Merry Karnowsky Gallery Berlin

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features the contemporary street artist Shepard Fairey

Just a few months after Merry Karnowsky Gallery successfully opened its new gallery in Berlin the gallery now features the Los Angeles-based, contemporary street artist Shepard Fairey at Berliner Liste Art Fair. Frank Shepard Fairey (born in Charleston, South Carolina) who usually omits his first name is a contemporary artist, graphic designer and illustrator who emerged from the skateboarding scene and became known initially for his "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" sticker campaign. In addition to his successful graphic design career Shepard Fairey also DJ's at many clubs under the name DJ Diabetic and Emcee Insulin, as he has diabetes.

Fairey graduated from RISD in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in illustration. After graduation, he founded a small printing business in Providence, RI called "Alternate Graphics", specializing in T-shirt and sticker silk-screens, which afforded Fairey the ability to continue pursuing his own artwork. While residing in Providence in 1994, Fairey met American filmmaker Helen Stickler, who had also attended Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a film degree. The following spring, Stickler completed a short documentary film about Shepard and his work, titled "Andre the Giant has a Posse." The film premiered in the 1995 New York Underground Film Festival, and went on to play at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. It has been seen in more than 70 festivals and museums internationally. In 2003 he founded the Studio Number One design agency which designed album covers for several international music stars.

With the Format Magazine he talked about influences being most important for him: "There have been several influences. In the art world, Andy Warhol and Barbara Kruger and a graffiti artist named Twist, who's made the transition from the streets to the galleries. There's a poster artist who lives in LA named Robbie Conal, who was one of the first guys to combine his art with political commentary and humour that was influence, but going further back in design, the Russian Constructivists are a big influence." In the same interview Shepard Fairey said about the origin of Andre The Giant's face as the image for his best known sticker campaign: "The Andre The Giant sticker was just a spontaneous, happy accident. I was teaching a friend how to make stencils in the summer of 1989, and I looked for a picture to use in the newspaper, and there just happened to be an ad for wrestling with Andre The Giant and I told him that he should make a stencil of it. He said ‘Nah, I'm not making a stencil of that, that's stupid!" but I thought it was funny so I made the stencil and I made a few stickers and the group of guys I was hanging out with always called each other The Posse, so it said Andre The Giant Has A Posse, and it was sort of appropriated from hip-hop slang - Public Enemy, NWA and Ice-T were all using the word".

Shepard Fairey creates political art with a strong sense of visual style and emotional authenticity. In 2004, Fairey joined artists Robbie Conal and Mear One to create a series of "anti-war, anti-Bush" posters for a street art campaign called "Be the Revolution" for the art collective Post Gen. In June 2007, Fairey opened his one man show entitled "E Pluribus Venom" at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery. The overtly political nature of Fairey's work in the show led to a bomb scare in which the thousands of gallery-goers had to be evacuated from the space. The show made the arts section front page in the The New York Times. Beginning 2008 he created the "Hope" image for Barack Obama. This iconic image of Obama, adorned on posters, stickers, clothing and more, has become a pop cultural phenomenon and an important symbol in the political landscape of 2008 and beyond.

Founded in 1997, Merry Karnowsky Gallery has quickly become one of the hot spot galleries in Los Angeles. Being specialised on 'low-brow', street and graffiti art, Karnowsky showed significant artists of the emerging underground movement from the beginning, among them Mark Ryden, Camille Rose Garcia, Todd Schorr and Shepard Fairey. Focusing on that specific part of L.A. art, Merry Karnowsky Gallery decided to offer more international exposure to its' artists and identified the German capital Berlin as the ideal place for a second location. In 2007 Merry Karnowsky Gallery opened its dependence at Tostrasse 175 in the hip gallery-area Berlin-Mitte. (Tom Felber for creative face magazine)