- Selected Works
Until very recently I knew little to nothing about graffiti or street art. Of course I had come across pioneers like Haring or Basquiat and contemporary street artists like Banksy, JR and Barry McGee but that was about it.
I started being interested in the mentality and social commitment behind this art form when I got introduced to the work of New York artist John Fekner by a dear friend. This friend showed me Fekner's hardcore stencils from the late 70’s and the 80's regarding social and environmental issues like toxic waste, consumerism, human exploitation, decay and reconstruction. Then it really got my full attention.
I was impressed by the way Fekner, through his stencils and deceptively simple "sign-poetry", brought the viewer's attention not only to his work of art but to the political problems related to its location as well.
By spraying poignant words on abandoned fabrics, demolished schools or unfinished bridges, Fekner put attention on what was going on in “forgotten” quarters like South Bronx and Queens and to the mainly black and unemployed people living there. His empathy for native Indians living in New York, and the sincere way he paid homage to them in his stencil ‘Wheels Over Indian Trails’ struck me. Since the '80s Fekner has been painting over found paintings, turning innocent landscapes into worlds of fear, pain and destruction.
Fekner is a poet with his feet on the ground, an artist who is engaged with social-political issues in a very pure, no-nonsense way. I am honoured that KAA will represent this unique artist in Europe. Recently, his work was on view during the groundbreaking show in the MOCA in Los Angeles, as part of Arts in the Streets, the first full show in a major museum dealing with street art and its origins.
I believe that his work, even more than at the times of Reagan and Thatcher, is of great value today. More than any article in the newspaper, his work triggers our sense of individual responsibility and personal engagement. In this age of intense consumerism and harrowing economic collapse, where looming environmental problems have become more and more urgent, Fekner’s warning for decay is a bold reminder to a world that would just as soon forget it.