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Mr. Brainwash Solo Show: June 18, 2008

06.11.08   |   Posted in: Art & Design   |   By: Toshi Jones
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Mr. Brainwash Solo Show: June 18, 2008
I know very little about Mr. Brainwash for certain. I know that two of the most prominent artists in the world have made both positive and seemingly negative comments about the man, very publicly and very recently. This former film maker turned street artist will be making a very public display of his work next Wednesday June 18th at 7:00pm at 6121 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028.

Be sure to check back next week for coverage of the show.

Mr. Brainwash Solo Show: June 18, 2008
Mr. Brainwash Solo Show
Mr. Brainwash Solo Show: June 18, 2008
Mr. Brainwash Solo Show: June 18, 2008

13 Responses to “Mr. Brainwash Solo Show: June 18, 2008”

  1. Brooke Says:

    I have seen the posters for this all over LA. I am so excited for this show!

  2. Alex Jones Says:

    I’m axious to see what this is all about. Driving by earlier this week I could hear experimental house pounding from deep within.

  3. Kellis Says:

    This is from a Subliminal Projects press release-

    ‘Life is beautiful’ is the first exhibition ever mounted by Mr Brainwash. It takes place in a former Hollywood studio complex and will feature over three hundred paintings, sculptures and prints alongside an installation made from 100,000 shoes and a life-size re-creation of Edward Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’.

    “Mr. Brainwash is a force of nature, he’s a phenomenon. And I don’t mean that in a good way.”
    - Banksy

    Mr. Brainwash is an enigma. I want to hug him one second and smack him the next. He is awesome, infuriating, almost impossible to define, but if an artist is defined by relentless, obsessive passion, then MBW is definitely an artist. Which kind of artist though? When I first met MBW he was a film maker. He started documenting me putting art up on the streets and in galleries back in ‘99. He has hundreds of hours of footage and often risked his neck climbing with a camera to very dangerous spots. MBW’s camera was ALWAYS on… Theoretically MBW is coming out with an OBEY documentary eventually. Somewhere along the way I introduced MBW to Banksy, which seemed to lead him to transition from just a voyeur to a participant, and he began making his own street art. MBW told me he used to paint and had actually sold his art to Michael Jackson years ago. Knowing this art background and his obsessive nature, it does not surprise me how quickly MBW rose to prominence with his street art, becoming one of the most “up” people in LA in a short amount of time. Not all of the work was magnificent, but it improved steadily, reflecting the maxim that practice yields results. Meanwhile, in addition to his street art, as flows logically, MBW was also making canvases and screen prints that could be shown in a gallery. In his usual style, MBW could not just do a small art show, he had to go completely over the top and put together one of the largest, most ambitious, non-museum shows I can think of (more detailed description below). Of course nothing can go smoothly with MBW and over the weekend he wrecked his car and fell off a billboard breaking his foot. A less insane person would have postponed their art show, but he instead postponed his foot surgery and is continuing work. With the ambition and commitment MBW has, I’m pretty sure he’ll pull the show off, but if he doesn’t, to paraphrase Malcolm Mclaren, a glorious failure is better than an underwhelming success. I will be playing records and a jazz band will perform, so it is going to be a good party.
    -Shepard Fairey

  4. valery forms Says:

    MBW you are a thief. Watch what happens next.

  5. Mainstream Bitchass Whitboy Says:

    Its so easy to hijack a mainstream idea these days and its no surprise to see some trust-fund asshole throw an art show in the name of “graffiti” Life is beautiful? yeah sure it is until some talentless piece of shit comes along and attempts to “culture jam” after polishing lepard scary and banksy’s ass…Its no wonder people are exited to jump on another artist ripping off an artist that rips shit off? when are people going to stop supporting the “50 cent’s” of the art world and endorse the artist that really create the culture in this community….Fuck Money Buys Wackness and fuck Banksy and the shepard for leading the sheep once again into the sub culture’s mainstream…i hope supporters drown in the mainstream……More Brutalized Whiteboys!!!!

  6. Kellis Says:

    Dude, why you so mad?

  7. rob Says:

    In his world it is called being a “hater”

  8. Toshi Jones Says:

    The question is when does this leave the street scene and become mainstream? Is it when a thousand people show up to see your work on a Wednesday night. I’m not sure that these are direct comparisons, but Basquiat and Warhol both saw great success in similar ways to these guys. I think this is an interesting time for mainstream pop art. Future generations will be inspired by the pop artists of today as Fairey, Bansky, and MBW are obviously inspired by Basquiat, and Warhol.

    Most artists have critics. What I think is interesting is the these new pop artists are feeding their popularity through criticism. They criticize each other’s work and credibility and make the whole group stronger in the process.

  9. Kellis Says:

    I’m happy that 1000 people will show up to ANY art opening. I don’t know why artists like to have that crab in the bucket mentality.

