Bringing together two key figures in the development of the phenomenally influential landscape of hip hop culture, the evening will trace the parallels, ties and cultural impact that hip hop has had upon contemporary art culture. Grounded in the anecdotal experiences of Fab 5 Freddy and Tate, the discussion will focus on the pivotal roles they each played in fomenting the progression of their respective fields of expertise since their coming-of-age in downtown and uptown Gotham during the 1980s. A reception and walkthrough of the exhibition will follow the conversation.
Afro-Greco by Fab 5 Freddy is on view through Sunday, April 23.
Born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Fred Brathwaite—more popularly known as Fab 5 Freddy—has been a seminal figure within street art and hip hop culture since his emergence on the downtown New York scene during the late 1970s. In addition to making art, Fab co-produced, starred in and composed the original music for the 1983 cult classic Wild Style prior to becoming the first host of Yo! MTV Raps, a groundbreaking show which pushed the hip hop genre and lifestyle into global mainstream discourse. Along with the countless art exhibitions, music videos and writings that he has participated in, directed, produced and published, his efforts as a creative disruptor have been instrumental in elevating New York graffiti into a movement that would eventually give birth to street art.
The body of work presented at Pioneer Works is emblematic of Fab’s current practice, which he likens to the term ‘abstract remix.’ The paintings bridge Fab’s roots in graffiti with things that appeal to him visually at any given time, and are each comprised of appropriated fragments that he photographed, digitally dismembered and reconnected. While the backgrounds of some paintings represent classic markers of graffiti and hip hop culture, others from his ‘Afro-Greco’ series are made up of relics such as Greek urns and African masks. This disparate imagery points to Fab’s radical message which began with him leading the way for artists rooted in graffiti to explore visual subjects beyond the ‘calligraffiti’ of their own tags, and points to his pivotal role in linking a hitherto underground scene to the forefront of popular culture and contemporary art.