently recurring throughout Fairey’s career. “This show is a reflection, not a retrospective, because I’m still very actively creating new art, but I like the idea of highlighting both the continuity and evolution of my art and concepts over 30 years.” – Shepard Fairey, 2019
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