"From a Tag to an Artwork", A Group Show Curated by Tania di Brita at Kolly Gallery Zurich

Tania di Brita, Kolly Gallery’s pleasant and genial assistant, whom, I knew only so little of, where our only means of connection were mere emails of updates and upcoming shows and as far as I know, she is Julien Kolly’s right-hand, his trustworthy and hardworking ‘sous’. Now that her master’s degree has come to fruition, she is announcing that it’s about time to level-up and show-off her curatorial ability. Oh, sure, one might torture into thinking that art curating must seem like a no-brainer job but actually, people go to school for it. A graduate or a doctoral degree in art history is, in fact, a must. And like physicians, they too must have a specialization of a period in art: western, asian, greek, renaissance, contemporary, baroque, medieval, 19th century, 18th century — you get the idea.

“From Tag to An Artwork” will be Tania’s first curated art exhibition; her thesis. It will feature five selected graffiti artists that Kolly Gallery has, well, represented over the years. The show lives off the premise that graffiti, at this point in history; the complicit acts of illicit writings on walls, are now recognized and have penetrated through the spanking new and impeccably, spotless white walls of an art gallery and has now become institutionalized.

Read on this short interview as she explains the process of curating this, hopefully, promising show.

Interview by Mark Changco.
Photos provided by Tania di Brita.

JonOne, "From Cali to Mexico"

Can you describe the path how this first curated show of yours came about?

I first discovered interventions in the streets of UK in 2008. This is when my interest and awareness rose to discover more and more beauty in the streets with graffiti, tags and other interventions. Later on, I began studying art history at the University of Zurich.

From my master thesis, I researched aesthetics of production and institutionalization of graffiti. Parallel to my studies, I worked at Kolly Gallery since 2014, and it seemed the perfect match to realize my master thesis within a curated exhibition. Thanks to the generosity of Julien Kolly, I was able to connect academically, as well as, the practicality and commercial working fields.

What was the most difficult thing to do during the process?

As the process of curating is a very passionate one, there are no difficult or easy tasks. Therefore, I would like to think in challenges, rather than difficulties. In the end every small step merges to one or more amazing results.

Looking from an academic perspective, the first research is always the intense part, when you finally decide which field you want to dive in. On the practical side, you have milestones or challenges that you take up on your way. Milestone by milestone you get to that final result. The idealistic and theoretical vision in mind needs to always be adapted to the practical realization. What I always learn from anew is that “nothing is perfect“ and “appreciate things as they are”, especially in the artistic field, where each piece has its unique character.

I think merging the academic as wells as the practical worlds is always a quite challenging thing.

How did you pick five graffiti artists? Why?

The participating artists are: John Crash’ Matos, JonOne, MOSES & TAPS, Thierry Furger and Tilt. These artists all share a common root – graffiti. They developed their creative concepts from traditional graffiti writing. Their works, however, differ in their aesthetics of production and form, thus their works of art represent a unique, as well as, diversified image of Graffiti Art. The exhibition aims to show that the institutionalization of graffiti evoked a shift in its formal and conceptual elements. In my research so far, I remarked an aestheticization and abstraction process that took place from the streets into the institutions. The title also intends to demonstrate the development of simple tags in the streets to works of art in a gallery, created by the same artists. The choice of the words ‘tag‘ and ‘artwork‘ should further emphasize this relation.

I picked exactly these artist because they match the thesis. On the other hand, I believe that they all posses qualitative skills, conceptual strengths and the necessary innovative ideas in order to gain a sustainable career on the art market. An art gallery’s aim is to sell the pieces of art and offer the artists the platform to show their long-standing skills. Also, I wanted to show a great variety of artworks, that’s why I choose very different artists with different backgrounds.

I could go on and on about these five artists because I really think they have potential. John ‘Crash‘ Matos conquered the early graffiti art scene in New York and shows the exemplary shift from the streets to the galleries. JonOne has this “abstract expressionist” graffiti style, which is absolutely distinct. The most avant-garde and misfit from the graffiti scene, are most definitely MOSES & TAPS. Thierry Fürger is an excellent observer and researcher of graffiti himself. Last but not least, Tilt is the epitome of a “graffiti fetishist”.

You will find a very close description of these individual characteristics once my master thesis is done and publicly available.

Will there be a surprise element for the show? A collaborative piece, perhaps?

There is no collaboration. But regarding the curatorial concept, it includes that the works of art initiate a dialogue within the exhibition space. Although they have their unique styles, interestingly the exhibited pieces have some sort of parallels and analogies. I would like to leave this part rather to the beholder.

Nevertheless, I would love to see how a collaboration of these artist in the streets would look like! Maybe a possible second part of this research would be, to take everything back to the urban space?

Crash, Silver Color Swatch
Thierry Furger, Just Clouds
Moses and Taps, Splashes

“From a Tag to an Artwork” will open on July 20, 2017 and will continue to run until August 12, 2017. For more information about the works, email: tania@kollygallery.com

Kolly Gallery
Seefeldstrasse 56
8008, Zürich

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