The Ex-Vandals Exhibition
The Ex-Vandals Exhibition borrows its name from an 80s New York graffiti gang and features artists born in the 70s and 80s, linked by a youth spent with graffiti. The exhibition is curated by Karri Kuoppala and Timo Vaittinen.
FA-Q by Pirtola
2008 marks the tenth birthday of the Stop Tagging (Stop töhryille) anti-graffiti project initiated by the City of Helsinki. Incidentally, New York-style graffiti has been around in the city for 24 years. Despite efforts from both fronts, neither phenomenon has come to its end. The nearly quarter of a century history of Finnish graffiti art has seen thousands youths expressing themselves in the public spaes of the city. Naturally, a group this size embodies a broad scope of personal histories: the background of graffiti creators as well as their life choices post-graffiti. The hopes, fates and everyday lives are expressive and varied, coming from all walks of life.
Although it is impossible to say whether graffiti culture is responsible for artistically enthused citizens or not, the effects of graffiti is evident in the art of many young artists of today. These inspirations of graffiti can be seen in the form of visual, spatial, mental, and simply attitudinal qualities. All of 12 artists of the Ex-Vandals – exhibition can all be associated with the graffiti culture which prevailed in Helsinki in the 80s and 90s, and they have all pursued artistic careers in an academic fashion. They have carried on doing what they did in their youth, created works for a larger audience. Along with the common element of experience, something that binds the group is their attitude: how to be and how to do things. The question of what is done is personal to everyone, as it should be when art is concerned.
In addition to works from Helsinki-based artists, the exhibition features FA-Q’s (a.k.a Kevin Wendall) artwork from the 80s, from the collections of Erkki Pirtola. In 1984 Pirtola organized an exhibition featuring New York artist FA-Q in Helsinki. FA-Q had notoriously been part of legendary Rivington School, and was known for his graffiti, street art and painting. This was at a time when graffiti was still largely unseen in Helsinki. Wendall’s art thus provides a link that transcends time and place, visualizing movements of a global culture, and in this case charts the arrival of graffiti into Finland.
Karri Kuoppala & Timo Vaittinen