  10. Juan Rodruguez Says:

    Like John D. Rockefeller Claiming to be Diego Rivera

    Most people familiar with art know the story of Rockefeller commissioning Rivera to do a mural for Rockefeller Center and then, unhappy with the anti-capitalist themes, having the mural painted over. Rockefeller paid Rivera, bought the work and labor and design from him, thus, he could do whatever he wanted with the product. Maybe, if Mr. Rockefeller were alive today, instead of having workmen destroy Rivera’s art with whitewash, he would grab a spray can, splat some paint onto the workers’ faces, and claim the “finished” work to be his own.

    This week, hanging out every day at Mr. Brainwash’s mega McGallery, it took me a few days to notice a crew of workmen (yes, all male) hanging out, building, painting, hanging “art,” and filming. By my fourth day at the gallery, I had picked out who seemed permanent… and when I witnessed a young guy come outside to the courtyard and spray paint, I got a hunch that something was rotten in France. I hung back in the corner as this young guy with a faux hawk expertly tagged a table and then tagged the two guests books handed him. My days of hanging around and my ability to be unnoticeable (I am short bald guy that has the uncanny ability of disappearing into the background) paid off. I cornered several of the workers and found out who was who, who did what, and what was the real shuck and jive.



    The “saddest” artist in the world

    According to some of the actual people involved, “conceptualizing” is far too strong for what Mr. Brainwash does. It is more along the lines of: here is a pile of cast off material, do something with this – and thus his hired artist does. For further “illustration,” more along the lines of a patron asking a portrait painter to paint her portrait – no one would ever confuse the subject of the portrait with the painter of the portrait. No one would proclaim the brilliance of the subject for suggesting she be portrayed. In short, this is Mr. Brainwash’s schtick – he gives a loose direction (no design, no overarching theme, no attempt at coherence or style or comment) to an artist or craftsperson he has hired to create a work of art. How the artist interprets and renders this loose direction gets left entirely up to the artist. In some instances, Mr. Brainwash has splatted some spray paint on top of what his hired artists rendered. In others, not. And, if, like me, you viewed the show and grasped for what the thread among the works would be and could find none, you were right because the work was all done by different people largely left on their own to do the work. You know, like commissioned, rather than overseen. Yesterday, I even witnessed a fake studio be built upstairs ostensibly as a re-creation of his own. How sad is this? What prompted him to display, see, I have the toys to do this if I wanted to!

    Now, in earlier eras, like in Mr. Rockefeller’s and Diego Rivera’s day, this was known as patronage and usually done to support up and coming artists. Certainly, sometimes patrons suggested to artists what and whom they might render. No one, though, confused the patron and the artist. But fast forward a century, and Mr. Brainwash is asserting himself as an artist, just because he had the kernel of an idea. Usually, in other fields such as screenwriting or movie-making, laying claim to an idea is laughed out of court. “But your honor, the hot chick and the gun in that movie were my ideas!”

    Basically, Mr. Brainwash is a very wealthy guy who wants to buy his way into the art world as an artist, not as a patron. He does not need the money this art show is bringing in as evidenced by the lack of a price list and a printed catalog, the extreme disorganization of the selling such as amateurs handling the art and how no prices are listed next to the menagerie in his main gallery. The first two days, no price list existed, and still, as of Saturday, none had been printed. In short, this whole exercise is one Napoleonic sized vanity project.

    So why do this? Why does a guy go to all this trouble to pose as an artist, or rather, assert he is an artist, when he is not? I am reminded of Breakfast at Tiffany’s line about Holly Golightly — Q: Is she real? A: She is a real phony. That is, I asked people involved in this for months if this is a Marcel Duchamp hoax and they insist, no, Mr. Brainwash really believes. As a man, I can only wonder what sadness lurks in this fellow’s heart at not living up to someone else’s expectations. Is this a “Daddy thinks I’m a hapless boob so I’ll show him” kind of trip? Is success more important in the end in this guy’s heart than achievement? Does he really believe he can co-opt other people’s talent and one day he’ll magically awaken with some of his own?

    The most shocking thing I heard all week was from a man that said Mr. Brainwash said of all this art that he’d been doing it for ten years and just hoarding it. One simple test would prove whether this is true – invite in journalists to his studio to watch him work for a week and create another “masterpiece.” Come on, Mr. Brainwash, it’s worth it. Like any man worth his street cred, you’ll step up to defend your rep – you’ll take a punch and come back swinging. Give us your best shot. Let’s see you, by yourself, at work for a week.

