Los Angeles native ZES (also known as ZESER or ZES MSK) showcases a new body of work that represents the artist’s personal journey within the tumultuous, divisive environment of current-day America. Using a limited color palette, ZES plays with the power of societal context: Although each piece is unique, the viewer is forced on first impression to view the works as part of two contrasting sides, a false dichotomy that ZES aims to refute via the uncontained, erratic strokes cutting through each colored canvas. ZES’s artistic process mirrors his own growth and struggles throughout his graffiti career, which began in the 1990s, a period ravaged by gang violence and the U.S. government’s heightened “War on Drugs” campaign. During this time the artist used Los Angeles as his personal jungle gym and found graffiti, becoming a member of legendary crew MSK (Mad Society Kings) and earning a reputation for creating intensely ambitious works even in the most extreme locations. ZES still refuses to be confined within borders, staying unabashedly true to his individual identity.
BEYOND THE STREETS New York, 2019. Photo by Martha Cooper.