It was as much of a scene outside on Wooster Street as it was inside Deitch Projects Gallery when political-meets-pop street artist Shepard Fairey hosted the May 1st opening for his latest provocative art extravaganza, May Day. In conjunction with Fairey’s recent, hotly topical mural on East Houston Street in NYC, Fairey’s new body of work celebrates the spirit of Revolution with recognizable images of iconic political personae as well legends of the rock and art world – from John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Jean-Michel Basquiat to Joan Jett and John Cage.
Unlike Mr. Brainwash, who tends to appropriate images directly from existing sources, embellishing them in some kind of outrageous, whimsical fashion, Fairey interprets his subject image realistically, yet in a softer light, generally revealing them as more aesthetically appealing than they are in real life (example: check out his portrait of Neil Young with his guitar and tell me that Young was ever that good looking).
The limited color palette of red, navy and gold also adds a cohesive, grounded feel to the collection. For anyone who knows Fairey only from his “Giant Obey” street art campaign or his now universally familiar “Hope” poster for Barack Obama, May Day should open eyes and minds as to this artist’s immense and wide-reaching talent. As an added bonus, because we were among the first 300 people to enter the gallery, we received a limited edition, commemorative May Day poster personally signed by Shepard Fairey; a very nice surprise indeed!
Edward Hopper, Anyone?
May Day shows through May 29, 2010 at Deitch Projects Gallery (Note: this will be the final exhibit at the gallery, which is moving Los Angeles) located at 18 Wooster Street, Between Canal and Grand.