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'TRU AF' Art Show Exposes Truth in the Aesthetics of Vandalism

From graffiti to cave drawings, artist Andrew Birk's paintings are fine art tags.

Mexico City-based artist Andrew Birk's works on canvas are homages to DIY decisions and naïve gestures. From spray-painted spirals to poxy canvases depicting Mexico City graffiti, Birk’s paintings are colorfully soft but imbued with meaning culled from fast internet culture. His latest show titled TRU AF at the Johannes Vogt Gallery in Chelsea uses the space to remark on fine art tropes and turn them on their heads.

“I mostly gravitate towards the naïve gesture, whether it be the way you patched the hole in your knee, how you repainted your car after a crash, or how you caulk your bathtub to prevent future leaks. Not everyone has the luxury to be sitting around pondering aesthetics on the lofty peaks of high culture, but people do want to repaint their fucked up car bumpers or duct tape a rip in their winter jacket. These are the kinds of decisions I notice,” Birk tells The Creators Project.

The artist statement for the TRU AF show was a list of about 89 items listed in caps like “AUTOREPAIR, MIXTAPES, DUST, BEING OK W THAT, I WAS WALKING.” Birk calls it transient, opaque press prelease poetry to “be straightforward about what I was looking at and thinking about. I like the idea that you can walk through the show with that list and site references, it talks about honesty instead of illusion.”  

The show is full of paintings but has collaged elements smattered along the walls that distort the vision of a pristine gallery space. The gallery looks vandalized in a cheerful way. There are sprayed black dots speckled through out the room seemingly haphazardly. Says Birk, “The black dots I’ve sprayed everywhere are direct references to French cave painting. I was thinking ‘what if the caves were just a typical social space where normal cotillion rituals like vandalization occurred?'”

Birk has been collecting images of naïve paintings for years on his "hashtagpainting" Tumblr. His paintings are in conversation with the rhythms of this kind of painting: graffiti in the streets, tags on a wall, a handprint in a cave. The visceral and quick acknowledgement that painting can present an individual experience to the world like pen to paper.

TRU AF can then be a painted preface informed by subcultures online and in real life while merging the art world with the vernacular one. “Anyone who knows me knows that I’m online 24/7/365. I wanted this show to be TRU to me and where I am right now AF. No frills, just straight from the gut.” 

Check out more about the artist here.

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