Oakland-based anonymous graffiti artist GATS (Graffiti Against the System) is known for his iconic mask imagery which comments on a plethora of political injustices. Against the Grain will be GATS’ first solo exhibition at Spoke NYC, in which he will be continuing his distinct graffiti insignia through a variety of mediums while incorporating elements from found objects.
In Against the Grain , GATS continues utilizing his iconic mask imagery, which represents a global identity that breaks down all barriers and prejudices. Known primarily for large-scale graffiti work in public spaces, GATS has re-contextualized his work for the gallery space by working in a variety of mediums he may not otherwise be able to on the streets. By utilizing a variety of found objects as a canvas (ie. a vintage child’s sled, skate decks and a wooden trunk) , GATS allows the viewer to pause and observe his intricate insignia and iconography while creating unique surfaces and compositions. Many of the objects carry specific meaning to the GATS, giving a nod to graffiti artists’ use of fire extinguishers as a brush, or driftwood, as a representation of his desire to reconnect with nature. Lettering is incorporated throughout the works, paying homage to individuals he admires and notable political movements in history.
“On a micro level I’m thinking about the chain link fence standing between me and the wall I need to paint. On a macro level I’m thinking about the conceptual borders between nations preventing us from collaborating as citizens of the world. My gallery work is usually referencing graffiti and thus naturally questioning the social construct of property.”