Blade est ici. Mais où? Blade is here. But where? The question of identity should also be posed in a spatial sense.
In the 20th century, the question of where art is became essential. Artists passed in great numbers from the galleries to the streets, from their studios to public places. A phenomenon named “art in context” by French theorist Paul Ardenne. Examples abound which illustrate the words of artist Robert Filliou: “Art is primarily where you are and what you do”.
Put another way: “1- I exist; 2- This is where I exist.”
The New York graffiti movement started at the beginning of the seventies. Theorist Frank Popper saw in the act of the graffiti artist one of the clearest proofs of desire to assert a presence “without prior aesthetic justification”.
Steven Ogburn, alias Blade, was among the first. He was born in the Bronx in 1957 and it is said that he reigned for years over lines 2 and 5 of the metro together with the group Crazy Five (TC5), always trying something new, persisting in covering entire trains with his giant blockbusters in his easily recognised handwriting with its elongated letters. They also say that this specialist of bubble, of cloud and geometric effects, was the first to introduce to his writing top to bottom 3D contours. “Even when he sleeps, his name travels incessantly. Twenty-four hours a day. At a speed of between 40 and 60 miles an hour” wrote Dutch critic, Roger Ormeling (on bladekingofgraf.com) who remarks that the graffiti artist for whom “anonymity and the worship of fame go together” descends into the darkness of the underworld like a mythological hero.
Some years later, art work began to circulate on another network, that of the Web. Blade is a sort of demiurge. Could one suppose that Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in order to occupy the canopy of heaven? Blade’s art of intervention offers to “take over the real world, to occupy space in its entirety, without restriction”. It is sometimes through other pictorial means than through that of his name but it is always in a double tradition: that inaugurated by the author of the of the famous “Kilroy was here” and that of a classicism in which he is henceforth assimilated.
Martin T. (translated by Vivien Bryce)