Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone
  • Incognito mural, Johannesburg, September 2015
  • Incognito mural, Johannesburg, September 2015 (3)
  • Above Stenciling - Berlin Wall, 2009
  • Above - Naked. Shower head installation, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 2009

Importance of Identity and Devotion - A Talk with Street artist ABOVE

November 29, 2015
Anika Dačić graduated in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade and is currently pursuing MA in Literary and Cultural Studies. Her interests lie in social and cultural aspects of contemporary art production and she especially enjoys writing about street and urban art. Likes to knit, play adventure video games and host quiz nights at a local bar.

In our recent podcast series, we talked to the artist Borondo about the commercialization of street art practices. Street art is popular now more than ever, and artists are seizing the opportunity to live their fifteen minutes of fame. Nothing wrong about that, if we consider that people have been waiting for this moment for decades. However, there are those artists who are keeping their practice closer to the old days, deliberately choosing to hide their identity and letting their works speak for themselves. Originally from California, but now the citizen of the world, street artist Above is one of them. Starting from the questions of name and identity, the talk with Above turned out to be a rather interesting one.

Above - Metamorphosis, Malmø. Sweden graffiti contact facebook painted like tour videos south
Above – Metamorphosis, Malmø. Sweden, May 2015 (An eight-storey building I painted in an overlapping style similar to CMYK color blending. The arrows ascend and converge towards the middle of the wall, then extend more upward and outward. This mural was my first attempt at the current style I’ve been exploring)

How Many Shapes Can an Arrow Take?

Starting as a graffiti writer in the nineties, Above has crossed a long path in his career, always looking for the new challenges and planting his artworks across the globe. Those of you who have been following his work have surely noticed that no matter what projects he does, or how much his visual language evolves with every new endeavor, his choice of represented subjects stays the same. Moreover, you have probably wondered how it can be that the artist can explore a single motif for years and doesn’t lose his ability to stay innovative and original. Well, Above is certainly a phenomenon when it comes to this question. Ever since he adopted arrow as his signature mark, he never stopped working on its representation. For us, arrows are some simple patterns with practical use, but the artist has shown us over the years that there are more meanings to this international symbol and that is can take an astonishing number of shapes, colors and forms. Most importantly, the interplay of these simple patterns can lead to the creation of magnificent artworks like the mural Incognito artist did in Johannesburg few months ago.

Incognito mural, Johannesburg, September graffiti contact facebook painted like tour videos(2) south
Above – Incognito mural, Johannesburg, September 2015 (Incognito mural completed with Johannesburg skyline)

Interview With Above – Incognito Mural and Beyond

Widewalls Senior Editor Bojan Maric had a great pleasure of talking to Above about many interesting subjects concerning his studio works and public engagements. The beautiful mural Incognito was certainly the most discussed topic, as it is the artist’s largest and most serious project to date.

If you want to find out why Above chooses to conceal his identity, what are the projects he is most proud of, and when will he decide to paint something other than arrows, we invite you to listen to this talk.

To enjoy more of Above’s art head over to his website and make sure you also check out other exciting art talks at Widewalls on Soundcloud!

For more interviews with leading contemporary and street artists sign up for My Widewalls!

Scroll down for more Above’s art and the artists comments on his works…

Left - Above - Detroit Fusion. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink, industrial resin coating 45 x 45 cm - Right - Above - Grand River. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink, industrial resin coating - 90 x 90 cm
Left: Above – Detroit Fusion. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink, industrial resin coating 45 x 45 cm – Remix solo exhibition. Detroit, U.S.A. 2014 (A wooden ‘target’ composed of identical cut design, but different colored laser cut wood panels. Each piece was then interchanged from an identical artwork of different colors, to create the final ‘remixed’ piece) / Right: Above – Grand River. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink, industrial resin coating – 90 x 90 cm – Remix solo exhibition. Detroit, U.S.A. 2014 (A wooden arrow composed of identical cut design, but different colored laser cut wood panels. Each piece was then interchanged from an identical artwork of different colors, to create the final ‘remixed’ piece)
Left - Above - Burning Man. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink, industrial resin coating - 45cm x 45 cm Right - Above - Charlotte. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink, industrial resin coating - 60 x 60 cm
Left: Above – Burning Man. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink, industrial resin coating – 45 cm x 45 cm – Remix solo exhibition. Detroit, U.S.A. 2014 (A wooden arrow composed of identical cut design, but different colored laser cut wood panels. Each piece was then interchanged from an identical artwork of different colors, to create the final ‘remixed’ piece) / Right: Above – Charlotte. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink, industrial resin coating – 60 x 60 cm Remix solo exhibition. Detroit, U.S.A. 2014 (A wooden ‘target’ composed of identical cut design, but different colored laser cut wood panels. Each piece was then interchanged from an identical artwork of different colors, to create the final ‘remixed’ piece)
Left - Above -  Hollywood. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink, industrial resin coating - 45 x 45 cm - Right - Above - Metamorphosis. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink - 60cm x 60 cm
Left: Above – Hollywood. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink, industrial resin coating – 45 x 45 cm – Remix solo exhibition. Detroit, U.S.A. 2014 (A wooden arrow composed of identical cut design, but different colored laser cut wood panels. Each piece was then interchanged from an identical artwork of different colors, to create the final ‘remixed’ piece) / Right: Above – Metamorphosis. Wood panels, acrylic paints and ink – 60cm x 60 cm – Remix solo exhibition. Detroit, U.S.A. 2014 (A wooden piece composed of different colored laser cut wood panels. Showing the transparency of the overlay of each color)
Left - Above - Naked. Shower head installation, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 2009 - Right - Above - Timing, London, England, September 2013
Left: Above – Naked. Shower head installation, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 2009 (This is only half of the ‘Truth’ The full truth is found when looking inside the shower!) / Right: Above – Timing, London, England, September 2013 (Close up of the break dancer. Full color stencil)
Left - Incognito Print - Right - Above - Incognito mural, Johannesburg, September graffiti contact facebook painted like tour videos
Left: Above – Incognito Print (I printed the Incognito print in my Berlin print studio in May, 2015. Edition of (19) / 84 cm wide X 116 cm tall Somerset, 330gsm Acid Free, Radiant White 100% cotton. All prints have hand deckle edge) / Right: Above – Incognito mural, Johannesburg, September 2015 (Giving the Incognito mural one final look over to see if everything is in place?)
Above - Wall St Banker, Miami, Florida, October 2011
Above – Wall St Banker, Miami, Florida, October 2011 (Give a Wall St. banker enough rope and he will hang himself. A city block long word play and hanging effigy of a Wall Street business man)
Above - Timing, London, England, September 2013
Above – Timing, London, England, September 2013 (I am attracted to the concept that the stencil and it’s context can change literally from day to night. The break dancer stencil comes to life at night)

Featured images: First two – Above – Incognito mural, Johannesburg, September 2015; Above Stenciling – Berlin Wall, 2009; Above – Naked. Shower head installation, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 2009. All images courtesy of the artist