In the early 80’s as cans clanked around subway cars in the tunnels of New York, one name stood out among the crowd. International graffiti artist Cope2 participated in the Wildstyle movement in 1980’s New York when he was living in the South Bronx as a Latino youth. Tough economic conditions slowly molded and redefined street artists at the time, and graffiti evolved as a way for youth to have a voice. Cope2 is now recognized for his participation in the 1980’s New York graffiti movement, and remains to be a representative within fine art circles today for his ever evolving body of gallery work.

The artist recently teamed up with gallery director Brooke Waterhouse of Project One to premier his latest series of works entitled “The Rebirth”. Within the work, the artist pays homage to his past with tight line work and even a classic Cope2 tag here and there. Vivid colors and washed out graffiti make up the many of the abstract works featured in the show.

In is within the abstraction of Cope2’s work where he blends graf-style with gallery presentation. This is not as easy as it looks, and there are varied thoughtful choices in many of the color and composition details presented in his work.

Today graffiti artists such as Cope2 are expanding into serious contemporary abstract painters, and they have the chops to do it as well. Cope2 is no exception to this, and his abstract works show us that he has a refreshing take on graffiti in a fine art world.

The paintings themselves collide with color and emotion, which is very representative of the entire Wildstyle movement. Cope2 is again evolving his signature look, and brings the emotion of his previous “throw-ups” in abstract collisions of paint. Quite literally where Jackson Pollack and graffiti collide, the work Cope2 presents us is a look into the very future of abstract art in America today.

In 2011 the artist was a standout highlight during Art Basel week in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami. A recognizable and respected member of the spray paint community, Cope2 presented his abstract style during the week with his show entitled “Rise to the Occasion”. The artist completed a large scale mural of his infamous Cope2 throw-up, and collaborated on smaller pieces with artists as diverse as Buff Monster throughout the neighborhood.

Cope2 is a seasoned graffiti legend, who also takes the time to explain his work to those that ask. It is this grassroots approachability that has made this man not only a legend, but a teacher. The artist continues to be seen as a leader in graffiti community, and is now validating the genre in the greater art world. His presence during Art Basel week did not go unnoticed, and he made an impression on the minds of many in the established art circles.

“The Rebirth” at Project One Gallery is a great introduction to the artist, and presents a solid blend of his past, while looking into the future of the abstract graffiti aesthetic.

Without a doubt, Cope2 still has a voice. It is loud. Abstract. And ready to be heard.

- written and photographed by Michael Cuffe for Warholian

“The Rebirth” runs from Oct. 3rd to November 10th at Project One Gallery in San Francisco.

For more info on the show visit: http://p1sf.com/events/cope2-the-rebirth/

Find out more about Cope2 here:  http://cope2art.com

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