Hellbent & Humphrey: Mixtapes and Ghetto Blasters

mixtapes and ghetto blasters

Folioleaf is pleased to present a two-person exhibition: Hellbent & Ryan Humphrey: Mixtapes and Ghetto Blasters. For this show, Folioleaf will be publishing new editions by Hellbent titled Mix Tapes—hand-painted die-cut abstraction in the saturated patterned style the artists has become known for. Humphrey is represented by his edition of full-scale wood and silkscreened reproductions of 1980s era boom box, titled Ghetto Blasters.

The artists are thematically united by their interest in the influence of music and music based subcultures. Though emerging from different backgrounds (Hellbent started as a street artists in the Deep South; Humphrey grew up deeply immersed in the subcultures of BMX bicycling, and skateboarding) and using distinctly different mediums (sculpture and spray paint), the two artists are driven by remarkably similar concerns. Devoted to their working process and the physicality of natural form, they each have developed pure, stripped down and somewhat rebellious styles derived from difficult-to-control materials. Hellbent is well-known for saturated works of stenciled pattern and haphazard bands of color. Humphrey is recognized for his masculine, high energy collage, sculpture and installation based works, which either depict or are made directly from objects like car hoods, BMX parts, ACDC vinyls or 80s skateboards.

The Artists

Hellbent got his start wheat pasting confrontational slogans around the Deep South of the United States. After moving to New York in 2000 he ventured further into street based art, this time period as he refers to as just “doodles.” In 2005, he adopted the name Hellbent from Richard Hell, the influential instigator of punk in the 1970s and began spreading his name on the street. Hellbent began experimenting with various media—wheat paste, rollers, cans, and stickers—but soon settled on making hand carved plaques that he would screw or glue around town, satisfying a desire to incorporate a folk element into recognizable urban art. Hellbent began carving predatory animals and jawbones on wood and using floral stencils to soften the force of attacking creatures. In his recent work these floral backgrounds have eclipsed the central animal and jawbone figures and become elaborate abstract fields of color and movement. Their configurations veering from organized quilt patterns to completely haphazard bands of color weaving throughout them selves. He has dubbed this series of work “Mix Tape” as his initial sketches for later paintings were made from the tape he used to mask off sections and contained overspray of the different patterns he was using. His plaques and recent abstract murals can be found throughout New York City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Zurich, Glasgow, and Paris, as well as in the books Street Art New York (Prestel 2010), Graffiti New York (Abhrams, 2009), and Outdoor Gallery, New York City (Gingko, 2013).

Ryan Humphrey grew up in a small town in Ohio building things in his yard, riding BMX bikes and skateboarding. After high school he was a Freestyle BMX instructor at Woodward BMX Training Center. He then moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the next three years to work at The Carnegie Museum of Art and obtain a commercial art degree where he developed an interest in contemporary fine art. This inspired him (along with a scholarship) to attend Ohio University where he earned his BFA in Sculpture. After moving to New York City he received his MFA from Hunter College, paying his way through school by working at The Dia Center for the Arts. After attending The Skowhegan summer residency program in Maine he worked for The Andy Warhol Foundation and participated in the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program. He was also a contestant on Season One of Bravo’s Top Design. He has exhibited extensively. He currently lives and works in New York City.

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