It was years in the making, a reopening of the world and BEYOND THE STREETS bringing its large-scale graffit and street art survey to Shanghai for its first international showcase. A works on paper and London show later, BTS Shanghai has finally opened its doors in the mega-metropolis. It's the first exhibition of its kind in China, and in typical BTS style, the show is massive. From Barry McGee to local Shanghai graffiti writers, John Ahearn to Lady AIKO's outstanding installation here, it seems to be an uninhibited showcase; fun and engaging, interactive even. 

The exhibition’s story starts more than 50 years ago, when the contemporary concept of “graffiti” took shape in the streets of New York and Philadelphia in the mid to late ’60s. Kids, inspired equally from boredom and ego, started scrawling their names and monikers everywhere, spawning copycats and competition. These early acts of letter-based marks, through pen and marker and spray paint, became monumental when repeated on a global scale.

The inaugural launch in Los Angeles in 2018 captured the world’s attention with a massive presentation of graffiti and street art. The exhibition featured more than one hundred individuals who helped shape and evolve the art form, alongside major cultural figures who drew inspiration from the movement. The show’s central theme was the collective urgency of using the street as a canvas for expression. And while the subject matter varies and the mediums are many, it is in the public sphere where these messages find a home.

In 2019, BEYOND THE STREETS headed back to the art form’s mecca, New York City, whose iconic images of painted subway cars made graffiti famous worldwide. The exhibition continues to examine the human need for self-expression, highlighting artists with roots in graffiti and street art whose work has evolved into highly disciplined studio practices, alongside an expanded look at the role of music and the theme of artist empowerment.

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Now, BEYOND THE STREETS comes to Shanghai, a pivotal city that continues to grow as an art capital for Asia. That this city embraces the graffiti and street art movement shows its exceptional ear and eye to global movements and unique cultural phenomenons. Graffiti and street art are not just about writing on walls; it’s about motion, control, energy and style. It’s about music, fashion, design and film. The vitality and spirit of graffiti culture has influenced decades and decades of contemporary culture, and as Shanghai opens its arms to new ideas and traditions, BEYOND THE STREETS is an all-encompassing overview of 50 years of art history.   

The streets were a starting point to evolve their message and style. Rooted less in art schools and more on outdoor surfaces, many artists expanded their styles and pushed their craft in figurative, illustrative, realist or abstract forms, turning the energy of their experiences toward more traditional settings.

And for still others, the streets were never an origin but an inspiration. Elements of graffiti and street art can be found across music, fashion and contemporary art, all helping this culture to proliferate further.

Participating Artists include:
AIKO, Alexis Ross, André Saraiva, Andrew Schoultz, Barry McGee, BAST, Bert Krak, BG 183, Bill Barminski, BIO, LADE, Brian McTernan, C.R. Stecyk III, Carlos MARE, CES, Charlie Ahearn, Chaz Bojórquez, Claudia Gold, Conor Harrington, Craig Costello, CRASH, DABSMYLA, David CHINO Villorente, DAZE, DEFER, DEZIO, DOVES, Dr. REVOLT, EL BARTO, Eric HAZE, ESCIF, Estevan Oriol, FAB FIVE FREDDY, FAILE, Faith XLVII, Felipe Pantone, FUTURA2000, GAS, Greg Lamarche, Greg CRAOLA Simkins, Gustavo Zermeño Jr., Henry Chalfant, Janette Beckman, Jason REVOK, Joe Conzo, John Ahearn, JOINTS, KATSU, KC Ortiz, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Kristofferson San Pablo, Kunle Martins, LADY PINK, Maripol, Mark Bode, Mark Mothersbaugh, Martha Cooper, MAST, Matt McCormick, MIKE 171, Mister CARTOON, NICER, NOC 167, OG SLICK, Otani Workshop, Patrick Martinez, Paul Insect, POSE, Richard Colman, RIME, RISK, ROCKY 184, Ron English, SABER, Sage Vaughn, SJK 171, SMITH, SNAKE 1, STASH, Stephen ESPO Powers, Takashi Murakami, TAKI 183, Tim Conlon, Timothy Curtis, Todd James, VANCE YUAN, VHILS, Victor REYES, Victor Solomon, WANE, WICKED GARY, XEME, ZEPHYR, ZESER