I like to support local, independent businesses, and give a shout out, occasionally. My local bookstore has a superb staff that knows their stuff and always has the book I’m looking for (or can get it seemingly overnight for no extra charge), the local Indian restaurant was making me these delicious special meals without telling me that the dish I was requesting wasn’t on the menu, and my car guys never try to rook me into unnecessary work on my old dogmobile. So, I figured I should do this with artists, too.
Thing is, as a studio artist, I tend to focus on my own painting and neglect that aspect of the work that requires us to actually go out and see other work. It’s not that I don’t want to expand my horizons and expose myself to new inspiration and build rapport with galleries and support other artists; it’s just that I haven’t been researching shows and scheduling the time. (Yeah, I should work on that.)
But when Rafius Fane Gallery in the South End showed Percy Fortini Wright’s show “Identity Crisis,” I went. I had been a fan of Percy’s work on social media since a friend suggested his style as being somewhat compatible with my own in perspective, and I was blown away by it. So, I hopped on a train and popped in to the opening.
As soon as I walked into the gallery, my glasses fogged up. This was not a buttoned-up, white-bread art opening, but a dance party. Hip-hop was blasting and people were dancing. A woman stood facing a wall-sized abstract piece while the artist spray-painted a portrait on the back of her coat. I gravitated over to the urban landscapes, bypassing the faces altogether, and just stood there, taking them in. When I started painting again, several years ago, I thought that I would paint urban scenes — streets, subways, alleys, things like that. But then faces just started happening and I went with it. Now, standing at this wall, I stopped breathing for a moment. Yes. Why am I not painting city scenes? No, I need to focus on faces, Wait. Do I? So, yeah, I was inspired.
Moving along to the next wall, the streets started to blend toward faces, until it became a wall of “Children from Beyond,” and I recognized the work I had seen online. Percy blends oils with spray paint in a way that makes you wonder why this hasn’t been popularized. Graffiti meets classically painted brick wall, and it just fits. In the faces, there is an ease with which the features are applied (or, sprayed) that reveals such familiarity that you wonder if he just whips them up in three minutes. I think of myself laboring over a 48” portrait with my #6 brushes, and am puzzled by the ability he seemingly has of just spraying the same sized face with such quick and effortless strokes.
Anyway, at the risk of sounding like a blathering fangirl, I’ll just wrap it up here by saying that you should go and see this work, for yourself. There is so much more than the few I’ve posted, and the artist’s ability to blend urban graffiti with classical style is worth a peek. Rafius Fane Gallery is at 460C Harrison Ave in Boston, and the show is up through Feb 17.