"Without Excuse" Hand Painted Edition Release

Type: Hand-Embellished Archival Pigment Print on 290gsm Moab Fine Art Paper

Size: 18 x 24 Inches

Edition Size: 40

Available HERE at 1XRUN

“Without Excuse” is a piece I made while I was at the Jardin Orange artist residency in Shenzhen, China in 2018.

I spent a lot of time in Shenzhen, roaming around abandoned buildings collecting old signs and posters and billboards. I don’t read Chinese, so I had no idea what was written on any of these things. I also never asked anyone to interpret any of it until pieces were completed. What I was trying to do was tell something about a place through what was discarded or left behind, while also juxtaposing that with some of my salvage portraits. Much of the material in this piece came from an abandoned office building at the beginning of August 2018. By the time I left Shenzhen, the building was well on it’s way to being apartments. Things change fast in Shenzhen.

The original piece is 50×66 inches (125 x 168cm) on a section of vinyl billboard I found being used as a tarp in the abandoned office building. The title “Without Excuse” comes from the line of small text just to the left of the figures head which literally says “Refuse to accept excuse” which was pinned to an office wall. The large main text in red and blue translates as “wonderful exquisite life”. Additional pieces collaged onto the piece read “Crane for rent”, “Make more money”, “Good business and prosperity”, and there is even a small newspaper headline about “President Xi”. In some ways these discarded things do describe the ethos of Shenzhen. Shenzhen was China’s first Special Economic Zone, an experiment by China with market capitalism. It is literally a manufactured city. In 1979 in was little more then a fishing village with a population of 60,000. 40 years later, it is a city of 13 million and the manufacturing center of the world. Shenzhen is at the center of China’s exponential economic growth. It is a boomtown like no other. In many ways the random text I collected illustrate the dream that Shenzhen presented; hard work, wealth, business development. In that sense, it was my most successful experiment in telling the story of a place by combining random discarded things. Things whose meanings were only told to me after the piece was finished. The addition of the Salvage portrait makes the piece a cautionary tale about the fragility of that unbridled growth. The age old boom to bust scenario that we never really seem to accept as more than coincidental or circumstantial.

Each of these prints have been hand painted and contain the number of the edition in Chinese characters at the bottom right corner. Near the left edge, the edition number is also painted into the existing background in English. Making these 40 variations was one of the most enjoyable studio projects I have done in recent years.

Eddie Colla

Arthur Monroe

In the end of October of this year I lost my neighbor and friend of 25 years, Arthur Monroe. I met Arthur in 1994 when I was a kid and had recently moved into my live/work space in East Oakland. I liked Arthur right away, mostly because I was an arrogant over assured young man and Arthur saw right through it. He had an easy way about him and at the same time let you know that, in his opinion, you didn’t know shit about shit. Arthur was actually an important man, whereas I just thought I was. He’d drop names of friends you’d only read of in books, he knew the stories, and could sling some good bullshit. Arthur was an impressive painter and also the registrar at the Oakland museum.

photo by: Torre McQueen & Kirk Crippens

Arthur was a big man he had an intimidating presence. Well into old age he’d haul stack after stack of wood up the stairs to fuel his wood burning stove. The owners of the building had long ago removed all the wood burning stoves from the building and forbid this type of heating. Except for Arthur, because they knew, as everyone did, you couldn’t tell Arthur what to do….ever.

Arthur was one of the first guys to organize artists in Oakland to petition the city and request that artists be able to occupy the vacant factories here. These were the first Live/Work spaces in Oakland. He had lived in the building since 1978. He knew every tenant who passed through in all those years, and all the stories. He was the building historian. When anyone had a question about what this place used to be, or who used to live here, the response was always the same, “You’d have to ask Arthur”. I remember one day leaving my studio to find Arthur and a fairly small Asian guy moving a Grand Piano up the stairs. They seemed a bit understaffed so I volunteered my help. The 3 of us moved that bitch one stair at a time until we got it to the top. It still sits in Arthur’s studio. Once you moved a Grand piano with a guy, no matter what disagreements may come in the future (and Arthur and I had plenty of disagreements) there is always a voice in the back of your head that says “he’s a solid guy, we may disagree, but he’s a solid guy”. I had that voice with Arthur and I suspect he had that voice with me.

I’ll miss sitting around the BBQ and hearing his stories, about the Korean war, about New York in the 50’s, about painting and about the never ending battle of citizens to assert their constitutional rights.

