Vertical Gallery is very proud to present ‘GANG,’ a new solo exhibition from Chicago-based street artist Joseph “Sentrock” Perez. ‘GANG,’ which runs from April 16 to May 15 at Vertical Project Space’s West Town location (2006 W. Chicago Ave. #1R; enter via the alley off Damen Ave.), features more than two dozen illustrations and mixed-media pieces exploring life, love and loss through the lens of a young Latino male in 21st-century America — a deeply personal, bravely confessional body of work representing Sentrock’s boldest achievement to date.
‘GANG’ (an acronym for “God’s Angels Never Gone”) draws extensively on Sentrock’s relationships with family and friends in his native Phoenix, Ariz., channeling their triumphs and tragedies to address the realities facing Latino culture and community.
“A lot of my family members are struggling to deal with the system, and I’ve been struggling with survivor’s guilt and feeling like I haven’t done enough for them,” Sentrock says. “Much of my work speaks to seeking freedom — seeking hope, or some sort of escape. But this body of work reveals what I was trying to escapefrom. There was a lot of reflection during the process of creating this work. It’s very raw, very organic.”
Sentrock’s bird-mask character — a recurring symbol of freedom throughout his career — is largely absent from ‘GANG.’ In its place is a motif depicting a ski mask with mourning doves emerging from its eyes. “It’s still me, still my work, but it doesn’t have my signature character,” Sentrock says. “Even when I take the bird mask away, the narrative is still the same. It’s an authentic representation of a young Latino and his environment.”
The self-taught Sentrock began writing graffiti as a teen, initially crediting his efforts to “Sent” (a derivative of “heaven sent”) before adopting his current alias, which also references his passion for breakdancing culture. In addition to murals across Chicago and throughout the U.S., Sentrock has collaborated with brands including the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, Converse and Toyota.