A exhibition not to be missed if one wants to soak up Brussels urban underground culture is, without a doubt, INK EYE. There’s creative experimentation with photography and calligraffiti going on in an industrial setting in a fantastich location (BRASS cultural centre). At the opening party in a relaxed atmosphere of slow jam beats en hiphop among artistic Brussels youth I met with the two artistic souls of the exposition: graffiti-calligraphy artist Dema and photographer Boho.
The exhibition INK EYE, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fusion of calligraphy and photography, tells the story of Dema and Boho meeting and teaming up. In 2011, the artists join their creative insight to fight the misconceptions and incorrect portraying of urban culture. As has been witnessed once more recently, the hiphop scene is often shut out. Their works of art echo the urban life rhythms meant to introduce communities to each other that are living side by side in society.
It was a challenge for these talented persons to combine the techniques employed by a graffiti artist and a photographer.
My art, my fuel
Dema is master in mural art. He develops various styles of graffiti art with the CNN crew, a group of graffiti artists. Fascinated by the notion of movement. He formulates this beautifully: “A drop of ink to tame a word.” By employing graffiti he elevates his work to the next level: calligraffiti. He is constantly innovating and experimenting with graphic art and calligraphy, a combination that produces an accurate translation of the paradoxes of the city: its beauty and roughness, tradition versus ephemerality. Dema quotes Ben Okri to clarify the vision of his art: “They are only the exhausted / Who think that they have arrived” and “Our future is greater than our past.” His healthy obsession leads him far beyond the walls of Brussels, towards the walls of Paris, Madrid, Milan and Berlin.
As a calligrapher, he hopes to elicit emotions by his works. To him, the best way achieve that is to combine his texts with photos. Pictures make us remember a certain moment or feeling. He therefore chose to cooperate with Boho.
His partner in art Boho has been familiar with photography from childhood, thanks to his father, who is a photographer himself. Throughout the years he has learned to master the discipline, and even takes it further, into graphic designing. His preference in photography lies with portraits, landscapes and urban culture. He is a member of the group Rezolution prod., that engages in urban art. Boho is known as a backpacker who prefers to wander with his camera and backpack through Europe and Africa to shoot unique pictures. His pictures are often emotionally charged and depict the stories of the man in the street.
Boho’s photos are a reflection of his vision of life. “It’s the simple things that animate my life. One doesn’t have to photograph grandiose subjects to find something beautiful. One can retrace beautiful things in simple things.”
The exhibition shows fine examples of landscape, portrait and urban photographs and introduces the other sides of places like Marrakesh, Tangiers, Senegal, Mecca and Brussels. The story behind every picture is accompanied by Dema’s bright idiosyncratic calligraffiti works.
In short INK EYE certainly deserves the trip to Brussels when you’re in the neighborhood for all interested in understanding the hiphop philosophy. INK EYE introduces, on different artistic levels, the synergy of contemporary forms of art, and this new underground movement. The artists encourage young and old to develop their creative skills and show how art in all its shapes is a form of empowerment and involvement. A meeting point for people with all kinds of backgrounds. A must see!
Photos: Redouan Tijani
Exhibition INK EYE, February 8 to March 6, 2013
BRASS – 364 Avenue van Volxem – 1190 Forest , Brussels
Tuesday through Sunday 12 -18h
Saturdays open until 21h
Admittance is free
This post is also available in: Dutch