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FREEDOM's Tunnel Work

  • FREEDOM's Tunnel Work
August 23, 2014
Sanja Lazic was born in 1990 in Belgrade, Serbia. Her interest in art comes from a very early age and although she didn’t have the talent to pursue it professionally, she enjoys every day working and writing about it. Her favorite urban artists are Interesni Kazki, Saner and Phlegm.

Not many people can say that they have a tunnel named after them. Artist named Chris Pape aka Freedom can say it. Between 1980 and 1996, Chris painted a tunnel in New York now known as the Freedom Tunnel. Placed underneath the Upper West Side, the tunnel has become an icon for the urban exploring and graffiti communities. His work was always inspired by other art movements which led him to referencing great art throughout history, from Renaissance art to pop art. Prominent paintings in the Freedom Tunnel attributed to Pape include his “self-portrait” featuring a male torso with a spray-can head and “There’s No Way Like the American Way, a parody of Coca-Cola advertising and tribute to the evicted homeless of the tunnel. Another theme of Freedom’s work is black and silver recreations of classical art, including a reinterpretation of the Venus de Milo and a full train car recreation of the iconic hands from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. All of this contributed to the fact that somehow, without any initial desires, Freedom turned the tunnel into his own personal hall of fame.

FREEDOM's Tunnel Work
Self portrait by Freedom, photo circa 2011.

New Tunnel, New Style

Since then, the city of New York and Amtrak (The National Railroad Passenger Corporation) have buffed much of the Freedom Tunnel, but that didn’t stop Freedom from searching for a new place to present his artwork. And he did. In Rochester, upstate New York, Freedom found another tunnel, painted it and decided to make an exhibition out of it, called ‘The Rochester Series’. It will display a collection of 12” x 16” paintings on wooden panels, larger works on canvas, and traditional NYC wild style piecebook drawings reinvented with added collage. Comparing to his work in the Freedom Tunnel, this time the artist decided to use colors and create bright and exciting works. FREEDOM paints iconic comic book heroes and classic products with graphic cartoony logos incorporating distressed backgrounds to bring into the gallery walls his musings from his current tunnel spray paint installations. In “THE THING,” FREEDOM tags up historical NYC graffiti writers FLINT, MIKE 171, TAKI 183, and many others, again referencing the impact and gravity of his graffiti community, the writing idols of the walls.

FREEDOM's Tunnel Work
Chris painting in 1985.

The Rochester Series

Freedom’s latest exhibition ‘The Rochester Series’ will be opened on August 30th in Seventh Letter Gallery, lasting until September 13th, 2014. Besides the tunnel work featuring iconic comic book heroes and classic products with graphic cartoony logos incorporating distressed backgrounds, visitors will be able to buy the artists’ newly released BLADE: KING OF GRAFFITI book, which will be celebrated at the same opening, along with an exhibit of new solo artwork by BLADE. Be sure not to miss it!

FREEDOM's Tunnel Work
The Freedom Tunnel, 2011.