Smash137 /   Adrian Falkner

Switzerland 1979

Urban Art, Graffiti, Abstract Art

Adrian Falkner
April 24, 2014
Jean is researcher and author for Widewalls.

Smash137 is a Swiss street artist, best known for his use of letters and typography in works.

Smash137, a 11 years old Graffiti Writer

Adrian Falkner aka Smash137 was born in Basel, Switzerland. In 1990, when he was only 11 years old, Smash137 discovered spray cans and painted his first wall. The Museum of Fine Arts in his hometown Basel, recognized his talent almost immediately and invited him to show his work – so, in 1997, Smash137’s first exhibition was held under the name A walk on the wild side.
Smash137 grew up mimicking and learning from a culture that he admired and connected with; he was drafted by the possession and love for the western calligraphy, so he became one of the most active writers in the world. Soon, his lettering adorned a lot of objects on public spaces with his signature with style and precision.

Dissolving the Letters

In 2006 Smash137’s work evolved out of the street and into the studio where the walls became his canvas. So, somewhere during the last decade, Falkner officially became a contemporary artist, expanding his graffiti-activities while establishing and creating an identity. Smash137 is renowned for his unique, super fresh letter styles and color combinations that are constantly changing and evolving. Today, he has dissolved his letters completely.
“The letters that I used as a formal scaffold for a long time made room for abstract painting. Graffiti to me is all about how I write, not about what I write – and that’s what fascinates me about painting too.”
For Smash137, abstract art is all about how it is made and not about what it depicts. Following that instinct, his work has been transferred from a Graffiti based calligraphic- writing-style to a style of colorful painting using the form of single letters as powerful signs. His large scale paintings can be situated in the field of abstract or informal art. Falkner showed the first works that are truly free from a script-like pattern in Saarbrücken at the end of 2014 – the forms and strokes are dissolved to such an extent that his works are by now simply about color and gesture. That transformation or, better said, evolution, took him seven, maybe even 25 years, Falkner says.

Explosive Colors and Vivid Lines

Daniel Richter and Albert Oehlen are painters Smash137 appreciates a lot. Oehlen owns that admiration partly for stating that he doesn’t even look at his paintings while actually painting them.
“I couldn’t get that out of my head and it took me a while to understand it. To yield control while painting was unthinkable and potentially too high a risk for me over the last couple of years.”
Falkner’s trademark is a balance he manages to keep between extremely explosive colors and vivid lines. As he once said, his main motivation is to look for the perfect creation of calligraphy and abstraction to calm this storm. Creating like that a frozen moment of forms and colors fighting each other.

Smash 137: Smash Proof

Smash137 - Smash Proof, 2009
Smash137 – Smash Proof, 2009

In 2009, a book titled Smash 137: Smash Proof (On the Run (from Here to Fame Paperback)) was edited in a celebration of this impressive style writer in his prime. This book offers an exciting look at the world of current graffiti talent and practices – while tracing the various style excursions and developments of Smash 137.

Streunergold at Gallery Die Kunstagentin

In 2015, Adrian Falkner’s solo show at Gallery Die Kunstagentin, named Streunergold, captured the wild and energetic forms of the street work carried out in public places by Smash137 and refined them into abstracted forms that still carry the essence of graffiti writing.

Smash137 - Exhibition at Die Kunstagentin, Cologne, 2015
Smash137 – Exhibition at Die Kunstagentin, Cologne, 2015

Artworks of Adrian Falkner sees the street artist working on linen with a variety of materials that includes spray paint, acrylic paint, inks and oil crayons to help create a richly textured and moving surface high in contrast that help to bring out the vibrant and gestural marks that are created. Works presented at this show draws on the twenty plus years of street art experience but here we find an artist who is not content to replicate his street art for the studio.
On the list of international galleries that exhibited his works can be found Library Street Collective, Detroit, LeFeurve, Paris, and Die Kunstagentin, Cologne.

