John "CRASH" Matos
Exhibition from January 30th to March 3rd 2010
Opening on Saturday, January 30th 2010 18:00 - 21:00
John CRASH Matos is one of the pioneers of Street Art. Born in the Bronx in 1961, he started developing his style on the trains of New York at the age of 13. As all graffiti artists, he needed to spread his blaze: CRASH as far as possible. This "underground" art has acquired recognition in the art world when CRASH abandoned walls and trains to exhibit at Sidney Janis Gallery and at Real Art Ways, next to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. The Post graffiti was born: graffiti had travelled from trains to galleries.
In 1978, CRASH began working on canvas. He found in the workshop the time he didn’t have in the street. He could now express himself freely. His more personal paintings remind at this point abstract expressionism. However, as in his earlier works, the same feeling of violence emerges. This fast, powerful and lively-coloured painting is influenced by pop artists such as Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, Richter, Wesselman and Jones. In 1980, CRASH signed his last graffiti in the street and organised at the Fashion Moda "Graffiti Art Success", the first significant exhibition where, for the first time, Street Art is taken seriously by both the public and critics. The use of spray won general acclaim. Crash became the major and prolific pioneer of Post-graffiti. To him, indeed, an artist must paint every day, without interruption.
CRASH managed to impose the authenticity of his style, stemming from the hip-hop culture, to the world of art, even in the most important museums such as MOMA in New York or the Museum of Groningen in the Netherlands. He was one of the first to add the 3D representation to lettering: fragments of face, eyes mingling with the letters of his name. His style is at the origin of a whole graphic expression that continues to inspire young graffiti artists, without being equaled. Perhaps this influence is due to the faithfulness of this precursor to his early inspirations?
Back to the origins
CRASH has become an icon, but he does not forget his beginnings near the subway trains. For his new exhibition, he takes up with his origins and returns to the spirit of the street to rediscover the emotions he experienced when he was hiding to paint in the warehouses. Always in aerosol spray, he paints directly on pieces of metal and works his canvases as he would with a train, using pictorial effects evoking metal nails and separations of cars. He restores those moments that can only be understood by the people who pace up and down dark tunnels, armed with spray. Finding the initial feelings of contact with the mater is a way for the mature artist to pay tribute to graffiti and to this profuse root of an art he has created. For the first time a King (the one that his crew recognizes as the most talented) comes back with nostalgia on the atmosphere of his early period. This exhibition expresses the artist's need of showing his faithfulness to the inspiring revolt that allowed him to introduce the art of graffiti. History looks regularly back into its foundation and this is why ADDICT Galerie considered exploring the source of this movement essential in order to recapture its essence.
Graffiti is an ephemeral art. CRASH’s first urban paintings have now disappeared but the artist has protected their memory by photographing them. ADDICT Galerie displays these photographs (now considered as works of art) next to the canvases. They are the witnesses of bygone days, of an art movement destroyed by the zealous MTA, and its repressive cleaning firm in New York. These photographs show the last traces of a rebelled graffiti, of this spontaneous expression of artists in the Bronx that travelled by subway to the heart of Manhattan. These pictures also show how CRASH keeps improving his lettering and contributes to the progression of graffiti by allowing it to establish a link between "the street life and conventional society".
ADDICT Galerie, with this exhibition from January 30th to March 4th 2010, replies to all Street-Art detractors who are still wondering how legitimate “imprisoning" the graffiti in a confined space can be. It proclaims that this movement is definitely the most revolutionary of the late twentieth century. Moreover, John CRASH Matos, who was rapidly recognised by traditional circles, never had to question himself about these now obsolete thoughts. Supporting the emerging movements and Street Art since its beginning, ADDICT Galerie takes over from New York galleries of the eighties, such as the Fun Gallery, Razor Galley and Sidney Janis, which allowed graffiti to be recognised.