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Preview: SURFACE Portraits of Street Artists ~ Opens April 25th at Subliminal Projects

10:31 AM PDT on April 23, 2015

SURFACE public invite

Søren Solkær is a Danish photographer who has photographed over 135 street artists from all over the world in their native environments. His exuberant, loving photographs capture artists near their iconic works and provides new context for the oft-anonymous artists and their global productions. The highly-staged nature of many of the photographs adds an element of theatricality that is present in the creation of the works but rarely expressed in media. In addition to exhibiting Solkær's photographs, the people at Subliminal Projects had the idea to ask some of his subjects, including Aakash Nihalani, Above, Beau Stanton, Cyrcle, DabsMyla, Dan Witz, Jordan Seiler, Lee Quinones, Logan Hicks, Mark Bode, Rae, Risk, Saber to create collaborative works that reinterpret the original photos. Keep reading for a preview and the complete press release.


Full Press Release:

I have photographed more than 135 artists, in locations stretching the globe – including Copenhagen, Stavanger, London, Miami, Newcastle, Paris, Berlin, Athens, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Sydney and Melbourne. SURFACE is an interpretation of the genre as well as the personalities behind the art itself. It is my ambition to present an overview of the contemporary scene, whilst also shedding light on the pioneering figures who paved the way. SURFACE isn’t meant as documentation of street art…I photograph the artists in a visual interplay with their work, which consequently facilitates the ethos of the artworks themselves. - Søren Solkær, 2014

SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS is pleased to present SURFACE, an exhibition featuring portraits of street artists taken by Danish photographer Søren Solkær. The images are part of a larger book project that began in 2012 and continued into 2015. For three years, Solkær traveled internationally, photographing street artists in their element and showcasing them alongside their art in public spaces. The project culminated in a publication that ultimately serves as a portrait anthology of many significant street artists in the contemporary art scene, as well as the genre’s pioneering icons. 

Throughout this endeavor, Sølkaer retained his signature photographic style by drawing influence from cinema and painting in order to tell a story through each image. He often incorporated artificial lighting on location, sometimes using masks or props to obscure the artist’s identity. The result is an atmosphere of hyperrealism where presence is informed through urban landscape, artwork as backdrop, and the depiction of each individual in natural, often poetic, states.


I felt that this was the perfect time to portray the people behind one of the most powerful and prevalent art movements of our time. This took me on an incredible journey to rooftops, back alleys, train stations, studios and walls across the world. – Søren Solkær, 2013

For the exhibition at SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS, the concept of portraiture goes a step further. We reached out to 14 of these photographed street artists and asked them to reinterpret the portrait Solkær took of them in order to create a unique, collaborative artwork, adding their own signature style and aesthetic to the original photograph. In this way, the portrait is reconfigured into a self-portrait, addressing the idea of artwork as an extension of the artist and highlighting alternative visual avenues for capturing and communicating identity.

A selection of Solkær’s photographs will be on view alongside 14 unique collaborations by the following renowned artists: Aakash Nihalani, Above, Beau Stanton, Cyrcle, DabsMyla, Dan Witz, Jordan Seiler, Lee Quinones, Logan Hicks, Mark Bode, Rae, Risk, Saber, and Wolfbat. As a celebration of the international scope of the project, variations of SURFACE will be on display in 2015 at international venues including: Art Equity, Sydney Australia; NKN Gallery, Melbourne, Australia; Subliminal Projects, Los Angeles, Calif.; Allouche Gallery, NY; Øksnehallen with V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark; The Burrard Arts Foundation, Vancouver.


The opening reception at SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS will take place on Saturday, April 25th from 8 to 10 pm, coinciding with the U.S. launch of the publication. Solkær and a selection of exhibited artists will be in attendance and signed copies of SURFACE will be available for purchase. The exhibit will be on view through Saturday, May 23.


Søren Solkær is a Danish photographer (b. 1969). He is best known for his portraits of musicians and is often recognized for developing iconic images of Björk, The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand, David Lynch, The Arctic Monkeys, R.E.M. and U2. Solkær 's photographic style is characterized in the tension he creates between intimacy and edginess. Various inspirations for his stylistic approach include: filmmakers David Lynch and Wong Kar-Wai, photographer Philip-Lorca di Corcia, painter Caspar David Friedrich. Solkær 's works have been exhibited in New York, Oxford, Copenhagen, Sydney, Melbourne, London, Edinburgh, Chicago, Milano, Napoli, Bratislava, Reykjavik, Cologne and Prague and are part of the permanent collection in The Royal Danish Library and The National Portrait Collection in Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark.

SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS is a multifunctional gallery space promoting diverse forms of art while providing a forum for contemporary dialogue. It was established by Shepard Fairey and Blaize Blouin in 1995 and played an integral part in introducing skateboarding culture and design to the art world. Now located in the historic neighborhood of Echo Park, SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS continues to offer a platform for artistic exploration and innovation. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 6 pm.

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