Driving down a busy city street, I took a double take when I saw a magnificent piece of street art. Artwork so inspiring that it made a seemingly run down building look almost poetic. Â That is the effect that Shepard Fairey’s street art has on the people lucky enough to come across it.
If you’re familiar with street art, then Shepard Fairey is a name all too familiar. He is a contemporary artist famous for his graphic OBEY Giant street viral campaigns, and as of late, his iconic design of the Barack ObamaÂ “Hope” portrait.
His art continues to make a political and social statement; in light of the 2009 G-20 Summit, Fairey made several murals around the city of Pittsburgh for the exhibition “Supply and Demand”, a retrospective of the artist’s 20 year career. Fairey’s art speaks to his discourse on capitalism and provides a pop art investigation into the semiotics of consumption. Many of his pieces are inspired by South Asian imagery, for example femaleÂ garment workers, the ancient lotus symbol, and use of henna design.
His piece, “Commanda”, is an image of a veiled ambiguously Asian/Persian woman holding a spray can, with the nozzle about to be pressed. It is a portrait of what is said to be Shepard’s wife, Amanda. Holding the spray can as a partner in graffiti crime, the veiled woman is ready to “catch a left-handed tag.”
In his old guerrilla art days, Fairey painted murals right onto the wall, and had to work fast, in case building-owners objected. His Pittsburgh sheets were all hand-painted, in his LA studio, where he creates many of his prints, including Obey Elephant.
For more information about Shepard Fairey’s career and art, visit the following resources: