Tag Archives: eddie colla

“Phoenix” Limited Edition Print

Goes on Sale Monday November 16th, at 9am PST HERE

“Phoenix”

11×14 inches (28x36cm)

Archival pigment print on 300 gr Moab Entrada Rag Matte Fine Art Paper

edition size 50

Signed and numbered

I made this piece originally on a rainy October night in Paris, on Rue de Forge Royale across the street from a gallery called Le cabinet d’amateur. Me and Droos and Nite Owl were wandering around putting pieces up. I threw this paster up and it started raining pretty hard, so we went and grabbed a drink down the street at some little bar. Inside the bar were a bunch of guys from Oakland watching the Raiders game on the TV. Small world I guess. We had a few and I went back and added the black and white drips. I think the rain actually helped. It was a good night and probably one of my favorite pieces from that trip.

The Road

A Tuesday, September 22, 2020. It arrived as a newspaper headline. 200,000 Americans had died of a preventable disease. We take note of large round numbers like these. They have impact. They are the notches on rulers and the lines on thermometers. I never really trust the psychology of numbers. They are treacherous, manipulative things, numbers. Why is 200,000 more significant than 198,534 or 203,568? Why does $5.99 feel like 5 dollars and not 6? Numbers are good at deceit because of their specificity.
There is something of seeming importance about thresholds. They represent a major change, when in fact that change is often minute or marginal. It’s a perception of change. I learned this a long time ago, standing with one foot in New Mexico and one foot in Arizona. They were the same, indistinguishable. Same earth, same view, same place. I had attached a definition to 2 virtually identical patches of land based on some arbitrary definition.
All it takes to cross into the realm of 200,000 deaths is for one more person to die. Who was it? Did they ever wonder if they would be the one that ushered in 200,000? It’s a small change but a numerical threshold. Dissimilar to May when we had reached 100,000 dead. That threshold seemed, in some ways more heartbreaking and certainly more shocking. In the 4 months since, I had changed. I had acclimated to this magnitude of death. While 100,000 deaths seemed unthinkable last Spring, 200,000 seems not surprising this Fall. Perhaps it even feels expected. I had gotten used to it, it had become normal.
Six months ago the idea of 1200 or 800 or 2000 fellow citizens dying daily seemed like domain of science fiction or war. This was neither. These tragic and horrific images appeared to belong to a bygone era. I had begun to believe in our false invulnerability. In a post modern world, in America, it was hard to imagine that kind of loss. We don’t have to imagine it anymore.
I wake up everyday, I look at the news and count the dead. I stopped reacting months ago. This disturbs me, because it makes me call into question who I think I am. Am I someone who counts the dead every morning while drinking coffee, disaffected? I wouldn’t have thought so. Perhaps I was wrong about me.
Those numbers though, they can play tricks on you. When 84 people had died in Wuhan, in many ways that seemed more real. I can visualize 84 people, I actually know 84 people. There is a equivalent substitution where I can relate the 84 people to a personal experience. I can remember being in a bar with around 84 people or a restaurant. I can remember faces and groups. When I can reference an experience, I can feel it.
200,000 people…what does that even mean? What does that look like? I have nothing to compare it to. It is an abstract number. One of the treacheries of numbers is that they can steal your humanity- perhaps not intentionally, but merely as a consequence. There is something vulgar about counting people, alive or dead. This has always bothered me. Counting is such a deficient way of marking existence that it is offensive. Large numbers become quite literally unimaginable. What does a million dollars look like? What do 330 million people look like? I don’t like things I can’t create a visual of in my mind.
I often do exercises to explain things to myself, to create a language I can understand. I once tried to calculate how many people were sitting in one mile of traffic on a 3 lane highway, because “traffic” seems like a vague notion. When I could reference it by the number of people idly sitting in their cars, wasting a certain amount of time, and relate that to thousands of people losing some piece from the bigger story of their lives, then, I can in some way understand it’s gravity.
I needed to explain these 200,000 people to myself.
So I created “The Road”. The Road is an imaginary place where I might approach feeling the impact of the past 6 months. I’ve measured it, done the math, and walked it in my mind over and over again. It’s an exercise in reversing the anesthetic effects of a pandemic.
At the start of the road there is a body, a victim of COVID-19. Next to that body is the next victim, side by side, and this goes on for 200,000 people. That’s the road. On average, every 22 inches there’s another body marking the absence of another life. It goes on like that for 69.4 miles. I close my eyes and try to walk it, carefully, considerately taking note of each face and each life. I never finish. I imagine finishing, but I never actually make it. I can’t. By my best estimate it would take me about 23 hours to walk that 69.4 mile road. With each step appears another face, another body, another set of ideas and plans and desires that abruptly ended. No explanation, no consolation- a life that simply ceased to be. That’s a long road to walk, even in my imagination. Every step of that 69.4 mile walk, presents a life, and memories that disappeared like smoke in a breeze. Every face unique, every story unique. Never to be repeated in quite the same way.
There’s this stone that sits on my chest when I imagine the road. A weight that swells into a panic, and a crescendo of helpless remorse and ineffectuality. For all we have lost, of each other and of ourselves, the finality of it is insurmountable. Yet, life goes on, often ridiculously.
This same Tuesday, the world was abuzz about the future of Tik Tok. The president spit blame across his podium, Jeff Bezos increased or decreased his net worth by some percentage. Those were headlines. Of course there were numbers also. 800 and some odd people. They were alone, tended by strangers, healthcare workers, cloaked in masks and shields and hazmat suites. Almost unrecognizable as fellow humans. I’d like to believe they could see each other’s eyes. I’d like to believe they could recognize each other’s humanity, if only for that fleeting moment. I’d like to believe 800 something people didn’t simply leave this world, completely alone, separated as pariahs. I’d like to believe that.
You might be considering, at this point, why I even do this seemingly morbid exercise. Why I even attempt to walk the road. I don’t have a specific answer. I confess, it feels futile and I feel utterly helpless in all this. It’s not something I am proud of, but it’s honest. I simply don’t know what to do. I walk the road as best I can, in honor, and at the very least, in recognition of this immeasurable loss. They say you truly die when the last person who holds a thought of you dies…
Perhaps, I walked the road to remember the life of someone I never met, in the hope that one day someone will walk the road for me.

