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Feature | Elisabeth Calmes

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CRASH/ John Matos

[caption id="attachment_6599" align="alignnone" width="600"] John Matos | CRASH | 26"h, 84.25"w Oil on Canvas[/caption]

A Pioneer of Graffiti Movement

Born in 1961, in the Bronx, New York, Matos took his alias after he unintentionally crashed the computer in his high school. As a teenager growing up in the Bronx, CRASH grew up riding the subways in NYC and using sides of wagons as canvases. Working alongside other pioneering American Graffiti artists, such as Dondi White and Zephyr, CRASH’s bold, blocky signature graffiti on trains began to appear throughout the city. The first years of the 1980s were the turning point of his career when he started transitioning from trains to galleries.

From Graffiti to Galleries

In October 1980, 19-year-old CRASH curated the pivotal exhibition entitled Graffiti Art Success for America at Fashion MODA in the South Bronx. The show, which included work by artists such as Futura 2000Lady Pink, and John Fekner, was one of the first to allow the writers to paint directly on the walls and facade of the gallery. This groundbreaking exhibition has played a crucial part in legitimizing the graffiti movement. It opened up new possibilities for graffiti in a gallery setting connecting street artists and the downtown fine arts world, with CRASH as a pioneer.

Exhibitions and Collections

In the following years, CRASH started exhibiting his artworks across the US, as well as overseas. In 1983, he had solo show at Sidney Janis Gallery, and one year later, Crash had a breakthrough in France – alongside such legends as Robert Combas, François Boisrond, Hervé di Rosa, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring, he participated at the exhibition named 5/5: Figuration Libre, France/USA at the Museum of Modern Art of Paris. Since then, his oeuvre has been exhibited in more than 150 shows in museums and galleries throughout the world. His work is included in such notable collections as the MoMA in New York and the Groningen Museum in the Netherlands. He has partnered with many companies for brand collaborations including Absolut Vodka, Levi’s, Ferrari and more. For Fender Musical Instruments, he painted guitar amps and famous “Crushocasters” guitars, played by such guitarists as Eric Clapton and John Mayer.

Matos’ work has been included in more than 150 

CRASH a.k.a. John Matos crashone.com

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TOBIASSE   [caption id="attachment_6563" align="alignnone" width="606"]T-01 | Tobiasse | Lithograph | 38 x 27 inches T-01 | Tobiasse | Lithograph | 38 x 27 inches | fleur de Cantique[/caption]    

Théo Tobiasse was born in Israel in 1927. Originally from Lithuania, his family hoped to find the promised land there. The work of this artist is pervaded with the themes of exile, of the woman as a mother and a lover and of reminiscences of his childhood in Lithuania, as his parents had to move back there. The datcha in the middle of the green countryside of Kaletova, the lights of the steamers enhanced with colored flags going down the Niémen, the sledges in the snow-covered streets of Kovno, but also the round tea-pots and the paunchy samovars, symbols of the familial warmth… After crossing through Germany and Berlin, Tobiasse arrives in Paris in 1931 where only a sad and gray station welcomes him. Then follow the dark years of the Nazi occupation, during which the family, although hidden during two years, is decimated. After the Liberation, Tobiasse only dreams of light, sun and a huge sky. He settles down in Nice, then in Saint-Paul de Vence where he makes the fascinating discovery of the moon landscape of the Saint-Barnabé plateau, at the Col of Vence. It will become his first painting. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam offers him a second revelation: the Jewish bride by Rembrandt unveils the mystery of the material and the colors to him. He understands everything about glaze, mixtures and chiaroscuro… Memories come back as scraps of his memory and unwind themselves at the end of his paintbrushes : the Woman as a mother and lover, the exile, the exultation of the senses, drawing, blended colors, music, and his travels are mixed in a poetic magma set against the background of Venice, New York and Jerusalem, his towns of predilection. Words and sentences charged with emotion always come punctuate his work, not to explain it but to prolong it… Painting, sculpture, carborundum etching, pastel, drawing, pottery, stained glass are his tools to express the swallowed emotions. Theo Tobiasse lived and worked in Saint-Paul de Vence. He died on November 3, 2012.

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