Saturday, March 19, 2011

UK graffiti artist EINE bombs San Francisco

If you’ve been walking around the Mission, Tenderloin or Nob Hill, you might have seen huge block letters showing up on walls and shutters.

It’s the work of London-based street artist EINE, who painted the 26 letters of the alphabet around these San Francisco neighborhoods and painted one large work, "We Rock Hardest," above the KFC restaurant on Polk and Eddy Streets.

EINE, a.k.a. Ben Flynn, uses both canvas and city walls to play with large-scale typography and the English language. His early claim to fame was to make “Vandalism” look pretty, literally. He wrote the word on a wall in London.

By using crisp typography and, at times, an Old-English looking font, EINE has repositioned graffiti, which is often seen as vandalism. He’s also used his artistry to re-orient our perception of words like “monsters” and “scary,” which he writes in bright, cheery colors on walls throughout Europe.
EINE came into the spotlight when he started collaborating with the world-renown, elusive street artist, Banksy, in 2000. They exhibited together over several years in Berlin, Vienna, Denmark and Australia and collaborated on the famous Palestinian Wall project. In 2008, EINE began exhibiting solo, showing in Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, and throughout Europe.
In San Francisco, EINE says he got permission for 90 percent of the public work he did. But even for the art that wasn’t “commissioned,” he wasn’t weary of police or pedestrian interference.

“San Francisco is one of the dirtiest cities and I mean that in a good way” Flynn said at his White Walls opening. "There’s street art everywhere. When people see me putting something up, they don’t really seem to care."
EINE’s pieces on the streets of San Francisco are an extension of his show “Greatest,” which is up at White Walls gallery right now. When you walk into the Tenderloin gallery, the first thing you see is a huge wall piece, larger than any other work, which is a multi-hued clutter of words and phrases.

In keeping with his style, EINE painted glittery words like “super star” and word arrangements like “brightest, quickest, smartest” in canvas in the same popping colors. The gallery pieces, which are done on canvas and painted with acrylic,  move even further from traditional notions of graffiti than his street work.

For art aficionados who don’t want to roam the streets of the Tenderloin looking for EINE’s alphabet, the show at White Walls is a good introduction to his work.

But I’d suggest looking for EINE’s pieces on the streets. Somehow EINE’s colorful typography feels loud in the gallery since it’s meant to stand out on city streets, which are often dull and grey. And while EINE’s word fall flat and come-off as a little too controlled in the gallery, on the streets they play off the landscape where the words take on a different meaning.

Taken from: Bay Citizen

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