After forsaking you, they will call you hero in their speeches

This release drops Thursday Oct. 15th at 9am PST.

Here:https://www.1xrun.com/collections/forsake/

In the Spring of this year, when there were massive PPE shortages among frontline COVID workers, I started contacting friends in China, Hong Kong and Cambodia to see if I could buy masks and supplies to donate to some of the hardest hit areas. While the United States government dragged its feet, unable to offer even basic protection to health care and other essential workers, I, as an ordinary citizen, was able to purchase around 1000 masks and distribute them to hospitals in need. It wasn’t particularly difficult, this administration simply lacked the will to protect the very people who were keeping us safe and risking their own well being. I spoke with hospital workers at the time who were reusing disposable masks for 4-5 days of 12 hour shifts. The very people who risked their own health everyday to keep us safe could not even be provided with the most basic items to allow them to perform their work safely.

This print “Forsake” is in response to that experience. “After forsaking you, they will call you hero in their speeches” is written across each image. It’s indicative of the sanctimonious gestures of this administration and politicians in general. While the essential workers were little more than an afterthought, their efforts are co-opted as public relations campaigns for leaders who failed to lead.

1Xrun and myself will use 100% of the purchase price of these to procure PPE and distribute it this coming Fall. Many in the medical field have suspected there may be a second wave of COVID this Fall. If I have learned anything from the Spring, it is not to assume this administration has any sort of plan or is even moderately prepared for this. Together, 1xrun and myself would like to be out in front of this and help. Should there be a second wave, the funds from the sale of this work will have created a small stockpile of PPE that we can quickly distribute to the facilities that need them most. That is the very least we can offer in appreciation of the relentless efforts of frontline workers.

