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Vertical Gallery brings Miami heat to Chicago with all-star winter group show

Posted on November 22, 2020 by Patrick Hull

Vertical Gallery, Chicago’s premier urban-contemporary art gallery, presents “Miami in Chicago,” a winter group show running Dec. 1–26, 2020.

“Miami in Chicago” features new work from the same talent — Martin Whatson, Alex Face, Mau Mau, Collin van der Sluijs, Joseph Renda Jr., Mysterious Al and David Heo — that Vertical planned to feature in Miami Beach in conjunction with Art Basel’s postponed Miami Art Week 2020 event. Vertical kicks off the month-long exhibit Tuesday, Dec. 1 from noon to 6:00 pm at the gallery’s 1016 N. Western Ave location.

“Just because the in-person art fairs have been cancelled doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate the artists that have been working all year on their collection of work,” says Patrick Hull, owner of Vertical Gallery. “We have a very strong group show roster for Miami Art Week, and are excited to feature all of the artists in our Chicago gallery for the entire month of December.”

“Miami in Chicago” gathers artists from across the globe:

Martin Whatson is a Norwegian street artist best known for calligraphic scribbles in grayscale voids. Over the past decade, Whatson has developed an unmistakable aesthetic combining abstract movement with figurative stenciled compositions: His works mirror the rise and fall of the streets, as he symbolically recreates the urban environment, then vandalizes it to reveal his vibrant transformations.

Alex Face is one of Thailand’s most respected and prolific street artists. On the surface, his work appears playful and lighthearted, but upon closer inspection each of his pieces explores deeper themes of poverty, environmental crisis and the present and future of society. His iconic bunny character, Mardi — initially inspired by his daughter — represents the feeling of confronting a troubled world as a vulnerable child.

Mau Mau is a renowned British urban graffiti artist who’s gained an international following with his humorous street, print and graffiti work. His efforts incorporate political, environmental and cultural commentary, often featuring his trademark character, a mischievous and fun-loving fox. With roots planted in the surf and country vibes of the North Devon coast, Mau Mau brings an air of rural sophistication to the art he has been creating for 20 years.

Collin van der Sluijs is a category-defying Netherlands-based artist whose dreamlike, deeply personal work employs a rich color palette and vibrant brush strokes evoking the Dutch masters of centuries past. His third and most recent Vertical Gallery solo exhibit, 2020’s “A Garden of Trust,” revealed profound new depths and dimensions, with van der Sluijs drawing on influences as diverse as vintage comics and his grandfather’s exotic bird aviary to produce his most ambitious, immersive canvases to date.

Joseph Renda Jr. is a Chicago-based artist whose paintings capture the symbiotic connection between humans and the natural world. Inspired by leaders in surrealism including Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte, Renda often depicts highly realistic human forms interwoven with illusive natural elements; his use of classical oil painting methods and modern materials, such as spray paint, provide his work with a distinct combination of old and new artistic techniques.

Mysterious Al is an Australian-based contemporary artist who rose to fame in the early 2000’s alongside contemporaries/fellow street art pioneers D*face and Banksy, developing a notoriety for wall paintings, paste-ups and street installations. His latest paintings are based on ancient tribal masks, reimagined in wild contemporary colors. His work is striking and at first glance intimidating — but look closer, and you’ll see pieces that poke fun at man’s vulnerable psyche and fragile sense of self.

David Heo is a Chicago-based artist known for paintings and collages using non-traditional materials like crayons, house paint and construction paper. Named one of New City’s Breakout Artists for 2020, Heo’s visceral, provocative work frequently documents observations and experiences from his own life, with an emphasis on the complex, emotionally charged interactions taking place in bars, nightclubs and other after-hours milieus. “Honey and Smoke” — his debut solo show at Vertical in March 2020 — sold out on opening night.

Miami in Chicago
December 1 - 26, 2020
Opening day, Tuesday, December 1st, noon - 6:00pm
Vertical Gallery, 1016 N Western Ave., Chicago

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Alex Face and MUEBON make their USA debut!