    Sadly, the truth is Mr. Brainwash really wants to be an artist; the fact is, he is not. In fact. these people created most of the work you saw (and imagine if this show were to support these real artists, like a true patron would, rather than to promote Mr. Brainwash):

    The graffiti on the urinal courtesy of:

    The Campbell’s spray cans, the gargantuan paper bag (apparently already slotted for a museum display), the Rubik’s Cube, the piles of books, the TV robot, the hanging shoes (ostensibly, Mr. Brainwash is so unversed in actual street culture that when he decided to hang the shoes he did not know of their drug dealing reference), and lots of other cool built stuff:

    The cool paint splotches on the wall and the superior layout for the art was done by Mr. Brainwash’s brother Patric

    The super cool person made of film cans, the octopus hanging from the ceiling, and an assortment of other great sculptures. You can clearly see the line between the sculptures on display and this guy’s personal aesthetic and style. Take a cruise under sculpture:

    An assortment of local Los Angeles tag teams and graffiti artists (you know who you are)

    and, as far as I could find out, a lot of the Warhols, the prints, the record shard collages, etc. were done by the faux hawked kid I mentioned earlier in the article, one Roman Lefeburte about whom I could find nothing on the web. Apparently, he is Mr. Brainwash’s right hand (and also in this case, his left hand) dude, who does most of the art not done by the folks already listed above. He also reportedly is slated to get a cut of the profits on the work he did, or should we instead call it pay-off money?

    I asked several of the American artists if doing their work and having it sold as Mr. Brainwash’s was what they thought they were getting into when they signed on. No – they had expected an art factory of sorts, where someone actually gave them designs…

    And this list here is probably not comprehensive, but it is what I could find out by talking to folks and watching the goings and comings in the gallery.

    Yet, you may ask, at least he discovered great artists and gave them a chance, right? And where might Mr. Brainwash have found most of these talented people?

    Where does everyone else in this town find someone to pay to screw?


    Yes, he recruited most of these folks through ads on Craigslist. Yep. For real.

    Okay, okay, you say, so what? So what if the guy is a real phony? “His” “work” makes people happy. My take, after seeing this work again and again, not “his” “work” BUT the famous folks in “his” “work” or the ones he stole from make people happy. More than once I heard people say, “How much does the Bowie cost?” or “Look, there’s a baby Michael Jackson.” The happiness they were getting, I assert, was not from Mr. Brainwash’s “art,” but from seeing the faces and things most (well, most male ones anyway) Americans already know and love: Larry King, Marilyn Manson and Monroe, The Beatles, Britney, Madonna, Scarface, Jimi, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Mohammed Ali, Elvis, guns, stuffed animals, lesbian kisses, Billie Holliday, the Rubik’s Cube, Bowie, Jagger, Andy Warhol’s art, Keith Haring, police cars, books, Alfred Hitchcock, W. C. Fields, Run DMC, beer, etc. The whole experience has about the artistic merit and appeal of a trip to Madame Toussaud’s, except that the replicas here are cast with vinyl and paint instead of wax. Modus operandi: entertain with that which is already entertaining.

    As for any more sophisticated commentary, the beer cans packed with “crude” oil (Petrol Light) were the only things vaguely political in the whole show. The rest was like watching a “Remember the 30s, uh, the 40s, uh, the 80s, uh, last year” episode on VH-1, many, “damn, do you remember that?” moments, and the associations into one’s own experience with the pop person or object, rather than with Mr. Brainwash’s “art.” And, no, from watching Mr. Brainwash at work, I do not think internal fantasy escape on the part of the viewer was his intent. Frankly, his intent was to become a famous artist by using other people’s fame, artwork, and new work to do it. And his ploy to become famous is working: MTV wants him to be in a video and from the information I gleaned on my last trip through, LACMA met with him about a show.

    Not to say that over the course of this pageant I didn’t see a lot of people smiling. People commented positively to me that they felt welcome here – it didn’t feel stuffy or like what they expected from an art show – uptight people drinking wine. They felt that what they saw was accessible (again, the show is in Hollywood – around the corner from other tourist attractions designed to be crowd pleasers). For sure, many people attended this art show that normally would not go see art…. or make it Downtown to the Thursday Art Walk or over to Culver City to the galleries. Of course, I am happy to see people happy — but for the most part this really is the kind of happy one gets from finding a really great fake Gucci bag and passing it off as real, or, frankly, to folks who wouldn’t ever know the difference (or care). They like the name, the flash, and the bling regardless of how it gets dished up.

    For the record, Mr. Brainwash has decided to extend this self-aggrandizing hoopla one more week, so if you didn’t catch his lack of cache last week, you can see the works of the artists mentioned above this week, June 26 – 29.

    Article by Juan Rodriguez

  11. Neu Black Says:

    You can read responses from Justin Murphy and Derek Walborn who helped put this show together here-

  12. Banksy in San Francisco « Bored Brain Damage Says:

    [...] now. It was way enjoyable too. I just couldn’t believe Edgar didn’t remember seeing the Life is Beautiful promotions in Hollywood when we were there. I remember them because they looked interesting but not good [...]

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