By purchasing this print you are actually purchasing PPE to keep these workers safe and helping us stay prepared for the coming months.

Eddie Colla

Buy it here: https://www.1xrun.com/collections/forsake/

About the Print: There are 2 different versions of this print.

The first is a 16×20 inch giclee. Signed and numbered- edition of 50

The second are hand painted multiples 18×24 signed and numbered-Edition of 10

The HPMs are acetone transfer prints finished and stained with tinted shellac each is a unique piece.

4th of July 2020

Stars and bars
festering scars
there’s plenty to prove who we are
for independence
to a referendum on our descendants
monkeys waving flags
and the rest of us wanna end this shit.
Old glory, same story, don’t worry
flag unfurled and held so high
just look at the height of it
so high we’ve lost sight of it
ain’t really the fabric of the nation we see
just a 2 dollar sticker or 2 for three
Stick it on your truck
and fuck unity
Or take to the street and topple fake heroes
Risking infection
for a new direction
but fuck if we’ll do it for your
re-election
laws that invade a woman’s right to choose
but not a cops right to bruise
or abuse
or murder without motive
suspended with pay
light a votive
everyday
say your prayers and put them on shelves
The lord helps those who help themselves
tear gassing masses and forsaking the dead
to pose with a book you never read
at a church you’ve never been to
a code of decency you’ll never bend to
propaganda at its’ worst
C’mon now stand and quote a verse
silence….

Wisdom is harder than violence
and promises are easy
when you try less
and the less you do the less is expected
and the more people die
the more we accept it
leaders make promises for statues being erected
and everyday another 50,000 are infected
Let’s just cover our faces
try to erase this
make dedications to all the nameless and faceless
The red white and blue
black and blue
black and white too
Like none of us knew…
we have the nation we settled for
not less, not more
they never built the wall but they stopped immigration
turning the enviable into an plague ridden nation
a leper colony lead by a wanna be
a bloated messiah
an abomination
A nation of Pariahs and liars
now here we are trapped inside
our consequences
these invisible fences
bluster is cheap
but ignorance is expensive

The 2020 Republican National Convention

Reflecting on the past 3 1/2 years I proposed a montage that I felt told the story and the history quite well. Some found it too opinionated. It’s hard to convey the depth of a historically catastrophic administration in 3 minutes.

Personally, I think I nailed it.

Register to vote

https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote

Get answers

https://www.vote.org/

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/how-to-vote-2020/

Conception Vs Reception

I’ve been asked why I chose to make the above piece regarding racism. I didn’t exactly. I made a piece called “The Residue of Arrogance” which was mostly about my growing discontent with the United States and my choice to spend most of my time abroad. That decision had a lot to do with the direction in which my country has moved post 9/11. Certainly racism plays a role in those objections, but it was a much broader view of many consequences.
The thing that I find most interesting about the piece is what it has shown me. Many people have concluded that the piece is about racism. I imagine it has to do with my choice of using an African American model. Had I used a white model, I assume people’s reading of it would be different. However, based on people’s reactions, it is entirely clear how most people view the United States. Juxtapose an American Flag and an African American and the conclusion many people will make is that it is, of course, about racism. That’s how connected the image of the United States is to racism, it’s something people assume. What I was trying to convey was an erosion of freedoms and self censorship in a post 9/11 America. However, even in 2017 (which is when I made the original piece) the simple addition of a different skin color leads many people to assume an entirely different meaning. So, in it’s conception it wasn’t focused on racism, but in it’s reception it has become very much about race. This is how the piece talks back to me about it’s context.
As an artist, you begin to see the complexity of representation. In my mind the figure in the piece was simply an individual, an American. Yet because the figure is African American, to many people, the “individual” becomes a representation of an entire race of people. Isn’t that exactly what racism is? When people’s individual identity is eclipsed by their race?

