Gangs, Tribes, and Fraternities: Prefab77 in New Jersey
Gangs, Tribes & Fraternities, is a new solo show at Jonathan Levine Projects this month by British mixed media artist Prefab77. Prefab77 creates work that merges imagery from popular and street culture into visually stunning and allegorical portraits. Recognized for motifs of beautiful women and repurposed symbols, his hard edged aesthetic is an anti-establishment reflection of money, power and politics.
His unique process begins by photographing a subject and reproducing the image through screen printing. He consequently adds numerous layers with an array of media, including acrylic paint, spraypaint, ink, wheatpaste and printing, playfully combining both digital and analog techniques. His fascination with multi-layered compositions stems from his time living in New York City. He describes, “This period of my life is central to my imagery. Living on Elizabeth Street in Nolita in the transitional '90's, between rough and ready door dwellers to armed guarded jewelry stores, I fell in love with the layers of tags and posters that, over the years, created a neglected, urgent, idiosyncratic and incidental beauty.”
This new body of work, which includes pieces on canvas, paper, wood and metal, expresses abstract ideas similar to the way a modern fable tells a story of warning. The artist elaborates, “Gangs, tribes and fraternities....we all belong to one of them at some point as it's human nature to band together. Mankind has an innate desire to tribe, to belong, build do it yourself fraternities that cause havoc among rivals historically, now and always.”