In recent years Arthur’s memory started getting a bit foggy. At first I could tell he was pissed. He’d come by my studio asking for a spare key because he’d locked himself out, seemingly agitated. Over time something really quite beautiful happened, he stopped being pissed. Not just about his memory, but about lots of things. He settled into his aging in an amazingly dignified way. He accepted it. Much of his bravado and combativeness evaporated until there was just Arthur. A delightful older guy, carrying a smile and pleasure to be around. Sure he was a bit foggy on the details, but ultimately, in those last years I felt I had a real privilege to see who Arthur really was. I was lucky to know him and I will miss him.

Rest in peace friend.

New Salvage cans

New salvage cans go on sale January 8th at 9am PST HERE. I made this series of cans when I was in China last year. I had been waiting for supplies to arrive for to start working on larger pieces. The residency where I was had kept all their empty spray cans. I started making these small pieces from the used spray cans. It wasn’t anything I planned, I just had an unexpected amount of free time waiting for my materials to arrive so I worked with what was available. I often make pieces from recycled materials for many reasons. First off I like that I am using material that would otherwise be discarded and end up in a landfill. Also there is a previous history to these objects. A purpose and a separate life that existed before they, by chance, ended up being used to create something new. Their discarded quality mirrors some of the characters i create in the Salvage portraits. It makes more sense to me than a piece of white canvas.

These are 15 individual pieces. They are not editioned multiples. Each is hand done and there is only one of each. They are signed and dated on the bottom of the can.

Street Art City – Lurcy-Lévis, France

In July, I traveled from Paris, with Nite Owl, to Lurcy-Lévis in the center of France to participate in Street Art City. Street Art City is a complex of buildings that were once some kind of training facility for the phone company (or something like that), and has long since been abandoned. About 3 years ago the new owners started inviting urban artists to come to the complex and make murals, do installations and create a room at hotel 128. Hotel 128 is an old dormitory type building containing 128 small individual rooms on 4 floors. Every room has been taken over by an artist. Below is mine.

I worked, as much as possible, with existing materials from the room. Shower doors, broken sinks, clusters of light bulbs. An important aspect for me was to reapply sections of the removed wallpaper over areas of the portraits. I didn’t want these to feel as though they had been installed, but rather that these images were always there, under that veneer of wallpaper. I wanted the images to feel as if they perhaps predated the buildings utilitarian phase and were now, after all these years, uncovered. That idea runs parallel to the idea of the salvage portraits. Presenting not an evolutionary change, but a regression. Presenting atavisms. Traits in people that had long been dormant, strands of DNA that still exist is us, but have become obsolete in a post modern civilization. Traits that still exist under the facade of civilized society, which can be reawakened, given an extreme environmental change.

On the radiator in the room I wrote “Entering a period of consequences” as a sort of warning about the fragility of all these structures we have grown dependent on.

It was an interesting week, surrounded by these images in this tiny room, in an abandoned building miles from anything.

Lurcy-Lévis is centered in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Getting cigarettes was a 90 minute walk round trip. Surrounded by Corn and Cows, an ironic place to showcase urban art. It offers many artists a place to work free from the distractions of ordinary life, urban life; it’s peaceful. That said, places like this scare me, rural places. I am not a country person. It’s too quiet, it gets too dark at night- it’s too summer-camp slasher movie for me. It took some acclamation on my part. But being outside of your comfort zone is always a good thing.

I got to spend some unrushed time with the homies Nite Owl and Rachel Riot. Also got to know a few solid guys from Barcelona Sebastien Waknine, Simón Vázquez and Zeso. Making art is obviously the reason I travel as much as I do. The thing I value the most about that travel is the people I meet, the stories they tell and these unlikely little places like Lurcy-Lévis that I would have never seen if I wasn’t making art

New Salvage Portraits Avaialble

10 new Salvage portraits will be release online here at 9am PST on May 27th. These are 18 x 24 inches, mixed media on grommeted canvas, signed on the back

Cacophony and GFL 5 Release on 1XRUN

These pieces go on sale May 14th at 9am PST. Cacophony is 18×18 inches laser cut 3/4 inch acrylic stacked in 3 layers. GFL-5 is an 18×18 inch print on 290gsm Moab fine art paper. They are available HERE

ABOUT THE PIECES

The Goldfish girl (who is the same character as the bike girl) was created almost a decade ago. I often revisit it, and she has been longest continuing character I’ve created. I often write back stories for these characters to help me create the pieces, but they are generally never shared with the viewer.

