Metropolis - Cryptic 257, Masker, Pasta, Point, Skarf, Tron

15 Oct 2010 – 31 Jan 2011

Following its success at the Czech pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, the exhibition has now returned home. A version of the exhibition, slightly adapted to the DOX Centre’s space, will provide an opportunity to judge the level, quality and development of works of the six artists, whose names - Masker, Pasta, Tron, Skarf, Cryptic 257 and Point - have been in the public consciousness for the past fifteen years at least.

For societies throughout the world street art and graffiti are a fairly accessible, clear and lucid art form that does not require any deep knowledge of art. Thanks to that it easily gains fans, who do not need to know the language, political situation or other details, above all because of its visual brazenness and aptness, enhanced by the locations where it unexpectedly occurs or which it complements in an unusual and often witty fashion.

In creating their individual concepts the artists focused on depicting an existing city in their imagination. They demolished the four-walled gallery space in the eyes of the visitors and replaced it with materialized graffiti in an unaccustomed urban setting. This gave rise to a fantastical vision of the future, which at root is also attached to the inherent architectonic elements of Czech cities that enhance its unique character.

This exhibition of street art and graffiti plays with dimensions, reality and dream. Placed in the exhibition space will be an urban collage, which visitors will enter beneath bridge structures directly into the vestibule of a Prague metro station with typical marble walls, information boards and a new Czech invention: a graffiti vending machine that will dispense spray cans and masks instead of drinks (Cryptic 257).
The ‘underground’ installations lead onto a surrealistic vision of Communist-era prefab apartment blocks penetrated by some colored organic matter – does it destroy their structure or hold them together? It looks like a play thing or a terrifying urban worm, consuming the city’s innards (Point).
A key element giving shape to the entire installation in space will be a time-lapse video montage monitoring the transformation of the environment over time which lends the entire gallery/urban space a uniform atmosphere, using the sounds and noises of urban life (Skarf).

Alongside projections documenting destruction the visitor will come upon a candy store full of atypical candies with 1960s-style aesthetics, all sorts of neon signs with crazy wordings, slightly reminiscent of Charlie’s Chocolate Factory from Tim Burton’s film, bordering on art and kitsch (Pasta). 
Pass the candy store appears a miniature three-story prefabricated apartment block offering views of the lives of surreal figures who inhabit each of the floors and the opportunity to see literally what is going on in their minds (Masker).
Looking down on the apartment block is a group of skyscrapers, whose shapes form the inscription TRON – the artist’s nick-name. Supplementing the light-installation are flashing neon signs recalling a futuristic vision of cities.

The artists:
Amazingly for many, this group of artists who were street-taught consists of graduates of leading Czech art schools, some of whom studied abroad and over time have exhibited in many Czech and foreign galleries and at art festivals. They are now among the most active artists in their field.

Cryptic (*1982) is an artist whose work can be best summed up in the sentence: “The main stuff happens outside.” Any attempt to pigeon-hole his work as going beyond the frontiers of graffiti, or street art, or art in public space, proves pointless and restrictive when his work is examined more closely. The wit, perceptiveness and dexterity with which he intervenes in our common public space transforms with fine nuances what we regard as ordinary into something remarkable. His apparently simple ideas have powerful reverberations, and they include an element of irony, humor and a discreet story line. Most important, however is freedom and a certain kind of humility towards what he reshapes.

Point (*1978) aka Cakes attended two Prague art schools and toured graffiti festivals in Berlin, Moscow, Manchester, Amsterdam and Gothenburg, among others. In 2008 he organized an ambitious international festival of street art and graffiti titled NAMES in Prague. He is one of the legends of the Czech scene (DSK crew). He practices not only classic graffiti with a talent for dynamic compositions with playful coloring, but also creates street-art sculptures of various formats and is not afraid of experiment, thus shifting the boundaries of the genre. He has reduced the broadly sweeping graffiti style onto canvas as a concentrated minimalist style in the spirit of Piet Mondrian. Although in recent years his art has partly shifted into galleries, he has not stopped intervening in urban space. His unforgettable works include his Monument to the Victims of Graffiti, which he installed in 2007 at one of the busiest locations in Prague, 3D sculptures of small dragons made up of the letters in POINT, which he calls “little points” and has placed on the parapets of dozens of buildings, and countless small colored creations throughout the Czech Republic.

Pasta (*1979) patří k průkopníkům české streetartové scény, působí jako vydavatel a šéfredaktor jediného českého streetart-graffiti magazínu Clique. Podílel se na vzniku první české knihy mapující vývoj graffiti v Čechách – In Graffiti We Trust. Ulice zdobí sítotisky, samolepkami, záplavou plakátů s výraznými texty a „subvertisingem“.
Jak je pro jeho generaci typické, neomezuje se pouze na intervenci v městském prostoru a jeho mobiliáři, ale s úplnou samozřejmostí vstupuje do galerií a klasických uměleckých disciplín. Vytváří čistý grafický styl s kořeny v americkém pop-artu a reklamy 60. let, jeho práce odkazuje na Andyho Warhola, Roye Lichtensteina, či Claese Oldenburga. Neodlučitelnou součástí jeho děl je časté zobrazování tuby pasty v různých „životních“ situacích. V poslední době baví sebe a návštěvníky klubů jako dj, krátce měl s Pointem vlastní radiový pořad o české graffiti scéně. Nepravidelně navrhuje oblečení a design výrobků.

Tron (*1978) belongs to the most expressive wave of Czech (Prague) writers with many achievements to his credit. He is engaged in countless graphic activities with the magazines “Rooftop”, “Free Magazine” and “Upstream”, ranging from festival visuals, books, CD covers for bands, web design, and the creation of original fonts, to the design of posters and invitations to arts events. His graphics projects of the recent period include Names Festival, Kick the Shit! Bitch!, OBR, the Thick-skinned Moviegoers’ Festival for the Aero Movie Theater, IFP, visuals for the Bigg Boss label, etc. In addition to computer graphics, who also produces drawings and airbrush works. He brings his vivid imagination to bear on graffiti and visual effects. Member of CAP, NUTS, DSK a TOYZ!

Blanka Čermáková (*1979) has worked since 2006 as a curator and fundraiser at the Academy of Fine Art in Prague. She is a member of the “Trafaček” civic association, which administers an alternative exhibition and residential space in Prague’s Vysočany district. In addition to regular annual group exhibitions of graduates in the Prague National Gallery, she assisted with the NAMES international street art and graffiti festival held in Prague in 2008.

Mezi doprovodné programy výstavy patří projekce dokumentu z čínské Šanghaje, večer ve stylu Pecha Kucha Night, kde se budou jednotliví umělci prezentovat vlastními portfolii, projekce kultovních videí Kick the Shit, komentované prohlídky se samotnými autory, debatní večer na téma Dobytí veřejného prostoru a mnoho dalších.

Accompanying Programs
DOX Centre for Contemporary Art organizes a series of accompanying programs to the exhibition including projections of a documentary about Shanghai, an evening event based on the EXPO 2010 theme with representatives of the management of the Czech pavilion, projection of the Kick the Shit cult videos, guided tours with commentaries by the artists themselves, presentations of their portfolios, and many more. 

Events take place on Mondays and Thursdays either in the lecture hall or in the DOX cafeteria from 18.00 o’clock. 

Two publications accompany the exhibition: a DOX published Czech-English catalogue about the exhibition itself and a more detailed English-Chinese publication accompanying the Shanghai EXPO 2010 is also available.