NEW YORK—The “POW” in Shepard Fairey‘s striking six-color print pays tribute to Roy Lichtenstein’s legendary use of the phrase in his Pop art. Fairey reinvents the reference pairing the word “Power” with a spray-painting hand grenade. A second print with a vintage fruit label aesthetic features “fruit” hand-grenades. The artist says the images reference the military industrial complex.
Pace Prints is showing work by Fairey for the first time. “Shepard Fairey: Harmony & Discord” explores social issues in a series of new works—including “silkscreens done with collage and spraypaint, as well as handmade paper, embossment and relief prints, and large metal plates with screenprint.” The Los Angeles-based artist spent time in New York from July 2011 to February 2012 creating the prints in Pace’s Brooklyn studio. The facility allowed him to make the largest screen prints he has ever produced (more than 56 inches in height)—his own studio lacks the necessary equipment to print at such a scale.
Known for his street art, Fairey became widely recognized when he created a poster of Barack Obama for his 2008 presidential campaign. While in New York preparing for the show, he also pasted up work on surfaces around the city and, for the exhibit, installed tiled murals composed of several small prints in the gallery’s windows which are visible from the High Line. (Watch a video about the murals at Pace.)
The prints in the exhibit explore issues of “war and peace, political corruption, global warming, and personal empowerment and responsibility.” In a video about the prints, Fairey explains his approach to the series and to his work overall: “I want the imagery to be accessible enough to invite people to look at the layers of meaning. And especially since a lot of my work is not intended for an art savvy audience, the idea of immediate interest and relatability is really important and a visual language that’s not alienating.”
“Haromony & Discord” is on view from May 5 to June 16, 2012.
All photos by Arts Observer
Above, From left, “Rise Above Rebel (Plate),” “Global Target (Plate),” “Kiss Me Deadly (Plate),” and “Harmony (Plate),” all four 2012 (hand-rubbed, rolled and transferred ink on photo-etched magnesium plates, editions of 5); and “POWER,” 2012 (silkscreen in four colors, edition of 50) and “Imperial Glory,” 2012 (silkscreen in six colors, edition of 50).
Clockwise from top left, “CORPORATE VIOLENCE FOR SALE,” “IT’S MOURNING IN AMERICA,” “LEGISLATIVE INFLUENCE FOR SALE,” and “TOP-ELITE FASCHIONS FOR SALE,” all four 2012 (relief prints with stenciled pigment and paper pulp, variable editions of 10). At right, “Rise Above Rebel, HPM” 2012 (two-color relief on hand-painted material).
From left, “Rise Above Rebel, HPM,” hand-painted multiple featuring dove, “Global Target, HPM,” “Dove Target Black, HPM,” “Arab Woman,” “Dove Target Red, HPM” all 2012 (two-color relief on hand-painted material, edition of 5)
From left, “Rise Above Rebel (Plate),” “Global Target (Plate),” “Kiss Me Deadly (Plate),” and “Harmony (Plate),” all four 2012 (hand-rubbed, rolled and transferred ink on photo-etched magnesium plates, editions of 5).
From left, “Kiss Me Deadly,” and “Harmony (Plate),” both 2012 (hand-rubbed, rolled and transferred ink on photo-etched magnesium plates, editions of 5). Fairey began to meditate a couple of year ago which inspired this print. Learn more about the image here.