In honor of his show here 1AM, we thought it would be a great idea to interview Zekwer and get to know more about him, his Alphabetism series, and the street art scene as a French artist.
What was your inspiration for the Alphabetism series?
For this series, my source of inspiration was simply the thousands of letters that I have seen throughout my life. But I work a lot on spontaneity, try to always maintain this side of freestyle that gives you some freedom but also doesn’t give you room for error. I scraped a lot of pieces after I started this medium, so after a while you try to combine multiple styles and then it becomes natural.
Pour cette série, ma source d’inspiration est tout simplement les milliers de lettrages que j’ai put voir tout au long de ma vie. Mais je travaille beaucoup sur la spontanéité, essayer de toujours garder ce côté freestyle qui te donne une part de liberté mais qui ne te donne pas droit à l’ erreur aussi. J’ai gratté des milliers de feuilles depuis que je suis rentré dans ce milieu, donc au bout d’un moment tu essayes de combiner plusieurs styles et le tracé devient naturel.
Do you have a favorite letter/piece in the series?
Yes, definitely and at the time I noticed that letters that I would have hated in my own work, became friends and no longer vulgar, useless shapes. But my preferred ones are W X K Y C G R.
Oui bien-sûr et au fil du temps je me suis aperçus que des lettres que j’aurai détesté avoir dans mon lettrage sont devenus des amies et non plus de vulgaire formes inutiles. Mais, mes préférées sont le W X K Y C G R
What’s the graffiti scene like over in France compared to here in the US?
What stuck out to me was the lack of open, friendly space where everyone can paint. Here you have to find your own small patch/space on a wall belonging to some store and each artist, has their own playground/territory.
In France, you can go to different cities and you will always find enormous areas that have been closed down and find artists to make connections with or dare each other with large pieces. The level of artistry on the streets is really impressive but I’ll always have a preference for the European scene when it comes to murals.
La chose qui m’as le plus marqué est le manque de gros terrain convivial ou tt le monde peut peindre, ici tu dois trouver ton petit carré de mur chez le commerçant et chaque tracteurs à son propre terrain de jeux.
We come from a small town where everyone knows each other, so it makes sense to run into each other at the only spot in the city where we could paint. When you practice this type of art in a small town, the connections form a lot faster. And after all, he is a good guy.
Nous sommes originaire d’une petite ville où tt le monde se connait dc c’ était logique de se rencontrer dans l unique spot de la ville.Quand tu pratique cet art dans une petite ville les connections se font plus vite. De plus, c’un bon gars.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge as an artist?
To have people understand that graffiti is an artistic movement and not visual pollution.
Faire comprendre aux gens que le graffiti est un mouvement artistique et non pas de la pollution visuelle.
How do you want people to respond to your work?
Preferably in a positive manner if it’s other artists, but if it’s not to each their own. Everyone is allowed to think what they want about my art. What matters is that I seek to please, paint, design, and evolve.
De préférence de manière positive sin ça vient d’autres artistes mais sinon je laisse libre à chacun de penser ce qu’il veut de mon art, le principal c’est que je trouve du plaisir a peindre,dessiner et évoluer.
Aside from your art, what other things are you passionate about?
Travelling!!! Meeting new people in new places. But otherwise, I’m a sports addict.
Voyager!!!! Rencontrer de nouvelles personnes, de nouveaux lieux. Mais sinon je suis un accroc de sport.
What’s coming up next for your career?
We had a blast Thursday night with the opening of “Remnants,” by JMikal Davis, aka Hellbent. A huge thanks to everyone who came out to join us–it was great to see some familiar faces, and awesome to see so many new ones checking out the stunning resin work. If you weren’t able to make it to opening night, don’t worry. Hellbent’s untamed colors and wild lines will still be up on display until October 13th, so be sure to come on by and take in all the energy!
A special congratulations to Hellbent for his amazing collection!
You can view the full “Remnants” collection here. For inquiries: email@example.com
Thanks to everyone who came to the opening of Motel Mademoiselle! It was great to see so many friends of the gallery enjoying the badass work of these talented women. And a special shoutout to B-Side Brujas for getting everyone dancing! Don’t worry if you missed opening night, you still have a chance to visit the gallery for your daily dose of femme fatale! Motel Mademoiselle is on display until September 15th. Check out all of the crazy opening night photos on our Facebook page. For catalog inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations Deb, Bud Snow, Chuneed, Amanda Payne, Elrod, Franceska Gamez, Nina (Girl Mobb), Yenta, Midnite Maven, & Moe Alvarez!! Let’s continue to support women in the arts!
