Such a cool idea ~ an unknown street artist merged iconic cultural symbols to make a cool piece of art. They used the image of Banksy’s rebel throwing flowers, Brussels’ number one representative image of its city – Manneken Pis – and frites, one of the main dishes Brussels is known for. Brilliant. In addition, I brought some friends along – NYC’s Primate by artist Joseph Meloy, The Tribal Mask by Bogota-based Aussie artist CRiSP, and WOPS! Festival promos for The Walk on The Pink Side Festival happening in Toulouse, France in October (16-18,) hosted by my favorite artist, French phenom FAFI.
In the East Village the other day, I came upon my favorite buddy in the streets: Joseph Meloy’s ‘Primate!’ The first two you’ll see are definitely some of the earlier renderings of it before he evolved into the handsome ape he is today:
One of my favorite images ever that confronts me all around NYC, is the “Primate,” by Joseph Meloy. And although he considers himself less of a street artist and more of an abstract artist, he still appreciates the fame his primate is garnering. To him, his street work is “punk rock,” while his abstracts are more “jazz.”
TOKIDOKI: Mostly it’s the impulses of the subconscious that pour out to create your abstract expressions. But, I first came upon your ‘Primate’ whilst scouring the streets and there’s something quite tangible about the image. Where did it come from? What does it represent?
J. MELOY: Well, I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of human evolution, the original ape-like man…and the primate just shines a light on the fine line between man and monkey. I’m not into doing anything overly sociopolitical, I’m tapping into the absurdist quality; it’s an intentional counterpoint to the abstract stuff I do.
TD: Yeah, the “Don’t stop! Get it! Get it!” Money in his mouth…
JM: Yeah, exactly. Absurd. Comical. I hope people will walk by him and smile. See the joke in it all.
TOKIDOKI: I am guessing that three of the most influential artists for you are Haring, Basquiat, and Pollock…
J. MELOY: Oh, for sure. Plus, Miro and David Smith. I grew up with Haring around and Basquiat is definitely one of the reasons I got into art. My abstract stuff is definitely influenced by an awareness of what Pollock did.
TD: Can your work be found in any other countries?
JM: No primate on the streets like in NYC, but yeah, I’ve sold prints that have made their ways to Ireland, Australia, Vienna…
TOKIDOKI: Do you like Banksy? Why/Why not?
J. MELOY: Yes, for sure. He’s extremely clever!
TD: Again, I know your abstract work, it’s subconscious…so are you saying that you have no specific message that you are trying to get out to the world?
JM: Well, I’m sure that I like the idea of ‘no boundaries,’ of creativity, and the exploration into instinct…
TOKIDOKI: What do you ultimately hope to achieve with your art in the future?
J. MELOY: I’m going to keep creating, naturally, and see what happens, but I definitely want to inspire other people to think more about art, to make art… (“Don’t Stop! Get it! Get it!) sorry, TOKIDOKI interjected…
TOKIDOKI: Where did you get the name Vandal Expressionism? (I think it’s brilliant!) What does it mean?
J. MELOY: I know exactly when the concept came to life for me… It was in August 2010 and for months prior, I had been taking notes, contemplating ideas, exploring the concepts of value, damage, expression, and questioning ‘what is graffiti?’. I consider Vandal Expressionism to represent a form of post-graffiti. I liken the gestural speed with which I draw a reaction to tagging. And the ‘vandal’ aspect isn’t literal as much as it is just a way that I stylistically sometimes draw something clean and clear, and then fuck it up, and then go back over it and make it clean again in a new way.
This isn’t the last you’ll see of J. Meloy on Tokidoki. Stay tuned for pictorial posts on some of his commissioned work as well as sticker slaps around NYC.
Thanks, Joseph, for answering my questions and for giving me a tour of your apartment/studio…
In the four days I’ve been in the city, I’ve seen J. Meloy’s primate in Five Pointz (Queens,) near the Bowery in the Lower East side, and in Chinatown. It makes me wonder where else I could find him if I had longer…I love me a good monkey paste-up: