Stohead | Affenfaust Galerie


Stohead, is one of these artists for whom pain- ting is a never-ending search. At the beginning of his career, 34 years ago, when he discovered graffiti, he was struck by a specific dimension of this practice: the tag, which is the calligraphic aspect of graffiti. He discovered how to represent letters with a stroke and to string the characters together one after the other. And as tag aficionados know, you can a tell a good graffiti artist by the way he tags. Inspiration, movement, energy and coherence are all what makes the beauty of the tag, which is often illegible. The creative dimension of the tag is completely lost on neophytes who find that graffiti is artistic only when it is “pretty”.

Yes, the tag can be aggressive. It is a signature left quickly on a cor- ner of a wall whose only purpose is to say that its writer was there. And it is meant only for the artist’s peers: the public is not invited to decipher or like it. However, the tag often takes its practitioners on to calligraphy. Fascinated by the many - infinite – possibilities of representing a single letter with one or more strokes, the tagger can morph into an expert calligrapher by dint of tech- nical experimentation. Just as the graffiti artist is not automatically a painter, the tagger is not necessarily a calligrapher. And talent alone will not make an artist without hard work. Stohead has understood all this and has learnt this throughout his career. Without ever giving up on the tagger/graffiti artist in him, he rapidly decided to transpose his calligraphic universe on canvas. To- day, with another excellent graffiti artist, the Dutch artist Shoe, he is credited with the coining of the term «Calligraffiti». However, unlike Shoe, and unlike most artists who started out as graffiti artists and now do calligraphy on canvas - Stohead soon got tired of the egocentric aspect of writing, preferring to dot his paintings with bits of songs or quotations from books or films. Sometimes, he would even use a single word, written once or several times, on a pain- ting: ‘Intoxication’, ‘Over Over Over’, ‘NOW’. Depending on the environments in which they were placed, these words could give different meanings to the painting. During his initial experimentation, Stohead based his calligraphic work on the impact of words as well as on the strong visual effect created by the contrast between a plain, solid, dark or colourful background and a sharp, bright and animated writing, obtained with the use of totally different basic co- lours. Warm and cool tones, black and whites, very thick and dripping strokes made with tools created specially by the artist that saturate a canvas with such a “calm” background with paint....Impact, as always. 
v. Jonathan Roze

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