Yesterday, we stopped by Leila Heller Gallery before the opening reception of CALLIGFRATTI 1984-2013, a redux of the landmark exhibition that Jeffrey Deitch and Leila Heller curated in 1984 and Deitch’s first New York show in awhile.
The exhibition focuses on the relationship between graffiti and calligraphy, as found in the works of nearly fifty artists: Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and others. Deitch clarified that while this show is a follow-up to his previous exhibition, it incorporates the emergency of new aesthetically related works inspired by the Arab Spring and popular social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram, adding a specific resonance that was nonexistent during the early eighties.
Installations continued up until the beginning of the reception, with last minute paint-ups still happening as the crowd coming in. At first, we thought that Ayad Alkadhi’s Hear My Words (2013) was hung upside down in haste, but after consulting an Arabic-speaker, seems like that’s just a catalog error.
See photos of the works without the clutter of a crowded reception in the gallery above.
This show makes connections between pivotal artistic movements across cultures that have informed each other’s creative processes. Just as the graffiti movement emerged from the economic and social turmoil of the 1970s in New York, it is now no surprise that some of the most groundbreaking street art is burgeoning all across the Middle East. Calligraphy as an art form is part of a Middle Eastern collective memory and as it continues to evolve, we are now witnessing a kinetic dialogue between these movements that will no doubt leave their mark on history.
“Calligraffiti: 1984-2013,” Group Show, Sep 5 – Oct 5, Leila Heller Gallery, Manhattan