Shamsia Hassani is the first well-known female street artist in Afghanistan. Through her art, she aims to subvert the perspective of Muslim women as oppressed and belonging to the home–a view held by many in her own community and the in the Western world. Her characters are most often depicted wearing burkas or hijabs, and are seen outside, holding musical instruments that represent freedom of voice and expression. The compositions are rendered with distinct lines and decisive shapes to convey strength in her characters. Hassani strives to destroy the association of hijabs with oppression by illustrating characters who find freedom within tradition, and are not restricted by expected gender roles.
Hassani also portrays feelings of displacement and a rejection of nationality dealt with by Afghan refugees; her characters are often distanced from their surroundings, looking at them from above. In her piece, Birds of No Nation, she explains, “Birds are constantly migrating to find food and shelter, they have no nationality because they find comfort in any safe place. I see this in the Afghan people as well, they are moving from country to country in search of peace and safety. It seems as if they have no nation like those birds. In this series, the woman is in a new area and she is feeling displaced because nothing is hers and so she does not fit in.” Shamsia Hassani challenges established perspectives and recreates an identity for Afghan women that transcends limits of nationality and marginalization.
French artist Kopsky traces his beginnings back to the suburbs of Paris, where he was born and raised under the artistic influence of his painter father. Though always surrounded by art, Kopsy discovered spray paint in the mid 90’s and began to explore its many applications and benefits. In addition to learning graffiti the “classic b-boy way,” Kopsky started studying art and moved to the Mediterranean coast. Since then, he continues to experiment with different styles of street art to “color walls across the world.”
Kopsky’s expansive, large scale work captures the balance between uninhibited spontaneity and minute mastery of detail. He works with characters, symbols, and letters in an effort to enter a realm of “dysfunctional imagination,” where he can create art that is fresh and previously undiscovered. Since 2011, Kopsky has represented “Lords Crew” and the British team “After School Klub”. By dedicating himself to constant experimentation and discovery, Kopsky delivers messages that are colorful and unprecedented–an endless quest for “the fresh effect”.
Check out more of Kopsky’s work in “Legendary: Celebrating 30 Years of Lords Crew” until July 14th! For catalog requests & inquiries: email@example.com.
Boeddeker Park once felt somewhat dangerous and empty–sitting near the unofficial open-air drug market known as the Gauntlet, it was barren and strewn with needles. The stark 6-story facade of the Windsor Hotel overlooked the park, and it’s residents formerly had very little access to any green space. The Windsor Hotel offers converted SRO units courtesy of DISH (Delivering Innovation by Supportive Housing), and following the physical park’s facelift in 2015, we’re excited to liven up the side of their residency as well. The park is now bustling with activities including homework tutoring, bodywork, teen hoops, and classes in culinary arts and life skills. As we’ve officially begun painting for the summer, the busy, bright energy of the remodeled park is soon to be reflected by a 1AM community mural.
The 1AM Mural team has spent the last year developing designs for the 6-story mural, in conjunction with DISH, Friends of Boeddeker Park, and the Tenderloin Community. After months of revision, the finalized design includes a colorful treehouse with open doors, implying the welcoming atmosphere of the community, and inviting the viewer into the world of the mural. The houses perched on the tree branches are modelled after the familiar architecture of the San Francisco skyline, with some of their windows aligning with the windows of the building–giving the illusion the Windsor’s residents are peeking out of the treehouse windows. At the base of the tree trunk is written DISH’s motto “Everyone Deserves A Home”.
DISH’s community project manager, Ariel Fortune, explained her organization’s decision to partner with us: “They are a local organization, they have a lot of artwork throughout the Tenderloin, and both artists that are working on this piece lived in the TL at one point. They have a connection to the neighborhood; they are respected.” Thanks to DISH and the Community Challenge Grant Program, 1AM is incredibly excited and grateful to be a part of this project.
Stay tuned for the finished mural, and follow our progress on Instagram!
We’ve been busy over here at 1AM! With openings at each of our locations this month, we can’t thank the Bay Area art community enough for your support.
“Legendary: Celebrating 30 Years of Lords Crew” is on display at our San Francisco gallery until July 14th, make sure to swing by and see a truly masterful collection of work from 12 domestic and international legends! Check out all of the opening night photos on our Facebook page. For catalog inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
“First Edition”, 1AM Prism’s very first juried show, is on display at our Oakland gallery until June 24th… cast your vote for the winner at 1AM Oakland any time during regular business hours.
We loved showing Eddie Colla last summer so much that we’re doing it again! Last time we visited his studio, he told us about his travels to the Salton Sea… Now he has joined David Young V and Nite Owl following the last traces of winter in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The trio visited an abandoned ski resort, read the full story here on 1xRUN! And catch his new work at our San Francisco gallery alongside Bask’s this July.