Walk down Morgan Avenue, past Owen Dippie’s recent mural of Renaissance artists sporting Mutant Ninja Turtle masks, and you’ll get to ASVP’s latest, “Triple Crown.” The black-and-white painting on the side of Sugarlift gallery shows three horses, all clean lines and free-flowing manes. “It’s derived from a larger theme that we’ve incorporated into some of our recent work,” a member of the anonymous duo told us. “The concept of finding wildness.”
It’s a long way away from ASVP’s previous work in advertising and graphic art. Now they travel worldwide (most recently to Art Basel Switzerland) exhibiting their pop-culture inspired pieces – many of which are sketched by hand before being digitally drawn and enlarged. We spoke to ASVP as they started preparing for a massive new show that will take one and a half to two years to complete. We know that the project will be displayed at a gallery and will involve “paper, canvas, and structural objects,” but not much else. These guys sure do like mystery…
How does your street art, like this mural, fit into the larger context of New York?
A lot of the work that is seen on the street is super aggressive and unrestrained in a lot of ways, which makes sense because in New York to be heard you have to scream. You can’t speak because of how many voices there are out there on the street, on the walls and on top of each other. With this opportunity, since we had this sanctioned space, we wanted to speak with a slightly more restrained voice and I think that it works against some of the more colorful, louder pieces that are around it and throughout the neighborhood.
What motivated the “unbridled energy” in the horse mural?
That piece is derived from an earlier image of the entire horse. We have a cowboy on a horse and it’s actually the horse’s head that was cropped in on and then multiplied. It nods to some of our work and inspiration earlier on that was breaking away from the more controlled, corporate lifestyle that we were in. We’re celebrating our freedom in a certain sense. We decided to take a step out of that corporate structure and take our chances at something that was riskier but ultimately more fulfilling creatively. And more meaningful.
Do you think there is hope for the world of advertising and commercial art that you chose to step away from? Or is it a curse on society?
Marketing is becoming more integrated into the content, which I think is a dangerous area. It becomes less transparent and it becomes a bit more subliminal as to what it’s intending to do. It starts to tred in more brain-washy, sneaky territory for me, which I think is a bad thing. In my experience there were a lot of creative people who I met and worked with in advertising — very talented people — and I think that all too often their talent was stuffed into these efforts.
When did you create the image addressing the Trayvon Martin shooting that recently surfaced on Instagram?
That piece was done days after he was shot. It was right when the issue was in the news and a lot of gun control stuff was being spoken about. We created it and for some reason we never released it into the wild, but it does exist. I’m glad it was resurrected recently because a lot of work went into it and I do think it’s a powerful piece.
Can you tell me where you see the culture of street art right now and where you see it going?
More people are having the confidence and courage to put their work out there publicly for people to see. I think that this is a good thing. It speaks to the concept of democracy, speaking freely and having voices out there other than corporations and government. And all of that is very positive. Whether I agree with all of it or whether I think all of it is good is a different story.
I do think there are several artists who are doing really significant work that’s going to last. It will contribute to a larger statement that’s looked at for a long time to come.
Both you and your partner have purposefully remained anonymous. Is it that because you’re doing work that isn’t sanctioned?