Adrian Falkner aka Smash137 lives in Basel, Switzerland.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015StreunergoldGallery Die Kunstagentin, CologneSolo
2014Graffiti Painter Galerie Le Feuvre, Paris Solo
2013Urban SpiritGallery Brugier Rigail, ParisGroup
2013Der Blick Zurück Nach VorneGalerie Abtart, Stuttgart, DEGroup
2013Just InAss. La Lune En Parachute, Epinal, FRGroup
2013Between The LinesFabien Castanier, Los AngelesGroup
2013one artist showArtKarlsruhe, Karlsruhe, DEGroup
2013DisclosureLibrary Street Collective, DetroitSolo
2013Public EnemyGalerie Abtart, Stuttgart, DESolo
2012Insights 3Kunsthalle, Heidelberg, DEGroup
2012Stuck on the CityCity Gallery, Prague, CZGroup
2012Paper ShowGallery Celal, ParisGroup
2012Leave the Beef on the BBQGuerreo Gallery, San FranciscoGroup
2012SuspectGalerie Schöneck, Riehen/BaselGroup
2012Fifty/FiftyGallery Mathgoth, ParisGroup
2012Le Mur de L’ArtLes Blancs Manteaux, ParisGroup
2012Graffiti TherapyOpenspace, ParisGroup
2012Pop Up ShowGallery Brugier Rigail, ParisSolo
2012Sie Liebt Mich/Sie Liebt MichNicht Die Kunstagentin, Cologne, DESolo
2012Beautiful StruggleSpeerstra Gallery, Genève, CHSolo
2012Beautiful Struggle pt 2Montana Gallery, Montpellier, FRSolo
2011RollercoasterGallery Nina Menocal, MexicoGroup
2011In Sights 2Kunsthalle, Heidelberg, DEGroup
2011City LeaksDQE Halle, Cologne, DEGroup
2011Grow Up !Galerie Celal, ParisSolo
2011Say Cheeese!Galerie La Grille, Yverdon-les-Bains, CHSolo
2010Public Provocations IICarhartt Gallery, Weil am Rhein, DEGroup
2010Beyond GraffitiHaus der Kunst, Munich, DEGroup
2010In SightsKunsthalle, Heidelberg, DEGroup
2010Lost & FoundSpeerstra Gallery, Genève, CHSolo
2010Beautiful GreyNuithonie, Villars-sur-Glâne, CHSolo
2009Tomorrow ain’t promisedHeidelberger Kunstverein, GermanyGroup
2009GO FIGUREKrauts Gallery COCOON club, FrankfurtGroup
2009KarambolageSpeerstra Gallery, Geneva, CHSolo
2009KarambolageVicious Gallery, HamburgSolo
2009Tomorrow ain’t PromisedHeidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg, DEGroup
2009Born Under PunchesGallery AbtArt, Stuttgart, DEGroup
2009KarambolageSpeerstra Gallery, Genève, CHSolo
2009Work in ProgressGalerie Roland Aphold, Allschwil, CHSolo
2009KarambolageVicious Gallery, Hambourg, DESolo
2009SmashproofCommon Ground Gallery, Berlin, DESolo
2008Helping hounds of hellBerlin, HamburgGroup
2008UrbanfeedbackBasel, SwitzerlandGroup
2008RocketMunich, GermanyGroup
2008Kulturmarkt Zurich, CHGroup
2008ARTIG 3Imprimerie, Basel, CHGroup
2008Creative ClashKrauts Gallery, Castle MannheimGroup
2008Art&StyleSt. Gallen, CHGroup
2008We got our own thangWiesbaden, GermanyGroup
2008UntitledBotanique Museum, BrusselsGroup
2008One Man ShowPretty Portal Gallery, Düsseldorf, DESolo
2008Scope BaselBasel, CHGroup
2008Volta ShowBasel, CHGroup
2008UntitledCarhartt Gallery, Weil am Rhein, GermanyGroup
2008Kindergarden@AbxBasel, CHGroup
2008Gedanken zur RevolutionSpinnerei Leipzig, GermanyGroup
2008Yound bloodForumKunst Rottweil, GermanyGroup
2008Krauts Gallery meets COCOON club Frankfurt, GermanyGroup
2008Prettyportal AllstarsDüsseldorf, GermanyGroup
2008Das letzte HemdForumKunst Rottweil, GermanyGroup
2008Urban FeedbackMarkthalle, Bâle, CHGroup
2008Creative ClashKrauts Gallery, Castle Mannheim, DEGroup
2008No New EnemiesLe Botanique, Bruxelles, BEGroup
2008Gedanken zur RevolutionSpinnerei, Leipzig, DEGroup
2008Young BloodForum Kunst Rottweil, Rottweil, DEGroup
2007SILVER & BLACKUtopian Slumps, Melbourne, AustraliaGroup
2007ARTIGdas Schiff, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2007GIVE ME PROPSAuckland, New zealandGroup
2007SCOPE BASEL (Installation)Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2007UntitledCarhartt Gallery, Weil am Rhein, GermanyGroup
2007The walls belong to usPowerhouse Arena, NYCGroup
2007The walls belong to us 2Soho, NYCGroup
20072nd HAND SMOKEModart, Cologne, DEGroup
2007SCOPE MIAMIMiami, USAGroup
2007UntitledWHITE GALLERY, FrankfurtGroup
2007Silver & BlackGallery Utopian Slumps, MelbourneGroup
2006ARTIGUnternehmen Mitte, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2005LIVING & LIVING THE STREETSMarshall Art, Zurich, CHGroup
1997A Walk on The Wild SideMuseum of Fine Arts, Liestal, CHGroup