From the Stage to the Streets through the work of Smurf

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Smurf takes his Las Vegas based painting career to new heights in defiance of the arts industry complex.

Who is this artist, Smurf, and how have I not encountered his works before? Smurf’s name is internationally known in the dance communities with his breakdancing practice, The Spin Theory, and has recently undertaken a new venture with the opening of his tattoo studio Cosmic Social Club in Las Vegas. However, while his name arises in these various circles what is less known are his stellar skills as a visual artist. While he was passed over time and time again by the pretentious systems of ‘Fine Art’ he was not discouraged. He persevered and today creates energetic images that glorify the glitz and glamour from Hollywood to the day-to-day life of street culture

Reimagining the Classics

From formal canvases to roadside electrical boxes, viewers can discover Smurf’s work reimagining recognizable portraits of celebrities, musicians, and icons. Amy Winehouse, Prince, Rhianna are only a few of the dozens he has transformed through his exceptional artistic style.

With each gestural brushstroke, he applies to his canvas the subject emerges. Photorealistic but each motion of his hand shines through exemplifying Smurf’s ability to embrace the freedom of the process and still maintain absolute control. Then, layers of spray paint. Intentional broad splatters met with intricate bursts as he accentuates his subject and creates dynamic plays of light. Each work vibrates with the saturated colors and depth of shadows, each subject feeling as if they have permanently taken the stage. This spirited use of color leaves each person bathed in a neon colored light, as if they are permanently upon a stage, their skin illuminated in vivacious magentas deep purples, and haunting teals. Smurf places us in the pit of a venue or peering from backstage as these otherworldly figures radiate life. Portrayed amongst diffused Swirls of color and geometric abstractions the viewer’s focus remains on his subject while the aura of showmanship remains.

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Spotlight on the Street

While the famed celebrity portraits entice viewers with the familiarity of popular culture, Smurf translates his unique approach to painting and applies it to the personal elements of his own life. As he captures the vivacity of the streets, the sense of movement in dance, and even the simple elegance of commonplace objects like a pair of shoes, he elevates each intimate experience with his distinct theatrical aura. In the same vein as his portraits of famous subjects, he depicts his fellow BBoys and the breakdance culture that is close to his heart with brilliant colors and a balance of figuration and gesture. Bodies contort as they transition from one move to another, crowds gather and build the energy as they cheer, and DJs’ hands slide gracefully disc to disc enthralling a viewer with the energy, captivated by the intensity of color, eyes in constant motion following Smurf’s flowing use of line. He handles the BBoy subjects with the same meticulous attention to intricate detailing and an illuminating rainbow palette.

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Smurf is a conductor. He constructs images that contain an endless spirit of tense and infectious energy. As he explores depictions of icons we have come to know and love to his own community of BBoy dancers all figures stand in equal esteem. While Smurf’s work somehow manages to elude the industry of self proclaimed ‘High Art’, his persistence allows his work to continue enticing his audiences with the vibrancy of his world.

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To learn more about Smurf’s multidisciplinary practices and upcoming works follow his social media channels instagram [link]  for his The Spin Theory[link], and Cosmic Social Club[link]

All images by Yoshieye

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