For our first exclusive Street Art Auction from April 18-25, 2021, we talked to award-winning artist RAWS from Germany about his artistic beginnings, his style, upcoming projects, and graffiti and street art.
Hello RAWS thank you for this interview. You’ve developed a unique style. One sees in your oeuvre an exciting interplay of minimalist elements, as in THREE STRIPES , and constructivist compositions, as in THROUGH THE FRAME 01, then suddenly the street flashes up. When and how did you develop this style? It all started with spray paint?
I originally come from a graffiti background. I started spraying illegally in the streets in 2004 and got into conflict with the police around 2008. That’s why I decided to only deal with graffiti legally. I was more concerned with the aesthetic side of graffiti from that point on. In 2012 I began my graphic design studies, which opened up the world of art history to me. I was now exploring graphic art, minimalism and abstraction, which I combined step by step with my graffiti aesthetics. I was concerned with the question of the artistic meaning of graffiti. I wanted to find out at which point of abstraction graffiti is still perceived as graffiti and at which point it becomes abstract art. The classic graffiti elements, such as letters, disappeared more and more and were reduced to their essence. The line, the shape and the color. At the same time I still work with the medium spray can, which is a central tool of graffiti.
Yes, in your art the exploration of other art historical styles is clear to see. It creates a unique aesthetic that seems to built on the foundation of graffiti! How would you describe your style?
My style is very graphic and abstract, but always has elements of my graffiti background. I work a lot with contrasts. The relationship of line to surface, light to dark, and color to non-color play large roles in my compositions. Currently, I am preoccupied with the contrast between rough, improvised wall structure and clear graphic abstraction.
In your opinion, is graffiti different from street art or a part of it?
I can’t answer that in general. In my opinion, these are two parallel movements. Graffiti is more concerned with the letters than with figurative and political themes. Graffiti is very political because the artists work in public spaces without asking. Often, though, it’s about showing that you exist. To my mind, street art is even more political and makes more direct statements. Unfortunately, the acceptance of street art is often higher in society because society often does not understand the codes and approaches of graffiti. Nowadays, however, street art and graffiti are becoming more and more blurred.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on artwork for an exhibition in Paris. I’m also very much into the NFT and therefore art in the digital space. My first 3D animated artwork got already be sold. Another project is my first book, which I hope to publish this summer. The working title is “Hello, my name is…”. The book is intended to introduce me as an artist, showing work from the last 17 years.
Wow, that sounds exciting! NFT Art is definitely super interesting and glad to hear you’ll be in Paris soon!
Recently you painted CHAOS 11 exclusively for the first SINGULART Street Art Auction. What is the work about?
The work is part of my “CHAOS” series, which deals in an abstract way with the very challenging times we live in. We have to deal with many problems, such as. global warming, social injustice, Covid-19, or radical politicians. For me, these are chaotic times, to which I would like to react in an artistic way with this series. Stylistically, the work also deals with the interplay of urban art and fine art. The wall structure represents my graffiti background, while the graphic elements are meant to contrast with it and embody my love for clarity and accuracy.
Thank you, for these insights and yet I see a smiley in all the chaos. The message to not lose joy and stay optimistic during those times is so important!