The lines drip as if the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. logo were melting or crying. A little different than the drips and splotches found on the logo for ARTKABINETT social network for fine art collectors.
The painting is meant to symbolize the investment bank's collapse two years ago, the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history and a precursor of the global financial crisis.
The 32-inch-by-52-inch work at Manhattan's Gallery De Buck in Chelsea will soon have company.
Other canvases are adorned with the unblemished logos of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bear Stearns Cos., Merrill Lynch & Co. and Bank of America Corp.
The French artist who created them, 32-year-old Aghirre Schwarz, plans to add dripping lines to each, a process he calls "liquidating."
"My painting shows that Lehman Brothers was not so solid," he said in accented English at the gallery. ìAnd that the most solid things in appearance one day change.î
The jarring image is illustrative of Schwarz's roots as a graffiti artist. He often goes by the sobriquet "Zeus," spelled "ZEVS." He is named after a regional train, Zeus, that almost ran him over one day he was down in the metro.
Working with other French names of the second half of the 1990s like AndrÈ and Invader, Zevs has been among the prominent figures who pioneered the French street art scene.
By the end of the 90's he became known for his poetic drawings of shadows in Paris. Later he 'bombed' models on the billboards between the eyes.
Though his interventions have been very popular, it has been discussed in France whether it is vandalism or art.
Zevs' Visual Kidnapping in BerlinIn 2002 he cut out a model of a gigantic Lavazza-poster at Alexanderplatz in Berlin. Above the hole in the poster he wrote: "VISUAL KIDNAPPING - PAY NOW!" This intervention not only struck a chord with art lovers and people in Berlin. It has also inspired political activists. Stealing an image from a poster in Germany is now spoken of in the media as a visual kidnapping.
"Visual kidnapping is like entering an interactive game: If the brand on the billboard kidnaps the attention of the public with the purpose of consumer demand, I reverse the situation and I kidnap the model on the poster and I demand a ransom of 500,000 euros from the brand.
This sum represents the symbolic price of an advertising campaign for the brand."
Zevs has been doing what he calls 'proper graffiti' since the beginning of the 00s, where he writes on dirty walls with a high pressure jet.
"In the logic of walls made dirty by graffiti, Zevs, the graffiti writer end author of painted shadows has executed proper graffiti. It is about graffiti painted by use of a high pressure jet on walls." Alain Milon in PrÈtentaine, 16/17, Winter 2003-04
Since the mid-00s Zevs has become famous for his work with dripping brand logos. A beautiful illusion is created by the dripping paint from the logos, giving them an appearance of dissolving.
In 2009, Zevs has his first solo show, Liquidated Logos, in Asia at Hong Kong-based gallery Art Statements, documenting how ZEVS cleverly distorts the logos of big brands. He kickstarted the exhibition by daubbing a dripping, black Chanel logo on the outer wall above the window of a Giorgio Armani boutique in central Hong Kong.
"Of course, there is a graffiti aesthetic to my art but I primarily play with the visual effect. I use the original colours and re-paint the logo with excess. By pouring paint over them, the logo dissolves in front of the viewerís eyes, drawing attention to, and visually disturbing the recognisable and omnipresent trademark.
By doing so, I try to investigate the logoís visual power. Itís a simple gesture, just as in Aikido when you reverse the power and change the flow of energy."
In 2008 Zevs had his first major survey exhibition at the classical art museum the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, Denmark. His work was displayed alongside masterpieces in the museum's permanent collections such as Edouard Manet's The Absinthe Drinker and Auguste Rodin's The Thinke
He has ìliquidatedî corporate logos for years. His most famous was in 2009, when he painted a leaky Chanel insignia outside an Armani boutique in Hong Kong. He was arrested, jailed for days , and released on $60 000 HK bail.
He is known to many because of his spectacular "Visual Kidnapping" campaign. At the Berlin Alexanderplatz he cut a female figure out of an oversize advertisement banner from the company "Lavazza" and "blackmailed" them to make a 500.000 Euro donation to the "Palais de Tokyo" in Paris. For some time now, he has been dealing with the methods and techniques of Graffiti cleaning troops in Paris and the momentariness of Graffiti.
In Wuppertal, he worked with his subsequently created Clean Graffiti Technique. He designed dirty walls by working his pieces into the walls with cleaning machines, thereby creating a negative.
The many dark, dirty and old industrial buildings that shape the cityscape of Wuppertal inspired him to do this work.
The new bank canvases will make up his first New York solo show, scheduled for early 2011. He also utiluzes drippy, bloody grafitti to stage visual attacks on corporate iconography as sexy Gap, YSL, H&M, and Benetton models.
In preparation for his first solo exhibition in Hong Kong's Art Statements Gallery, the Parisian ZEVS decided to take a brief detour a few hours ago for a ìbombingî run.
Armed with a ladder, black paint, factitious cleaning crew outfit and barricade tape, he went on to adorn the signage of CHANEL Central District flagship store with his signature "Liquidatedî motif".
Unfortunately, local law enforcements were notified and ZEVS was arrested soon after his art was made.
"The first interest of my mind is about the visual aspect of this logo,î he said of Lehman. ìI play with the rhythm of the lines of the canvas. You can have a visual sensation of vibration when you look at it."
Dealer David De Buck is asking $12,000 for it.
"He wants to change the way we look at things,"De Buck said. ìWeíre the only ones who still invest in Lehman Brothers."
courtesy, Philip Borof/Bloomberg News and other sources