Mural from Kings Spray festival with Streetarttoday in 2017

The Dafen Experiment

  As an artist I have always been fascinated with knockoffs. In the 90’s I would peruse the stalls of Canal Street in lower Manhattan sifting through piles of fake Rolexes in search of the best watch $10 could buy. In the 2000’s I would stock up on knockoff Calvin Klein underwear in Hong Kong for $2 a pair versus the genuine article at $22 a pair. In many cases I liked the knockoffs better. For example, real Calvin Klein underwear came only in a few select colors. The knockoffs, however, came in every color you could imagine. The fake Rolexes were available with these cool flex wristbands that Rolex never made. My fascination was with how often knockoffs also evolve. Copying is not just copying, it is also the doorway to creating.

    In 2018 I spent two months at Jardin Orange, an artist residency in Shenzhen, China. Shenzhen is China’s Silicon Valley, and most likely where your iPhone or laptop were manufactured. It’s been at the center of the ongoing battle over intellectual property theft between the U.S. and China for the past couple decades.

    In the 70’s, Shenzhen was little more than a fishing village. Then in 1979, it became one of five special economic zones in China, their first experiments with market capitalism. By the early 2000’s it was manufacturing 90% of the world’s electronics. Today, it is an international hub of tech innovation. It’s difficult to comprehend a city that has transformed itself at breakneck speed for the past four decades. Part of my job as an artist is to attempt to understand the places I travel to, and bring that understanding into my work, but Shenzhen was surreal to me. I am from Oakland, CA. I watched for 24 years as the eastern span of the Bay Bridge was replaced after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake – 24 years to replace half a bridge! In that time, Shenzhen had gone from a city of 647,000 to a city of 10,873,000 residents. By 2020, Shenzhen based companies like Huawei were outselling iPhone, and positioned to dominate 5G technology. Tencent had become not only the world’s largest video game company, but one of the largest social media platforms. Just 10 years ago, Shenzhen was more infamous for it’s “Shanzhai”, or counterfeit electronics; cheap knockoffs aimed at markets that could not afford the Western originals.

   Shenzhen is also home to “Dafen Village”. Dafen is a painting village. An urban village, or neighborhood, in the middle of the city. It is the place where, at one point, an estimated 60% of the world’s oil paintings were being painted. Hundreds of shops, usually with 2-3 painters working, line the labyrinth of the small streets. Painters overflow into alley ways, stalls, and onto the sidewalks. The surrounding streets have art supplies, framing, and canvas stretching services. It is a biosphere for painting.

    Much of what you see strolling Dafen are copies. Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso – even Keith Haring and Warhol copies sit alongside Chinese favorites Yue Minjun and Chen Wenling. Another big part of what you see is what I call lobby art. The art you see at hotels and office buildings; generic landscapes, florals, abstracts, elephants etc. The art you never notice, because it’s designed to be completely unobtrusive. It only exists because it stands out even less then a completely bare wall. Lastly, there are custom portraits. Wandering through Dafen, you’ll see 40 painters a day staring at cell phone screens, painting wedding and family portraits. I was amazed at how efficient and accurate many of then were. Considering many of them have probably painted 10 hours a day for the past 15 years, it would stand to reason. Painting there seems to be treated more as skilled labor and a source of income than it is as art. The painters range in talent from pretty awful to damn near masterful. The painters at Dafen are like the “Shanzhai” of art. Creating inexpensive knockoffs for a market with more limited budgets.

    I decided to do an experiment at Dafen Village to help me better understand Shenzhen as a city. I brought a poster I had designed to Dafen and hired a painter to copy it. It was a poster I had designed years ago, and as a street artist, I had wheat pasted on countless walls around the world.

I chose the poster for specific reasons; first, it had been created on a computer and had never actually been painted before. Secondly, it was mass produced on a web press, an inexpensive printing method generally used for newspapers. The evolution of knockoffs usually takes something of a relatively high quality and reproduces it in a cheaper or lower quality manner. My experiment was the opposite. I took a cheap mass produced poster and commissioned a hand-painted oil painting on canvas. The mere act of copying it in this manner would create something new.

