Chekos (Lecce, 1977), graphic artist, muralist and street artist, moved very young to Milan where he entered the local underground scene. From the very beginning he explores various types of urban writing, letting himself be guided by the need to test his personal expressive style and to experiment with immediate communication methods in opposition to the exclusive logic of the niche. To make an indelible mark on the inhabited space – and over time Chekos has left traces of himself in several Italian cities and abroad, also painting walls in Xiemen (China), Yogyakarta (Indonesia), Tetovo (Macedonia), Valona (Albania) – is for the artist a way to recount the soul of a place by reconstructing its historical memory with symbolic images with high iconic and emotional impact. For this reason, in the last years he has moved from the old school lettering of the beginning of his career to portrait on an environmental scale, by painting on the external walls of buildings giant images of anonymous or famous faces uniformed by a peculiar optical style. What interests him is not indeed the identity of the subjects depicted, who may be cultural personalities, musicians, actors, but also characters from the past, quotes from art history or perfect strangers, but the intensity of a look or an attitude, a detail that tells an individual story that painting makes universal.
In Bologna in 2017 Chekos created a large mural on the facade of the Aldini-Valeriani Technical Institute to celebrate Antonio Gramsci on the occasion of the eightieth anniversary of his death and last September he returned to Emilia Romagna to pay homage to the memory of the photographer Marco Pesaresi with an environmental painting in Savignano sul Rubicone during the Si Fest, an annual festival dedicated to photography, independent publishing and visual arts. The work was realized with the curatorship of Antonio Storelli and Massimo Cattafi of Portanova12, who decided to follow this collaboration by inaugurating the exhibition season with a solo show of the artist, currently underway at the gallery.
The Op Street exhibition brings together a series of recent works focusing on the theme of the portrait interpreted in a pop optical key. The repetition of identical subjects on flat backgrounds of pure and vivacious color has the dual function of isolating the image from its original context and making it emblematic and objective, while the plot of segmented lines and dots that structure the figures create a vertiginous and an unsettling three-dimensionality when viewed from a distance and a wavy, uneven surface when the observer approaches. The screened effect is obtained with the use of stencils, whose meticulous realization before real painting is the most fascinating part of the artist’s creative process. In the construction of the stencil, in fact, Chekos interprets the compositional lines of the image he chooses to reproduce as elements of a self-supporting system with which he experiments various ways of abstraction. The result is a sculptural and negative version of the figure that will appear on the pictorial support, a network of connections that radiate in space starting from a central point like the circles formed by a stone thrown into the water.
These formal re-elaborations underline the intent of capturing the essential traits of each subject in order to return it as an exemplary manifestation of an ethical message or of an existential condition and abolish every hierarchy of value between known and anonymous characters. On show in Portanova 12 we find the portraits of Umberto Eco, Jo Cassano, Irma Bandiera and Renée Perle (model and femme fatale of the thirties), a Giuditta Caravaggesca, The Lady with the Ermine of Leonardo and a series of African faces in traditional clothes, along with other intriguing faces of women whose identity we do not know. Their side-by-side presence overcomes the epochal and geographical barriers to create an intense gallery of glances and expressions that refer to each other in the dense time of a shared and choral experience.
Chekos’Art. Op Street
October 12 – November 17 2018
Via Portanova 12 Bologna
Graduated in art history at DAMS in Bologna, city where she continued to live and work, she specialized in Siena with Enrico Crispolti. Curious and attentive to the becoming of the contemporary, she believes in the power of art to make life more interesting and she loves to explore its latest trends through dialogue with artists, curators and gallery owners. She considers writing a form of reasoning and analysis that reconstructs the connection between the artist’s creative path and the surrounding context.