Over the course of three weeks in September (though the exact beginning and completion dates are unknown to me), I watched Brazilian street artists (and twin brothers), Os Gemeos, paint the above murals, which cover the exposed facades of two buildings that border a vacant lot, located on the north side of West 14th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. The murals portray two rival break dancing crews from the ’80s. I imagine that this fun piece, which is a great example of Os Gemeos very distinctive style, will stay up until someone decides to put up a building. Which could happen at any time.
This is what the murals looked like when I first walked past them, during the weekend of September 9th.
Figures Left to Right: TakuspeFAD Jersey, TakuspeFAD, and Takuspe B-Girl Down Jacket by Taku Obata (All Photos By Gail)
Jonathan LeVine Gallery is currently hosting Bust a Move, a series of new works by Japanese artist Taku Obata, in his debut solo exhibition in the United States. Bust a Move features Obata’s dynamic wooden sculptures, drawings and lithographs of b-boys, or break-dancers, with a distinctly interpreted fashion style. A b-boy himself, the artist has a precise understanding concerning the forms of the human body and how they move, creating works that are bursting with the kinetic energy found in this urban dance form.
The life-size (and larger!) sculptures in Bust a Move are captured in freeze stances, poses that complete every breakdance battle, and are adorned in brightly-colored jumpsuits with accessories sampled from the old-school b-boy style. Surreally elongated hats, glasses and gloves create the illusion of movement, in contrast with the stagnant demeanor of Obata’s subjects. The works have a dominating presence and by portraying modern dance through the ancient technique of Japanese wood-carving, the artist effectively merges popular culture with his cultural roots.
Obata fully immerses viewers in the environment of this subculture through his 3-D works, with the goal of enhancing our awareness and physical senses. In his own words, “I am not simply creating a b-boy, but I aim to create an atmosphere, a cool space with a certain strange and interesting tension.”
LeVine is also displaying a collection of Obata’s drawings of b-boys in action, wearing bright, neon colored outfits.
Taku Obata’s Bust a Move will be on Exhibit Through December 20th, 2014, at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 West 20th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.