Eric Haze's New Mathematics opened last Saturday at Known Gallery in Los Angeles. The exhibition shares the artist's explorations within his own personal vocabular. The 35 paintings and 15 drawings included draw from his history in graphic design and grafitti, showcasing Haze's brilliant handstyle and express an evolution in his experimentation with organic form.
Known for work with the Beastie Boys (and much more in music), as well as commercial projects with Casio and Nike, Haze is recognized for three decades of iconic design. On the occassion of New Mathematics, Complex connected with Haze to discuss his new works and what the future holds for graffiti.
New Mathematics runs through October 8, 2011.
Known Gallery, 441 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA.
Continue on to read the interview.
Tell me about "New Mathematics"? What are the inspirations and themes of the new work?
"New Mathematics" represents a linear progression of the personal artwork that I have been developing over the last 5 years. Along with always carefully controlling the final results in my design and product based work, I also started challenged myself to create more organic artwork that revolved around a celebration of natural line quality, motion and the beauty of imperfection. Using type and certain recognizable icons as my first points of departure, I have continued working towards also synthesizing these elements with my love of abstraction and geometry.
My work has always been deeply rooted in balance and symmetry, starting all the way back with my original graffiti name SE3, which I created as more of a symbol than name with inherent meaning. In many ways, with "New Mathematics", I have gone all the way back to this original essence.
But where some of my earlier fine artwork had been more reductionist in terms of it's approach, this body of work incorporates much more complex dynamics, with certain algorithms having taken on a life of their own. Hopefully, this collection achieves a kind of transparency between all of the mediums I have always been involved in, while still clearly representing the direction of a new language I have now established for myself.
There are 35 paintings and 15 drawings in the show. How does medium shape your process? Is there anything different to consider when working with different tools?
Up until recently, I had kind of separated what was drawn as opposed to what what was painted. But, now as I become more comfortable within both languages, I am able to integrate my working process to clearly reflect the drawings within the paintings.
In some of the more layered pieces, the immediacy of the initial line quality is defined against the cleaner, more labored detail of the paint work.
Some of the paintings have also been left in their outline form only, where I wanted the purity of line quality to be understood on it's own terms. The same is true for the drawings on paper, which serve as blueprints for many of the progressions that later become realized more fully in the paintings.
What's it like showing in LA? Do you see the city's reception to street art as a whole different after the MOCA show?
Y'know, I lived, worked and built my brand from LA for over 10 years before returning home to NY, so I have deep roots there and have always had much love for LA. Obviously, the MoCA show focussed a lot of attention to LA, and it was great to see so many of the true heads there celebrated for the great work they had been putting down for years.
I think the residual effects are definitely still in play there now, especially seeing a lot of leading east coast artists showing here this season too. it's no coincidence that I planned my next major show out here either, knowing that this was becoming one of the important playing fields for artists within our movement.
Known Gallery is one of the galleries out here being run by people who have been born out of and fully support the same culture I feel most aligned with. I actually did the very first inaugural show at Known with my Stussy collabo installation in 2009, and the directors and I have also been fam through the street wear movement since the early 90's.
Known Gallery has emerged as a legitimate platform for many artists within the current movement, and I believe - like the work itself I am presenting in this exhibition - they also manage to exist in the fertile grounds between fine art, design and graffiti roots. The Fairfax district has definitely emerged as a legitimate epicenter for all of these worlds too.
I'm interested in what you think of other artists that stretch traditional notions of typography and symbolism - like RETNA and SheOne - both are unique, but also represent a new trend in pushing graffiti roots a little beyond the norm.
For sure, these are the elements that interest me most, both in my own work and that of of my peers. I am a huge fan of Retna's work and what it represents, and his ability to present his language in black and white and such minimalist terms also speaks very much to me.
Greg Lamrache ( aka SP-One ) is also doing an installation of new work deeply rooted in type and abstraction along side me at Known this time,
and I definitely consider his current styles some of the best and most original work being done by artists originally born out of the graffiti movement.
Other artists who deal in these notions whom I greatly respect and admire include Delta, Mare 139, Saber, Remi, Chaz, Push and West.
Where do you see graffiti going in the future?
I think there are a few different roads graffiti is traveling at the moment, call it the high road and the low road. the graffiti movement in it's purest ( illegal ) form continues to evolve and gain momentum worldwide, while it's evolution as a legal medium above ground has never been more potent and interesting too. The work that modern masters like Revok, Rime and Pose do with aerosol these days is mind-blowing, and there are heads all over the world doing amazing pieces almost daily. Plus, of course, graffiti continues to impact graphic design and advertising, and will remain permanently ingrained into the landscape of modern typography too.
The attention given to the MoCA show definitely raised the profile of the movement and made graffiti more of a "buzz word" again than it has been for a while, but at the same time, I believe the focus given to the notion of so called "street art" has also created a bit of a distortion.
Modern graffiti in it's deepest roots and tradition has always been about writing you name, and to me, the true essence of graffiti will always be based on letterforms and the stylization of the written word.
As an art form that is now over four decades old, it continues to evolve and progress on many levels in many mediums, but no matter how abstract or what other forms we may individually choose to express it through, there is still an underlying original blueprint that we all honor, and no substitute for a fresh tag, throw up or piece outline.
Finally, If you were to do another album cover, who would it be for?
Jay-Z, Eminem, Lil Wayne or Kanye...why shoot for less than the current holders of the crowns? But if I had a time machine...Jimi Hendrix, definitely, hands down.
All photography: Carlos Gonzalez.