REVOK and SABER Opening Known Gallery
by Robin Fleming
In the long days and late nights leading to the July 28th opening of the REVOK and SABER show, the excitement was palpable. Friends and neighbors stopped by as a collaborative three-panel piece was completed in the alley behind Known Gallery in Los Angeles. The pervasive spirit of solidarity and enthusiasm continued into last night’s packed opening, where crew, family, fans and collectors celebrated along with the two artists and long time painting partners. SABER describes the event as, “A major benchmark for myself, for REVOK and Known Gallery, as individuals and as friends. Casey at Known Gallery is one of our mentors, without him we wouldn’t be on the path that we are now. Then there’s me and REVOK, as brothers, people that followed the same path, now trying to make more art, be better people and try to bring the story forward.”
Starting at their beginnings, REVOK and SABER used Known’s “Project Room” as an opportunity to wallpaper the walls in their shared visual history. REVOK explains, “The purpose of the room, the show and the body of work is what graffiti is always struggling with- impermanence. SABER and I have been doing this for over twenty years and we’ve painted thousands of pieces. I wanted people to come in and feel overwhelmed and engulfed by this massive body of work that no longer exists.”
In the “Beautification” collection, SABER’s hyper realistic images clearly express his passion, the omnipresent largess of his tags, his reverence for the commitment and risk involved in getting up, and his disdain for a buffed wall. “What we do is a reflection of the society we live in and that’s what these particular paintings here have to do with: city government, laws, buffing, the money spent on buffing, the will to stay alive-to be an immortal, the idea of trailblazing, the idea of a wish to become somebody, is all underneath the layers of the walls, all those stories are there. Being able to paint a mural is not a negative thing. The fact that painting a basic piece of artwork, publicly, is illegal brings focus to the idea that art is a necessity and if art isn’t considered a necessity in society then it leads to other outlets or subcultures and that’s where graffiti lies.”
Taking the name “Gilgamesh” for his newest collection of work REVOK continues the quest for immortality. “For so long I’ve been painting graffiti, trying to find my voice, and trying to figure out how to take what I did in the street and have it make sense indoors. You paint REVOK on a wall a million times and it gets kind of redundant, so I decided not to make it about me, but to make it about everybody. It’s a whole new way of making stuff; it’s fun to have a new approach. There are two aspects of the work that I’m making; getting into the studio and cutting stuff up, painting, designing pieces and assembling them and the other aspect of going out and acquiring all the materials. I live in Detroit and it’s a massive urban wasteland where over sixty percent of all real estate is abandoned. It’s the inspiration for the work I’m making, hundreds and hundreds of pieces in each piece. Every little piece was somebody’s home, or a church. Then it reached a point where it’s discarded and when it’s supposed to end I take that piece and give it a new life. Hopefully it’ll live on forever.” As Known Gallery’s Casey Zoltan eloquently put it, “REVOK has taken something that is kind of fucked up, and burnt out and made it into something really beautiful. That makes him the master of that object. He’s kinged that object, because he’s the one who made it to something good. They always say, “If these walls could talk.” Well in a sense these walls do talk.
To go hear the walls and see this incredible show head over to Known Gallery before August 11th, for more details go to www.knowngallery.com.
Saber pointing out his first tag:
Saber and Revok prepping:
Revok working on history:
Through August 11, 2012
441 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, California