The Bronx has produced arguably the most impressive lineup of graffiti writers to ever influence the art scene. You would be hard pressed to show me another borough or geographic location with writers who can do more with a can of spray-paint. Of course, there are individual writers from the international scene that have garnered a following which they have earned and deserve respect for. However, in view of the historical impact that The Bronx writers as a whole have had on graffiti’s influence in the world today: it would be hard (although not impossible) to one up any acclaimed writer from that borough–regardless of personal accomplishments.
One of the crews that represent the Bronx with international acclaim is a collective of talented writers affectionately known as TATS CRU. As a group, they can be accredited with booming the mural movement that spawned in the mid 1990’s and continues to this day.
A member of that group is Wilfredo Feliciano–also known as Bio. As an artist, Bio has been painting since 1980 and got his start on the New York City transit system. Born in the Bronx, his art has captured the eye of the public and led to global notoriety. With attention to detail that emphasized the right placement of color and a mastery of lettering Bio has earned the respect and fandom his work has brought forth. The vibrant color and lively shapes that surround every piece he creates exhibits the profound influence the Bronx culture has had on him as a person.
Due to the success of the TATS CRU with major brands and Bio’s personal accomplishments painting for chart-topping musicians; Bio’s career as an artist is beginning to enter the realm of iconic. More iconic than his whole body of work is a moniker that Bio has become known for along the way. That being a rather rigid, yet, unique heart.
I had the privilege of catching up with him about this symbol while he prepared for an upcoming show, The Collaborations with Crash (@Crashone) and Nick Walker (@Nickwalker_art).
This is what Bio had to say about the nature of his heart:
“Back in 2009 I was in Puerto Rico on Valentine’s day. I went to visit a friend who was working on a wall and they mentioned to me that they had a spot I could rock if I wanted to paint. Originally, I really had no intention to paint that day so I resisted.. My friend threw it back to me and told me it would be great if we painted together.I figured why not just paint for the love of it–given it was Valentine’s day. I remember my piece was nothing too complex because I really did not go there prepared to paint and was feeling a simple vibe. Anyway–I took a step back to check my piece and wanted to incorporate the theme of Valentine’s–so I threw up this heart above my eye as the dot above it. At the time, I really did not think much of it. That heart was all kinds of rough and the symbol itself has come along way over the years.However, when I first made it–I was not thinking of an iconic symbol or anything like that. It was not until the next time I was doing a piece in the Bronx and someone mentioned “are you gonna do that heart again?” So I did it that time again as well. More and more–every time I went out to work on a wall or was putting together a canvas, people began associating me with that heart. Initially, I tried to resist using it often because at the time I was still figuring out it’s shapes and movements within my work. A lot of that changed over time as I added various lines and edges–figured out how to color it my way. While people knew me for the heart within New York and Puerto Rico; it really shot to international acclaim when it was featured alongside Jennifer Lopez in a Fiat commercial. That is what brought much attention to it. The combination of her stature and the exposure of the commercial. But like I said; I never thought of any of this attention the first time I painted the heart so this has really been great.”
The story behind Bio’s heart is a unique one. There are many parallels here and morals to the story about painting just for the love of it. It took Bio to amazing heights as an artist. I think it also can serve as inspiration to every up and coming artist about approaching creativity.
Article: Jonathan Drexler