The Goldfish girl was born in mainland China, and raised mostly by a single father. Her mother passed away when she was 18 months old from cancer. She was often very ill as a child, and was eventually diagnosed with a compromised immune system disorder, although a precise diagnosis was never given. However, something even as harmless as a common cold would escalate to further respiratory complications or pneumonia rather quickly as her body had no defense mechanism against these things. This is the reason for always wearing the mask and gloves. She was hospitalized often and resuscitated several times as a child. As a result, she could not attend school with other children and was home schooled by her father.

Her father bred Goldfish for a living and taught her that trade as a kid. They worked side by side and rarely had visitors because of her condition. Goldfish rarely occur in nature, and are actually a result of a genetic mutation in silver carp. Because of their beautiful color and rarity, they began being bred and sold about 1500 years ago. They are, for the most part, a result of steering the hand of nature.

Often being extremely ill and also losing her mother made her childhood difficult. As most children do, she tried to find a reason for her misfortune, a reason for why all this had happened to her and her father. Eventually, she believed that her illness and her mother’s cancer were a punishment by nature. A curse for toying with nature by breeding goldfish. Her family had toyed with nature, and she believed that now, nature was toying with them. She never shared that thought with her father because she felt it would indirectly place the blame for all this misfortune on him.

When she was 11 and extremely ill and hospitalized, she asked her father “Why don’t I just give up? This is too hard. I think we need to accept that this is my fate; it is my fate to die” Her father became angry and replied “Fate? Do you know what fate is? It is the result of a life unattended, it is what happens when you do nothing” He needed to give her a reason to keep trying, a challenge. He continued “We can cheat fate, create our own fate and all you have to do to cheat fate is live another day. Every day that you do that, you have won, not fate”

That was the conversation that shaped the rest of her life, that was her mission, to survive and deny nature its punishment.

Eventually, her father passed away as well. Needing to make a living and also to taunt fate she illegally immigrated to Hong Kong. There is a famous goldfish market in Mong Kok on Tung Choi street, but it’s commonly called goldfish street. With a compromised immune system the most dangerous thing to her was other people. As a challenge to fate she moved to one of the most densely populated cities in the world. She got a stall on Tung Choi street. This is her challenge, to taunt fate and win, becoming the master of her own fate.

These images are vignettes of her life in Hong Kong. I’ve never given the character a name. Often the pieces are accompanied by the text “I have a name, but it doesn’t matter” That phrase is to express her belief that life is not about who we are, life is about what we do. She is pictured always alone. Sometimes she is on a bike as crowded public transportation poses to big a risk. Sometimes she is pictured with a boombox because music becomes a central companion to her mostly solitary life. In the piece Cacophony I wanted her to literally be surrounded by the city. There are many more specifics to the story, but I wanted this character to be a vehicle for ideas about self determination, finding meaning in life and playing the hand you are dealt even when it’s a piss poor hand. In some way I think I tried to create a character that embodied a lot of traits I aspire to. To remind myself.

EDDIE COLLA / MEMORANDUM

Show opens 7th December, 6pm – 9pm

Riot1Memorandum is both a a record and a reminder for the future.
It functions for me in this duality.

 

FernandoThese portraits allow me to express a vision, a warning and a reminder. A reminder about consequence and about perseverance and strength. I came to Paris 6 weeks ago, shot 57 photographic portraits and filmed 10 video portraits. A catalog of sorts. I photographed friends, and friends of friends. The selection of people was quite random and in no way curated. Every person photographed is in the exhibition.

DinkEach one is a collaboration between myself and the subject in which the subject is both exposed and simultaneously fictionalized.

That is the collaboration. Taking what is inherent to the subject and also projecting what I am trying to convey regarding the future and possible outcomes.

Together we create portraits of people who don’t exist in a circumstance that has yet to occur. The portraits are an invitation to the viewer to find themselves – or a part of themselves – in these images. There are also an invitation to more ­closely examine the consequences of our current means.

ONeil2

Nadia.jpg

On a more personal level, it is a record – or document – of a place and time. The people I’ve met… my friends… and Paris in 2018. This function will not be realized until some point in the future. A point at which my memories of this time fade, the conversations become harder to recall and the details evaporate. This will be my record, my mnemonic device.

A note to my future self.

‘Memorandum’ opens at GCA Gallery on Friday 7th December, 18:00 to 21:00 and runs until Saturday 19th January 2019.

GCA Gallery can be found at 2 place Farhat Hached, 75013 Paris, France.
To enquire about any of the pieces for sale, including those featured here, contact: info@gcagallery.fr  / Tel: +33 6 09 07 75 99 / gcagallery.fr