Barry McGee

San Francisco, CA, USA

There is perhaps no graffiti writer more...

synonymous with the West Coast scene than San Francisco–based artist Barry McGee. A lauded and much respected cult figure in a bicoastal subculture that that comprises skaters, graffiti artists and surfers, he has been working on the streets under the moniker TWIST since the mid-1980s. His images continue to appear on walls, mailboxes and other surfaces despite ongoing efforts by public authorities to paint them out. In the work he shows in galleries, Barry has managed to create a completely original style based on the graffiti experience, through installations that fuse found and invented imagery, drawings, tags and assorted objects. He is still active on the streets while simultaneously showing in the world's most prestigious museums and galleries.

Barry contributed two large works to the Wynwood Walls project. The first, completed in 2009, covers the façade of a building with his trademark geometric pattern in fluorescent green and orange, and is emblematic of his more recent gallery work. On the wall facing 24th Street, a monochromatic face with droopy eyes and an awkward grimace appears, and on the electric pole on 2nd Avenue we can find the smaller signature faces he painted on city hardware. In this installation, which wasn't complete until the artist's addition of an overturned truck, Barry included a shout out to his alter ego and occasional pseudonym "Ray Fong." More recently, in 2010, Barry covered one wall of the Goldman Warehouse on 26th Street in silver and black graffiti throw-up, like a giant version of the filled-in tags that proliferate in urban areas.

Much of Barry's work deals with the downtrodden and those who live on the margins of society. His expressive faces, a recurring image in his work, stem from the homeless and the down-and-out characters he encountered in San Francisco, people who are often overlooked or forgotten by mainstream culture. His work is both visually striking with its bold colors and compassionate with its themes. Barry's influence on contemporary art reaches far and wide, so we are honored to have his work at the Wynwood Walls.