Basco5 —’Black Scorpion Gang’ exhibition at Vess
Canadian-born, Copenhagen-based artist Basco5 talks to me about his new collection of work based on the fictional branding a street gang
‘Black Scorpion Gang’
at Gallery Vess
February 24—March 10
Friday • February 24
February 21, 2017
As I was growing up, the traditional ideologies of the graffiti artist—“bombing” trains and tagging walls—were beginning to fizzle out and make room for other, more traditional, mediums. Traditional graffiti style began to open up to be more character driven and illustrative, with street artists like Barry McGee (A.K.A. Twist) and Coop began bringing more traditional tools like markers, paintbrushes, and pencils back to the party.
Art had escaped the confines of the gallery to seek shelter on the “anything goes” format of the streets, but then began making it’s way back into the galleries on its own terms. Artists that—prior to this shift—would not have been able to find work other than making gig posters for rock bands, where now having their doors knocked on by prominent galleries around the world.
Jump ahead to today, are there are so many different genres of art that have been directly influenced by street art and graffiti—Yarn Bombing, Urban Interventionism, Low Brow, Urban Rustic, Mission School to name a few of the many—that it becomes ridiculous when you start trying to describe an artist using those criteria.
When I first came in contact with the work of Canadian-born, Copenhagen-based artist Basco5, there was an instant recognition of a potential background as a street art or graffiti artist—even though there is nothing inherently “graffiti” about his work. Disregarding the artist pseudonym, which is the obvious giveaway for a history in street art, Basco5’s work has a specific character driven motif.
I find this “character motif” style similar to the way illustrators or caricature artists develop a unique and recognizable ways of drawing specific features—a nose too wide, a head too big, or a mix of fat and skinny linework. “Illustrative style” became the evolution of the graffiti “signature” meant for artistic recognition when seen on the streets, in the same way “illustrative style” defines a specific cartoonist or comic book artist. It’s easy to spot a Shepard Fairey or Neckface piece when walking by it, and the same could be said about the recognizable style of Basco5.
The once Vancouver-based artist has come a long way from his days of sticker bombing on the streets—7600km to be exact—and now works almost exclusively within the gallery circuit. I reached out to him about his recent collection of work Black Scorpion Gang to learn more about both his move from Vancouver to Copenhagen and his move from street to gallery.
How did you find the transition to CPH and building a new network?
It was a lonely transition at first, as you can imagine moving to a city in a new country could be. I found though that building a creative network a lot easier here. The public was more into finding new artists and I found I gained attention and contacts a lot quicker than I did in Vancouver.
Do you still maintain a connection to the Northwest?
All of my family and a bunch of old friends are there. I try and go back about once a year, but that’s mostly just to visit and relax. I don’t maintain any of the old creative networks, though. After 10 years things have changed quite a bit and many of the artists I knew have either stopped or moved away.
You work is very character driven, a style that is very distinct in West Coast, can you tell me about how you developed that style?
I think my style was a very slow process that just came out of drawing a lot. I always tried to draw what I liked, but set creative rules for myself about 12 years ago…..so everything from then until now has a Basco5 feel to it.
Were sticker art and graffiti a starting point for your work, or was it a natural medium for a pre-existing style that you had?
I think graffiti is what got me drawing and creating as a teen, so I owe a lot to it, it influenced my style in a way stickers didn’t. Street art came later and was more just taking my drawings and putting them up on the street, like an advert.
How has the transition been for you from street to gallery?
It’s been a really natural one as I did painting before I did street art. I’ve always loved doing shows and it’s nice to put stuff up that isn’t painted over or torn down.
Can you tell me a little bit about the upcoming exhibition Black Scorpion Gang?
The show’s concept is if a gang wanted me to do their logo and full brand design for them. So that is what I’m doing is creating logo’s, paintings, products and even coming up with their gang initiation. It’s secretly a project I’ve always wanted to do.
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