Basco5 exhibition

Basco5 'Black Scorpion Gang'

With live scorpions, back patches and the deadliest tequila, the Basco5 'Black Scorpion Gang' exhibition at Vess did not disappoint

Published: August 29, 2017Words: Nils Blishen & J.Scott StrattonArtist Link:

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 opened up to be more 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 was now 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, are 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 or have a connection to the simple days of needing nothing but a spray can and wall—Yarn Bombing, Urban Interventionism, Low Brow, Urban Rustic, Mission School to name a few of the many—that it becomes rather 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 give-away for a history in street art, Basco5’s work has a specific character driven motif.

I find this motif similar to the way illustrators or caricature artists develop a specific and recognizable way of drawing specific features—a nose too wide, a head too big, a mix of fat and skinny linework. Illustrative style became the evolution of the signature meant for artistic recognition when seen on the streets. It’s easy to spot a Shepard Fairey or Neckface piece when walking by it, and the same could be said about the recognisable style of Basco5.

The once Vancouver based artist has come along 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.

Basco5 exhibition

How did you find the transition to CPH and building a new network?

It was a lonely transition at first, as you can imaging 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 network, after 10 years things have changed quite a bit and many of the artist I knew have either stopped or moved away.

You work is very character driven, a style that is very distinct in West Coast America/Canada, 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… everything from then til now has a Basco5 feel to it.

Was 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.