V1 Gallery in Copenhagen is currently hosting a two men show featuring Barry McGee and Todd James. Ever since they created “Street Market” together with Steve Powers at New York City’s Deitch Projects in 2000, the two have exhibited together several times. Among others, they exhibited at the 2001 Venice Biennale, 2004 “Beautiful Losers” group exhibition, and the L.A. MOCA “Art in the Streets” in 2011. V1 Gallery has been supporting both artists through that entire time, and “FUD” is their second double-show with the gallery.
The title of the show is borrowed from a random word that James has been using in his comics. Though it sounds like an acronym, or even a name of a graffiti crew, the closest explanation would be the sound of something heavy dropping on the ground. This non-serious and fun-loving approach to exhibiting art is what both artists are known for. Though coming from opposite sides from US, they are both having strong connections with graffiti culture and the life on the streets. While McGee is still active in that field, James is more focused on his art and numerous side projects he’s been working on. The idea of both artists was to organize, or disorganize a collaborative installation showing their distinct, bold and iconic visual languages. This resulted in a sort of visual punk created with works that understand and celebrate the outsiders and marginal characters, but also criticize consumerism culture.
Using found objects, old surfboards, vintage TV, broken safe box, Barry McGee is pointing at the beauty in anarchy and autonomy. Though showing at museums and being exhibited at major art events worldwide, the works have this human, imperfect feel to them which adds to their beauty. By mixing and juxtaposing geometrical patterns and shapes against his recognizable characters, the pieces always carry an unmistakable, playful feel to them. The pieces, interventions and installations prepared for this show are no exception to that.
Though significantly different, the aesthetics of Todd James’ works are also highly recognizable. Through the years of writing graffiti, drawing cartoons, painting, sketching, designing puppets, animations, etc, the NY-based artist created a minimalist visual language through which he is showing his vision of the world. Using bright primary colors, raw shapes and hardly any outlines, his paintings feel very atmospheric and often engaged. For this particular show, he painted couple of works that are showing female characters enjoying a leisure lifestyle, often incorporating some fantasy elements in them. The main piece he painted for FUD is a totem-like, almost abstract painting inspired by the late NYC legend, Rammellzee.
Along with works by these two artists, the gallery is showing a small and intimate group show of their friends, including Khashayar, Magnus Vind, Ebitso, Julien Couic, Alicia McCarthy, Pablo Pinho and Derek Marshall.