Founded in 1996 by L’Atlas, Elger and Koers, VAO Collective will be celebrating an important anniversary this year. To mark 20 years of urban and contemporary creation, Urban Spree Galerie has invited the crew for an exceptional residency. Ten artists will be working together for a week to redefine what the essence of the collective is all about, and visitors will be able to see the final outcome in an exhibition at Urban Spree Gallery. Besides Aleteïa, L’Atlas, Babou, Benjamin Laading, Clyde Knowland, Parole, Sun7, Tanc, Teurk, and Valerie Newland, the exhibition will introduce the latest member of the crew, the Torino-based minimalist artist CT, who joined the collective in October 2016.
The practice of Vandales à l’Origine, aka VAO Collective, is firmly rooted in graffiti and street art as its inception. Yet, the diverse practice of its members has spread their work in different directions over the years, from abstract calligraphy and graffiti, “calligrammes”, land art, to minimalism and expressionism. Despite the recognition they have gained in the art world, they have managed to maintain strong links to the street practice that still defines them as a collective. For this unique and exceptional occasion for working together, artists will create artworks in situ - in the gallery, on the walls, and in the garden. Additionally, Urban Spree will edit a series of exclusive screen prints with L’Atlas, Tanc and CT, hand-pulled in the screen print studio at the gallery venue.
The work of these artists is very diverse, making the practice of the collective incredibly rich. While the French artist Aleteïa defines her work as an urban mythological laboratory where she uses symbolic and universal language, L’Atlas is fascinated by the history of handwriting and has developed a pictorial universe where the written word becomes a calligraphic abstraction. An iconic figure in street art, Babou focuses his practice on the atmosphere and the gesture of the tag, seeking to recreate the energy and movement of the street. On the other hand, Benjamin Laading creates a fresh vision of graffiti with his technical repetition of dots, creating a window between a controlled and accidental environment. While Clyde Knowland creates a very gestural work that reproduced an urban jungle and its energy in an almost abstract way, Parole has developed spontaneous writings imbued with spiritual and sacred feelings and meanings. The art of Sun7 consists of portraits and coded texts, while the art of Tanc is all about lines, vibrations and repetition. While the versatile practice of Teurk encompasses objects, videos, and sculptures by mixing art and science, Valerie Newland sports a minimalist approach to seizure the space, canvas, and fluid structure. Finally, the work of CT created in abandoned and lost spaces is best described as graffiti minimalism.
Urban Spree Galerie is an art space in Berlin-Friedrichshain dedicated to urban cultures through exhibitions, artist residencies, DIY workshops, concerts, an art store and a large Biergarten. The public can witness the Residency work-in-progress every day from November 14th to November 17th at the gallery. The final exhibition will be on view from November 18th, 2016 until December 2nd, 2016. The opening reception will be held on November 18th at 7pm.
Featured images: Babou - Les Bains, photo by Stephane Bisseuil. Courtesy of Galerie Magda Danysz; Valerie Newland; Tanc; Aleteia - Place aux herbes. All images courtesy of Urban Spree Gallery.