BATES – “California Dreaming” Interview – New documentary film by Carsten Skaarup


BATES is is on the crest of his next major career milestone: his premiere U.S. solo exhibition. This week, he makes landfall at RISK’s Buckshot Gallery in Santa Monica with California Dreaming.

Mass Appeal talked to the danish graffiti artist about the exhbition, transition from writing in the streets to a studio practice, his understanding of writing culture and many more. Here is an excerpt, more to read here!

Mass Appeal: So often, when artists make the transition from writing in the streets to a studio practice and showing in galleries, the work involves experiments in abstraction or color theory. But, in your case, you’ve never abandoned the letter.

BATES: You know, I did my first canvas in 1985. I still have the canvas. I did it for my mother. I tried it, but I was never really satisfied with staying within the frame. I always loved doing larger works, street-size, with a lot of feeling and motion, swinging the spray can around. Suddenly, on canvas, you have to stay within certain measurements. It was very hard for me to find that. But, I think now, because I’ve been painting for so long, I need to challenge myself. I know a good piece in the street. I can do it on my backbone. It’s not a problem. But, I need to challenge myself if I want to stay within this art form. I have to take some new development and some new growth. Plus, I’ve been doing for 30 years. It’s not like I’m some artist that’s just been writing their name in the street for two years and then decides, “Yeah, I’ll make an art career out of it.” I’ve been practicing and getting better, and I’ve stayed hungry to learn new things. When you work on canvas, you can work more with colors and the planning of it. Back in the day, you just used whatever you had. Now, I can experiment more. But, the transition is hard. You have to stay within the frame and have the same expression you would in the street.

On a sidenote, filmmaker Carsten Skaarup produced a documentary movie about BATES. The film describes graffiti seen from both the painters and the authorities’ point of view (danish language)

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