The Return: "Futura 2020" Sees the Legend's First Solo Show in NYC in 30 Years @ Eric Firestone
There are those rare legends in a genre who command respect and visceral reaction at even the utterance of their name. Futura2000 occupies that realm. When that graffiti moniker first arrived on the NYC scene in the early 1970s, it immediately defined an aesthetic and visual accompaniment like few artists to have painted on the streets. Futura just sounds like a pioneering name, and a pioneer he was, as attested by countless stories from graffiti historians and fellow peers who speak of his rarified level of experimentation and abstract mark-making that provided a bridge between fine art and graffiti, trailblazing the potential of graff. Like Michael Jordan in basketball, whose name invokes the cultural reach and mastery of his field, so does Futura2000 with graffiti.
Viewing his newest body of work, Futura 2020, on view now at Eric Firestone Gallery in NYC, is to feel palpable energy coming off the canvas. What may appear as a simple, minimal approach is actually the and Futura’s concentrated exploration of the cosmos and “perpetual motion.” The gallery notes recurring motifs that “include an atom shape, denoting perpetual motion; a crane or a linear mark signifying a break or rupture; and the Pointman: an alien, robotic figure.” That figure, re-energized into streetwear and even the legendary 1998 Unkle album Psyence Fiction, feels crisp and current. That this is Futura’s first solo exhibition in NYC in 30 years should be a typo: how could someone who helped define the city’s stature in emerging art have not shown there in 3 decades?
As an outside observer, that Futura2000 is showing in his home city for the first time in 30 years on the heels of one of the most trying times in the city’s history and on the precipice of an unpredictable winter with Covid lurking, Futura 2020 is like a return to form to that old New York. The legends are back, the city’s resilience and ability to reimagine and rekindle its own history is a powerful force in what has been a powerless and, quite frankly, paralyzing year. To an originator nearly 50 years into his career, who always focused on a futuristic aesthetic in the first place, there is rebirth on the horizon. And the Futura2000 we find in Futura 2020 is as groundbreaking as ever. —Evan Pricco