Hashimoto Contemporary is pleased to present a two person show featuring new works by San Francisco-based painter Jessica Hess and anonymous graffiti/street artist GATS. Expressed through a blend of classical and contemporary methods, this month’s exhibition explores graffiti and street art’s influence on the Bay Area landscape through both a fine art and street level perspective.
In both observation and celebration of graffiti’s evolution within the local scenery, Hess’s photorealist oil paintings meticulously capture graffiti’s vibrant interruption amongst urban life. Combining traditional and formal technique with contemporary subject matter, her focus lies within the structure, decay and subtle details of each location. Her large-scale canvases isolate various graffiti-laden structures or spaces, while some of her smaller works pinpoint the delicate imperfections of spray paint and abstraction. Her paintings have become a way to encapsulate and preserve the often fleeting and ever-changing urban landscape, immortalizing each mark long after the walls have worn.
Oakland, CA-based street artist GATS (an acronym for “graffiti against the system”) is an international graffiti legend, creating outdoor art in places that reach as far as Palestine, the Philippines and Rome. Known for the iconic mask seen predominately throughout the artist’s work, the face of GATS can often be spotted peering out from an alley way or stretched across a rooftop, greeting passerby's with it’s all-seeing gaze. Representing a sense of duality, GATS’s iconic totem has filled with intricate insignia over the years, speaking to the artist’s personal reflections. As GATS mentioned in an interview with Hashimoto Contemporary, “Over time the mask has filled up with more names, tears, cracks and other symbols.I'm not a religious person so this mask has become the ritual that I meditate on. The cryptic names that decorate the mask remind me to appreciate people in my life and those I respect. Every tear is to remember a specific individual who was murdered by the police. The mask becomes more and more cracked as it ages. It's falling away as I lose attachment to the idea of a normal life and start to question which one is actually my alter ego.”
For this month’s exhibition, GATS will be bringing his iconic symbology to the white walls of the gallery in harmony with the brilliance of Hess’s fine art landscapes. Their work will span across a variety of surfaces, from vast large- scale canvases and sculptural painted masks to aerosol adorned remnants of the urban landscape. Together, the artists bridge their two different voices, creating a fresh and vivid look at the world around us.