    I chose a small painting stall at random from the hundreds of shops in Dafen. Inside was a man in his early 20’s. I showed him the poster I wanted copied. Let me preface this by explaining that I speak zero Mandarin, and these painters, for the most part, speak zero English. However, this was 2018 and technology had already solved this problem. WECHAT, the most popular texting app in China, has a built in translator, so here’s how it works: you walk into a shop and display your wechat QR code on your phone. The shop owner scans it, and you become “friends”– now you can talk. When you type the shop owner a message, they can read it in Chinese, and when they reply, you can read it in English. It’s an odd interaction. You’re standing 18 inches from someone, both looking at your phones texting back and forth. It may seem impersonal, but 20 years ago we would not be able to communicate at all and this entire experiment wouldn’t be possible. We agree on a price of $55 USD to make the painting. He tells me it’ll be done in about a week and he’ll text me. Five days later I get a message. The painter boastfully tells me he is finished and the effect is PERFECT! 

   It was better than expected for $55 and the cheap poster was now an oil painting on canvas. By copying the cheap poster, we had actually created something of greater value. The evolution needed to continue though. I walked about 2 blocks, picked another random shop and handed the shop owner my newly received painting along with my phone displaying my QR code. “Can you copy this?” I text. He nodded and quoted me a price. The second painter was now making a copy of a copy. I did this for 7 weeks, picking up each subsequent copy and turning it over to another painter. The third painter copied the second version, the fourth painter copied the third version, and so on. By the sixth painting, I had something very different than what I started with. Even when the goal was to produce a facsimile, we unavoidably, either through miscommunication, artistic license or bad technique, had moved far from the original.

    A friend in China warned me that if I took work to be copied at Dafen it was likely they would continue to copy it. That seemed unlikely to me. I responded, however, “Wouldn’t that be great? The image would continue to evolve and change in ways I would never have considered”. The artist in me appreciates the philosophy of the “Shanzhai” because within it exists the core understanding that imitation fosters innovation. Imitation is a cornerstone of learning, particularly to anyone who’s studied art. My time in Shenzhen forced me to examine these ideas both in art and in the discourse about intellectual property. At the core of both, there is merely an idea. Ideas should not be heirlooms tucked away and preserved or only occasionally observed. Ideas, should be more like children. Something we give the best of ourselves to and send out in the world to change and grow in ways we never imagined. When we look condescendingly upon the forger, or the counterfeit object as a desecration of the original, we are ignoring the possibility of evolution or innovation. We are ignoring that as individuals, or as a generation even, we have finite resources to cultivate an idea. For any idea to continue growing, whether it be cultural or technological, it will need to be taken up by the next individual or generation and fed a new source of perspectives, skill sets, and inspirations.

Shenzhen and it’s Shanzai philosophy are often debased by Western culture. Partially because, in my opinion, it audaciously stands as the apprentice positioned to surpass the master, in part, because it understands copying is the doorway to creating, if you choose to walk through it.

Eddie Colla

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

Ambition – Etched Metal Plate Release

As a Pow Wow Hawaii Alumni I was asked to be  part of  1xrun’s Pow Wow Hawaii Print Series this year. I decided to do an edition of the piece I did at Pow Wow 2012.

PW-2012-1

I produced 2 versions of the “Ambition” image as chemical etched metal plates. Each plate is .030″ and 16×20 inches They are available in stainless steel, edition of 100 and Brass edition of 15. Each edition is signed and numbered and comes with a certificate of authenticity from myself and 1xrun. These drop Monday, February 22nd at 12noon PST. The brass edition is available HERE and the stainless steel edition is  HERE

ambition-Combined

The etching process gives the surface an engraved or intaglio of the image which is then filled with paint. I choose this process to give the pieces some weight and dimensionality and create an object more than a print. eddie-colla-ambition-18x24-gold-1xrun-05eddie-colla-ambition-18x24-silver-1xrun-05aeddie-colla-ambition-18x24-silver-1xrun-06a