STEVE POWERS, The Many Moods of Steve Espo Powers
Opening 20 April 2022 h 7 p.m., Via Argelati n° 24, 20143 Milano (MI)
Until 22 July 2022
Galleria Patricia Armocida is pleased to announce “The Many Moods of Steve ESPO Powers”, Stephen Powers’ second solo show at the gallery, opening on Wednesday, April 20th at 7:00 p.m.
The show consists of medium and large enamel on aluminum works, gouaches on paper, and two site-specific light installations.
Steve Powers’ works merge words and images painted on aluminum and graphics that are reminiscent of signage and hand-painted signs. Incisive and bold, they visually represent the essence of the artist’s daily life. They describe the trials and tribulations of modern life: love, hate, frustration, desire, insecurity, rage, and the struggle for human existence.
With the use of witty wordplays, his messages are a mass of dense references and intuitions regarding our emotional concerns. Freeform poems made up of snippets similar to advertising copy in an era where computers dominate the worlds of signage, art, and communication.
Joseph Becker, curator of the “Stephen ESPO Powers: Daymaker” show at SFMOMA, writes: “His work riffs off our emoticon-driven culture and his lyrical witticisms capture our collective unease with the rapidity- and often vapidity- of instantaneous communication. Powers reminds us of the importance of human connection, the inevitability of time, and the way we craft and re-craft our own personal narratives”.
In fact, the artist, in describing the self-portraits that are part of his new body of work, says: “My barber has been taking photos of my haircuts for the last few years, and so the large portraits are my version of barbershop portraits. I painted the portraits looking at my phone, my weekly report says I’m using the phone about 12 hours a day, so actually using it to paint a picture feels absolutely spiritual compared to looking at social media”.
In “The Many Moods of Steve ESPO Powers”, words and pictures form visual riffs, visual riffs connect with each other to make poetry, and the poetry combines with pictures to make what the artist calls “visual blues”. As he himself states: “Ask me to make paintings in these days of chaos and this is what you get; self-portraits because I am present, words because they are wanted, and love because it is needed”.
Stephen Powers (Philadelphia, 1968) has lived and worked in New York since 1994, where he quickly gained visibility as the publisher of On the Go magazine and as the author of various books: The Art of Getting Over, First and Fifteenth, and Studio Gangster.
In 1997, under the acronym ESPO (Exterior Surface Painting Outreach), he set off on an ambitious graffiti mission, painting dozens of storefront gates in New York with big block letters. From the mid ‘80s and on, his work blurred the lines between illegal and legal, creating graffiti that looked like real advertisements or painting abandoned storefronts in broad daylight.
His work, under the moniker ESPO, not only gave him notoriety in the graffiti world, but also in the world of modern art. Since 2000, Powers’ works have been in major galleries like Deitch Projects of New York City and in 2001, he partook in the 49th Venice Biennale with a massive installation called “Street Market”, together with Todd James and Barry McGee.
In recent years, Steve Powers’ work has been in prestigious international museums such as: SFMOMA in San Francisco; Brooklyn Museum in New York; MOCA in Los Angeles; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow; Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati; Yerba Buena Art Center in San Francisco; Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach; the Triennial in Milan; MACRO in Rome; Pavilion of Brazilian Cultures in São Paulo; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia; Liverpool Biennial; City Art Center in Dublin. His work is part of the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum Of Art.
Some solo shows: Daymaker, SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA, US 2020; Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull), site-specific installation curated by Sharon Matt Atkins, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York City, NY, US 2016; Today is already tomorrow, Target Gallery, Alexandria, VA, US, 2014; Visual Blues, Alice Gallery, Brussels, Belgium, 2013; A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York City, NY, US, 2012; Days, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2011; Separating Light From Dark, Patricia Armocida Gallery, Milan, Italy, 2008; Signarama, Deitch Projects at Art Basel, Miami, FL, USA, 2008; Sleep and Repeat, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2007; The Magic World, The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, US 2007; ESPO Bakery, Deitch Projects, The Armory Show, New York, NY, US, 2005; My List Of Demands, Deitch Projects, New York, NY, US, 2004. Street Market (with Barry McGee and Todd James), 49th Venice Art Biennial, Venice, Italy, 2001; Street Market (with Barry McGee and Todd James), Deitch Projects, New York City, NY, US, 2000.
Some group shows: Beyond the Streets on Paper, Southampton Arts Center, Southampton, NY, US, 2021; Dismaland, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, UK, 2015; Your Favorite Artist, Joshua Liner, New York City, NY, US, 2014; This Music Crept by Me Upon the Waters…, Lesley Heller, New York City, NY, US, 2014; Most Oddinism, Topsafe London, The Rotunda, Miami, FL, US, 2013; Art in the Streets, The Geffen Contemporary, MOCA, Los Angeles, CA, US, 2011; New York Minute: 16 artists on the New York scene, curated by Kathy Grayson, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia, 2011; New York Minute: 16 artists on the New York scene, curated by Kathy Grayson, MACRO Museum, Rome, Italy, 2009; Lots Of Things Like This, curated by Dave Eggers, Apex Art, New York, NY, USA, 2007; Beautiful Losers, Art Center, curated by Christian Strike and Aaron Rose, Cincinnati, OH, US (exhibition traveled to Yerba Buena Art Center, San Francisco, CA; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; The Triennial, Milan, Italy), 2004 - 2006; Le Tri Postal, Lille, France, 2004; Waylon Saul, Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UK, 2002.
Special projects: I WANT TO THANK YOU for World AIDS day, at Pier 40, New York City, NY, US, 2019; Love letter to Baltimore, Baltimore, MD, US 2014; Love letter to Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY, US 2011; Love letter to Syracuse, Syracuse, NY, US 2010; Love Letter for You, Philadelphia, PA, US 2009; Waterboard Thrill Ride, part of Creative Time's Democracy In America Exhibition, Coney Island, NY, US, 2008; Dreamland Artist Club, co-curated and participated in this project with 40 other artists painting the signs of Coney Island, New York, US, 2004; Indelible Market, with Barry McGee and Todd James, curated by Alex Baker, Institute Of Contemporary Art, University Of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, US, 2000