Post-Graffiti Pacific, an ism without the ism. Established in 2014 between two life-long graffiti friends and now contemporary artists Askew One and Benjamin Work, who found each other as youths tagging under a train track tunnel in 1990s Auckland. Over time, the line between Street Art and Graffiti has become blurred. The figurative nature of Street Art is its own thing in its own right but today, public perception has them as one and the same. Urban Contemporary has become the umbrella description of the “movement made up of artists working in the public arena and the studio, as both are intrinsically linked and feed off each other.” (- Nicholas Chenus for The Urban Contemporary Art Guide 2014). However, the need for the graffiti artist to pay homage to a life experience in time, that helped define and shape them into the contemporary artists that they are today, has become both frustrating and apparent.
Graffiti in this context, refers to the letters based sub-culture which emerged in late 1960’s New York, where fame was the game by getting up with your name. Trains, tagging, bombing & piecing, all terms associated with graffiti. Territories, beef, risk, cops, the life of a graffiti writer.
From New York to New Zealand, the migration of this edgy, controversial and exciting new sub-culture came pre-internet and via young Pacific people who visited the west coast of America and returned to the South Pacific with the knowledge and findings of graffiti. Word spread quick and soon enough, graffiti made its way into 1980s youth culture in the South Pacific. The power of the Pacific Ocean to connect two countries with a sub-culture is reminiscent of Polynesian migration throughout the Pacific.
Today, other local artists cut from the same graffiti cloth have taken on the term Post-Graffiti Pacific as a way of identifying who they are within the urban contemporary art world. Their introduction to art was via an American sub-culture but their continuation into their current contemporary practise in both their studio and outdoor works, is now informed by their region, the Pacific region.
Olivia Laita curates this Post-Graffiti Pacific exhibition which showcases the contemporary works of Benjamin Work, Berst, Brendan Kitto, Elliot Francis Stewart, Gary Silipa and Misery. Members from New Zealand’s world renowned graffiti crew TMD and who now, are practising, multi-disciplinary Post-Graffiti Pacific artists. After curating her first PGP show in Sydney at aMBUSH Gallery in 2015, Olivia and her artists share their art movement in the city that they call home and where it all began, Auckland. It is at these current times where the PGP artist pays homage to their risky beginnings for without these experiences, they would not be the artists with this unique point of difference in today’s urban contemporary art world.