Mint (Mikhail Sokovikov) and Serf (Jason Aaron Wall) have been my longtime friends and occasional collaborators since 2009 -- to add to the story we met on the streets of Chelsea (because where else do you meet real graffiti artists?) many years ago. With an uncompromised view on how their art should be, I always like to hear their straightforward point of view which tends to be raw and unadulterated.
For the past few years, “The Mirf” have done so many collaborations that I lost track of them: from window tagging (commissioned by Marc Jacobs, no less, for one of his Bleecker Street boutiques) to the art curation of the Ace Hotel in New York City and mural painting in several of the hotel rooms to recently designing a limited-edition bottle of perfume for the New York Yankees.
They have a fantastic studio downtown with an enormous skylight and all the walls are covered with giant-sized spray-painted canvases. And there’s a viewing room, separated from the chaos of the actual working studio: because Mikhail and Jason make their art pumped by the same amount of adrenaline and emotion as if it were to be made clandestinely on the streets. And it’s participative: sometimes their friends also grab spray cans or markers and start tagging as needed. “Chaos” is a word that they use frequently. In fact, their most recent monograph “Support, Therapy and Instability” documents many of these encounters and how the commotion of the city, the artists’ internal turmoil and finding inspiration on societal misfits of sorts, gives shape to their work.
In the viewing room there’s a red sculpture made of concrete that looks as if it were easily suspended on the wall. But in reality it needed an enormous metal piece on the back of the wall to lend support to it and the piece itself must weigh more than 150 lbs. What I like is that everything is a natural extension of what they do and it’s all coherently woven together. They aren’t interested in stripping graffiti from their original nature, they don’t want to glamorize it or make it unnecessarily pretty.
On January 15, Mint & Serf will open a new solo show at the NoRomance Gallery in Tribeca. The exhibit is called Gorgeous Features (titled after the painting below).
Regarding the context of this new show Mint tells me that “I think of our work for this show as an attempt to get to the emotional truth through expression. Reducing the gimmick and exposing the nervous system. Some of these paintings take a very long time to paint and some we completely destroy and start over. We are constantly battling and fighting with these paintings and often we both lose.”
Mint & Serf
January 15, 2015
New York, NY 10013