Posted on August 29, 2019 by Patrick Hull

Alex Face, MUEBON Make U.S. Debut with Vertical Gallery’s ‘Mythical Creatures’

Vertical Gallery, Chicago’s premier urban-contemporary art gallery, is very proud to present “Mythical Creatures,” the first-ever U.S. showing of Alex Face and MUEBON, two of Asia’s most acclaimed and incisive street artists.

“Mythical Creatures,” which runs from August 10-31, 2019, spotlights all-new works from Alex Face and MUEBON, both featured within the famed Souled Out Studios collective of artists. Alex Face and MUEBON will attend the “Mythical Creatures” opening reception, taking place at Vertical’s 1016 N. Western Ave. location from 6:00-9:00 pm on Saturday, Aug. 10.

“Alex Face and MUEBON are going to introduce people to a different style of street art than they’ve seen before,” said Patrick Hull, Vertical Gallery owner and founder. “These are two of the biggest Asian street artists — both are character-based, and there’s deep meaning in the messages they’re getting across, so pairing them is a natural fit. We’re thrilled to host their U.S. debut exhibition.”

Thailand native Alex Face (born Patcharapol Tangruen) is best known for his signature character Mardi, a three-eyed child often presented in a fuzzy rabbit costume. Inspired by the artist’s own young daughter, Mardi is by turns world-weary and wry, challenging viewers to consider the legacy that our children will inherit as well as what the future holds for successive generations. Long a fixture across the Bangkok cityscape and the Thai countryside, Mardi now adorns walls in locations including Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Jakarta, Oslo, Amsterdam and Paris — and soon, Chicago.

Alex Face discovered American graffiti art while studying fine arts at Bangkok’s King Mongktut University Institute of Technology, soon acquiring two cans of spray paint — one red, the other white — which he put to creative use on his own car. At first he painted his name, then moved on to depicting his face, a flourish that inspired the Alex Face moniker. His work has since gained recognition across the globe: in 2018, he occupied the Bank of Thailand Learning Center during the first Bangkok Art Biennale, and the following year, he exhibited in the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy. Alex Face has also collaborated with high-profile brands like COACH and Mercedes Benz.

Bangkok-based MUEBON (real name: classified) is renowned for biting social commentary on subjects spanning from wealth disparity to environmental activism to the pervasive influence of contemporary media — messages he delivers via his rotating cast of colorful characters, including a flightless cartoon bird named PUKRUK and Mr. TV, possessor of a television screen face. MUEBON is perhaps most synonymous with his Mickey Mouse-inspired skull stickers and wheatpastes, memento mori urging viewers to expel their feelings of anger, frustration and hopelessness in favor of embracing acceptance and finding inner peace.

A product of the first generation of Thai street artists, MUEBON has played a pivotal role in propelling the craft to notoriety and respect across his homeland — and beyond. Raised in the slums of Thonburi, MUEBON (an alias translating to “fidgety hands”) grew up obsessed with Japanese manga. He began his graffiti art career as a teen, often painting under the cover of darkness to avoid the local police, and defied the odds to earn a fine arts degree, in 2005 graduating with honors from the Rajamangala Institute of Technology. While street art remains MUEBON’s passion, he also has exhibited paintings and sculptures in galleries across Southeast Asia, Australia, Japan and Moscow, and in 2018 he partnered with luxury label Hermès.

‘'For over 10 years I’ve seen both MUEBON and Alex Face paint tirelessly on the streets, day in and day out, with incredibly recognizable styles,” said Chris Bowden, co-founder of Souled Out Studios. “Both artists don’t just have borderless skill with a spray can, but also with oils, watercolor, sculpture and print, making their translation into the gallery seamless.”

Alex Face and MUEBON
Mythical Creatures
August 10-31, 2019
Opening reception with artists, Saturday, August 10th, 6:00-9:00pm
Vertical Gallery, 1016 N. Western Ave., Chicago

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