If you’ve seen Banksy’s (possible) documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop, you may have believed, as I did, that street art has become a bit post-modern before its time. Since we’ve lived in caves people have thrown writing up on walls, but street art as we know it (and graffiti as some call it) reached new heights with artists like Banksy, Swoon and Shepard Fairey. However, there’s been rumblings that perhaps the mainstreaming of graffiti and street art has weakened its power to be subversive, a point well highlighted in Banksy’s film: a strange man, Thierry Guetta, decides one day to become a street artist, has his often vaguely described installations constructed by other people, and is embraced by the L.A. art scene. It was a sad picture, and though there is still a question as to whether the plot of the film was a set-up, it was a powerful statement on the direction of the movement.
But then you have someone like Thank You X, and feel that maybe all of that business about commercialization killing the heart of street art is more nonsense than truth. His pieces grace the homes of the likes of Demi Moore, Danny Masterson and Juno Temple, as well as some walls of dizzying heights in Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Chicago, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Miami and San Francisco. He was hired by The Bing Bar to design and paint its interior for the Sundance Film Festival in 2011, and they’ve taken him on for next year as well. And his pieces are on exhibit at the Lab Art Gallery in Los Angeles. Which is not so bad for a guy who has been plugging away as a graphic designer and plastering the country in posters for years.
Thank You X’s pieces range from painterly to paste-up, and belie the destructive-to-be-constructive tilt of wall art in recent years. It is less heavy on obvious social commentary than the work of Banksy or Fairey but it has substance, and significantly more so than the sweeping neon balloons of last century’s graffitti.
It’s only appropriate that Thank You X draws on the figure of Andy Warhol for his signature pieces. “The Thank You Andy series is simply a ‘thank you’ to Andy Warhol for inspiring me (as well as so many artists). He broke down the walls of the art world and made it clear that there were NO RULES when it comes to art.” Warhol has inspired many a street artist (including the possibly manufactured Mr. Brainwash), but Thank You X’s connection with the father of a lot of modern rule breakers seems to run a bit deeper. He certainly does his own work, for one, but he also revels in one of the core joys of making street art for famous stencilers and occasional spray-can wielders alike: the danger.
“I prefer putting art high above everyone else. I just like climbing things… I want people to wonder how I did it.”
Cliché is conducting a contest with Thank You X to give out an original print! Check out all of the details by visiting the Cliché Facebook Page and enter to win!