Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mr. Brainwash - Icons Exhibition

Since February, a sprawling space in the Meatpacking section of lower Manhattan (which has also spilled out onto the adjoining street) has been dominated by master businessman and prolific artist, Mr. Brainwash (MBW). In this space, he cleverly debuted his rather large "Icons" exhibit during the Fashion Week feeding frenzy. It re-opened again in May for Mother's Day, with new rotating artwork appearing all the time.

Visitors can feel good with freebie takeaway gifts (admittedly, I too, took home an autographed poster). I also had a chat with the paint-covered artist who, in classic Nike-ad style, gave me an enthusiastic pep-talk for several minutes about continuing to do my own work to not being hindered by obstacles; to "just do it". Keep working, keep making, keep creating, and keep painting, whether it's working in a friend's apartment, or destroying my own. Whatever it takes. But just keep working.

Madonna's latest album cover features his work, and since the release of the Exit Through the Gift Shop, a film about Thierry Guetta (a.k.a. Mr. Brainwash) by London's most famous street artist, Banksy, much has been written about Mr. Brainwash. Is he really Banksy? Banksy's best friend? A fraud, a hoax, or an artist who must be taken seriously? Who knows for sure. He's like a modern day Andy Warhol, a prankster churning out works of art featuring famous faces like Madonna and the band, Kiss. The work goes even further back in time with images of Charlie Chaplin and Abraham Lincoln. Here, the word, "icon", also translates into famous company logos like Campbell's Soup. Again, recalling Andy.

The faces here are all recognizable, and the oversized art, is just kind of fun to experience in the cavernous space. It may not be serious, but is just simply entertaining. Much like many of the "iconic" personalities we see here. Whatever your take is on this subversive man of mystery, I can personally attest to his passion for painting and for life.

A MBW-branded corner of the Meatpacking District as a colorful Space Invader mosaic peeps over the barricade.

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