Known for their imaginative and expansive urban murals, Polish street art duo Etam Cru (HF Vol. 32), made up of individual artists Sainer and Bezt, has crossed over into the exhibition scene. Usually working together on blank walls as tall as ten stories with cherry pickers, scaffolding, and paint-rollers, the works currently on display at Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles are smaller but no less ambitious; on their own canvases, Sainer and Bezt reveal the nuances of their own styles that blend together so seamlessly in their murals. While the artists themselves have noted that Sainer’s style is more photo-realistic while Bezt focuses on the cartoonish, “graffiti” aspects of their collaborations, both artists cross over into the other’s territory with ease and skill in their exhibition “Galimatias”.
The artists began collaborating after meeting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz, Poland, because they felt inspired by the same kinds of imagery and themes. This resonance between the pair becomes abundantly clear looking at their subject matter: both artists portray melancholic figures in scenes that intertwine graphic fantasy with familiar domesticity. The show’s title translates to “nonsense” in French, but underneath the playful and surreal imagery is a poignant depth that goes beyond simple nonsense. The pair are staunchly against ascribing symbolic meaning to their works and prefer to let their renowned and unique aesthetics speak for themselves: Sainer explains, “I’m a painter, not a storyteller.”
Etam Cru came to the United States for the first time in 2013, when they erected “Moonshine” as part of the Richmond Mural Project in Richmond, Virginia. The mural was hailed as one of the best pieces of street art in 2013. In tandem with their exhibition, Etam Cru will be composing one of their signature pieces on a six-story façade in Downtown LA.
“Galimatias” opened at the Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City on December 12th and will be on view through January 16, 2016.
Opening night photos by Mik Luxon.