While visiting Hungary in August 2019 and painting at the local Meeting of Styles, I also had an exhibition there. My first one outside Finland. It took place at All Caps Store, Budapest.
My ”real” pieces are known for their happy, bright colors and multiple use of gradients and colour combinations. But where graffiti is relatively large and usually painted from start to finish in one sitting, my canvases have become just the opposite: during the last five years I’ve dropped the colours to minimum and reduced the size of my paintings. Yet the time used per painting keeps on growing as I focus on every little detail.
Sometimes I like to think the black and white works of mine represent the Nordic Noir of graffiti. After all they are rather dark in nature and the obvious: both the art and myself come from the nordic environment. So the name felt very suitable for the event.
Even though most of the works are somewhat dark and high contrast, few selected paintings also have more joyful “agenda”: they are humble “tip of the hat”‘s to old school graffiti of New York City. You see, my first encounter with graffiti was in 1985 when I got the “Come Out And Play” album from Twisted Sister. The back cover of the album had a large photo where the band stood in front of a wall which was covered in graffiti. It was a commission painting painted solely for the band by Subterranea Crew. It consisted of bands name as well as the artist names, all written in different styles. I didn’t start painting graffiti back then (I was only 10 years old at the moment) but the image stuck in my mind – permanently. I did return to it four, five years later when I started to practice graffiti. The paintings on the album cover have many elements which I still keep using in my paintings, sometimes directly, but mostly altering ’em a bit. Sure, they are part of larger thematics which all graffiti writers use, but I know I got my influence from this album first and only after that from “Spraycan Art” and “Subway Art” books. So for about ten paintings I’ve done this year I added many small texts that look a lot like the texts in the said album cover. Intentionally.
Having an exhibition in Budapest took some time and few lucky strikes (as in luck, not the cigarette) ’til it grew from an idea to an actual plan. As usual, one thing led to another. First I met Fat Heat and Trans One in Finland while they participated in the Street Art District project at Pasila. The very same project where I painted as well. Both of these artists are from All Caps collective and the store in Budapest is run by Trans One and his colleagues. About the same time I was applying for an artist residency in Budapest and I wanted to go there the same time when Meeting of Styles took place. Once I told about this to Trans One, he told me that they actually are the ones organising the event in Budapest. So he encouraged me to apply for the event if I was accepted into the artist residency programme. I also asked him if he’d know any good places to have a small exhibition in and… Well, you can probably connect the dots from here?
First encounter with Budapest took place four months prior our visit. Finnagora foundation, which I approached immediately I was accepted in the artist residency, pulled a few strings and got me involved in the RapCirkusz festival at Budapest park. I participated in the event with bunch of cool local graffiti writers and afterwards kept in touch with one of ’em, mr. Upik One. During that brief visit I also went to All Caps Store the first time. Right there and then the place for the exhibition was finally decided.
Arts Promotion Centre Finland provided a grant to cover my travel and accommodation costs for my residency stay and the exhibition related to it.