NO MORE CREW
KALÁB / PASTA / ŠKAPA
A strong trio. Grew up together. Long-standing friendships. Shared experience. Rocket engines. Parallel beginnings. Trajectories that have diverged over time, but remain firmly connected, consecrated by the code of graffiti. The No More Crew brotherhood.
An exhibition built around the confrontation of its participants – a trio of friends, all distinct figures, and not only in terms of the Czech art scene. The mutual confrontation comes at no risk. Jan Kaláb, Pasta Oner and Michal Škapa are equals. What they share is tenacity, ambition, drive, vigor, audacity, humor, and every now and then also a wall, as well as mutual friends and their common age. What distinguishes them is their approach, form, tools, the venues of their solo exhibitions, the locations of their respective studios, and the number of their children.
With the soul of an architect, Jan Kaláb easily conquers the third dimension not only in his murals, but also in his canvases. He has grown to embrace the painter within, and although his forte is the creation of objects he has been chiseling away at geometric abstraction, discovering spaces interior and without, regardless of the clichéd expression “that’s been done.”
The same could be said of Pasta Oner. It is possible to cite the clearly visible sources of inspiration, identify the specific paraphrases. Yet one must also take into account the force and accuracy with which he mirrors the conservative Central European mindset. How spot-on is his commentary on the bad habits of consumerism, or the directness with which he tackles the large format through his short post-pop messages.
Michal Škapa, by contrast, works with the moment of replication, the multiplication of a graphic element, with a hand patently the descendant of an expert graffiti artist. His style is ornamental, rhythmic, abstract and concrete at the same time. He is the draughtsman of his canvases, the transmitter of symbols, creator of expansive mural-format comics with unsettling subject matter.
The exhibition No More Crew at Urban Spree Galerie presents a trio of disparate and yet splendidly and mutually complementary artists. Their work defies being simply the result of the overused epithet “drawing on street art”, and at the same time any confrontation with their work requires such a label. Space, place, city, symbol, sign. Something for everybody.
Michal Škapa (*1978) alias TRON belongs to the most expressive wave of Czech (Prague) writers with many achievements to his credit. He is engaged in countless graphic activities with the magazines “Free Magazine” and “Upstream”, ranging from festival visuals, books, CD covers for bands, web design, and the creation of original fonts, to the design of posters and invitations to arts events. His graphics projects of the recent period include Names Festival, Kick the Shit! Bitch!, OBR, the Thick-skinned Moviegoers’ Festival for the Aero Movie Theater, IFP, visuals for the Bigg Boss label, etc. In addition to computer graphics, who also produces drawings and airbrush works. He brings his vivid imagination to bear on graffiti and visual effects. Member of CAP, NUTS, DSK a TOYZ!
Pasta Oner is one of the most original figures on the Czech contemporary art scene. Ever a creative mind, Pasta Oner has, in the recent years and in keeping with his graffiti and street art roots which go back to the turn of the millenium, focused on asserting himself within the system of independent and publicly funded galleries. He weds pop-art to cartoon, transcending both categories.
Although he touches, at the core of his philosophy, on the principles of post-production, Pasta Oner stands apart from the current trend of post-conceptualism and blazes his trail in the Czech art world as a media-savvy and widely known, if slightly controversial artist.
The work of Pasta Oner presents an original, ironic commentary on contemporary popular culture. Pasta Oner’s traditional themes of obsession with money, sex, religion, luxury goods and the consumerist notions of beauty are translated into new contexts characterised by the technologisation of life, the increasing speed of information and the short attention-span aesthetics of today’s culture. It is into this world, of which Pasta – like all of us – is a part, that he brings his engaged art.
When Jan Kaláb was born in 1978 in Czechoslovakia, graffiti was not to be seen in the Eastern World. In the nineties, as the country was opening itself to western influences, he became one of the pioneer of the local scene, and founded an iconic crew, the DSK. Sleepless nights around train yards, light tubes at police stations and above all hard work on his style: he went through all the classical steps of a writer’s career. Through Europe, he made a name for himself as Cakes. Next step to the Hall of fame: New York, where he made a big impression by painting whole cars in 2000, alongside with Key and Rome. Around the same time, he found a new way to push his own limits and under the name Point, he sculpted and installed huge abstracts letters in the streets and on the walls. This was another form of graffiti, in daylight, and without a spray, but truthful to the spirit of competition and innovation of the urban scene. Those sculptures lead him to abstraction, a path he’s been exploring through canvas from 2007, using acrylic painting and brushes. In the meantime, this admirer of Kupka graduated from the Academy of fine Arts of Prague – becoming the first Czech writer to do so.
Jan Kaláb had his first solo exhibition in 2008 in Prague. Others solos took place in Romania, Argentina, Germany or in the United States.
Škapa, Kaláb and Pasta often exhibited together (for example: 2009 –Storage, Prague, The Chemistry Gallery, 2011 – Boutique, Prague, The Chemistry Gallery, 2011 – Can You Dig It?, Brussels/Belgium, Pragues House) and they organised shows or met many times together at group shows (2008 – City Celebrities, Brno, Moravská galerie in Brno, 2008 – Names (streetart festival), Prague, Trafacka, 2010 – Metropolis, Shanghai/China, EXPO 2010, Czech pavilion, 2010 – Corners, Shanghai, Beijing/China, Source, 2010 – Metropolis, Prague, DOX, 2012 – Possessed by the City, Prague, Galerie hlavního města Prahy – Městská knihovna).
No More Crew
A solo group show by Jan Kaláb, Pasta Oner and Michal Škapa
Opening Reception on Thursday, May 18th at 18:30
Exhibition: May 19th to June 11th,
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