Art Obey’s First Solo Exhibition in Milan
Artexhibitionillustrationstreet art

Obey’s First Solo Exhibition in Milan

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Anna Frattini
Shepard Fairey Obey

When we discovered that Shepard Fairey—also known as Obey—would be coming to Milan, we at Collater.al’s editorial team didn’t hesitate; we had to meet him. On May 15, The Art of Shepard Fairey opened, an exhibition at the Fabbrica del Vapore that traces 35 years of the artist’s career through a rich collection of works selected by Fairey. It’s very easy to get lost in the exhibition, taking alternative paths to discover different historical moments and works by the artist. This intentional effect makes the exhibition a completely successful experiment, truly able to convey to the viewer the incredible story and social battles Obey has narrated over the past 35 years.

Obey in Milan

During the press conference ahead of the launch, everyone was present: Giuseppe Pizzuto, the curator and director of Wunderkammer; Deodato Salafia, founder of the DEODATO group; and the BOEM team, the official sponsor of the exhibition. They were all together with Shepard Fairey, who, with his magnetic presence, captivated the room by recounting his first time in Milan, back in 2005, for Urban Edge—a festival dedicated to street art at a time when this branch of art was not yet taken seriously. Fairey’s stories and insights made us reflect on how many things have changed over his 35-year career and how much there is still to be done for street art.

Obey
Obey

During the panel, Shepard opened with, «Art should be everywhere,» explaining how the street was just the first place where it was possible to express oneself before gaining knowledge and connections with the art world as understood by the establishment. His clear and articulate way of speaking showed great respect for all forms of art, primarily music, which continues to influence and drive him even at this point in his long career. The music of Bob Marley, The Clash, and Public Enemy are fundamental pieces in his creative journey.

When we had a few minutes to speak directly with Shepard Fairey, take some portraits, and film an interview (which you can find here); his magnetic demeanor and words continued to resonate with us for many hours after our meeting. We talked about his exhibition, political activism, his eponymous brand—OBEY—which is so iconic that although it might now seem like a separate entity, it is just one of many extensions of Shepard. Obey also managed to talk about his commitment to reconciling two difficult worlds: art and money.

Obey

The exhibition will remain open until October 27 in the Cathedral spaces at the Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan.

ph. courtesy Andrés Juan Suarez

Artexhibitionillustrationstreet art
Written by Anna Frattini
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