Angel ‘LAII’ Ortiz: The Great Collaborator

Angel 'LAII' Ortiz: The Great Collaborator
STIK & Angel (LAII) Ortiz Friends, 2022 Acrylic on Canvas (detail)
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Angel ‘LAII’ Ortiz: The Great Collaborator
Featuring STIK, Shepard Fairey, Mr.Doodle, Mark Kostabi and Richard Hambleton
10th May, 2024 – 24th May, 2024
12 – 18 Hoxton Street
(Entrance on Drysdale St)
London, N1 6NG

This May, celebrated New York City graffiti artist Angel ‘LAII’ Ortiz, known for his expressive squiggles and swirls, opens his dynamic new exhibitionThe Great Collaborator‘ at London’s D’Stassi Art. The exhibition brings together some of the most recognised graffiti and street art names, including STIK, Shepard Fairey, Mr. Doodle, Richard Hambleton and Mark Kostabi. These creative giants are coming together for the first and only time. Ortiz has collaboratively worked with each artist, promising a showcase filled with interconnected works honouring collaboration.

Angel 'LAII' Ortiz: The Great Collaborator - D'Stassi Art
Angel ‘LAII’ Ortiz

Ortiz is best known for his collaborations with notable artists such as Kenny Scharf, Richard Hambleton, STIK, ERO and many others. His partnership with Keith Haring during the 1980s was particularly transformative. Together, they created murals, sculptures, and painted trains, blending their signature styles. Ortiz’s technique and style are believed to have significantly influenced Haring’s solo practice from then onwards. The Great Collaborator exhibition continues to honour and celebrate Ortiz’s spirit of collaboration from the 1980s, featuring enigmatic new partnerships throughout the show.

Angel 'LAII' Ortiz: The Great Collaborator
LAII x Richard Hambleton

The exhibition highlights a series of rare collaborative works between Ortiz and the late Richard Hambleton, the godfather of street art known as ‘The Shadowman.’ Created before Hambleton’s death in 2017, these synergistic pieces mark the enduring legacy of both artists. Born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1952, Hambleton rose to prominence in the 1980s with his stirring public works. His most famous work is his  ‘Shadowman’ paintings—eerie silhouette figures strategically placed in unexpected urban spaces, were intended to startle the unsuspecting public, adding a haunting presence to cityscapes.

Beyond the ‘Shadowman‘ series, Hambleton created ‘Image Mass Murder.’ In this provoking series, he painted crime scene outlines with red paint across North America and Europe, simulating the appearance of actual murder scenes; these Murder scene outlines explore themes of danger and surprise intrinsic in everyday settings. 

Angel 'LAII' Ortiz: The Great Collaborator
Image courtesy of STIK © STIK

In works like ‘Friends,’ we see Ortiz and British minimalist, figurative painter and sculptor STIK come together, fusing Ortiz’s expressive style with STIK’s enigmatic stick figures. This piece is vividly filled with colour. Celebrated for his distinctive black-and-white stick figures, STIK began creating stencils and wheat pastes in the early 1990s, gaining recognition in the street art community. Consequently, he was nominated in 2008 for the Turner Prize. STIK is also renowned for his relentless charity projects that leverage art as a power for social change. His works are rare and in high demand, with pieces frequently selling at auction.

Angel 'LAII' Ortiz: The Great Collaborator
(centre Image) STIK & Angel (LAII) Ortiz Friends, 2022 Acrylic on Canvas

Ortiz and American contemporary street artist Shepard Fairey go toe to toe on Fairey’s trademark visual language. Their two styles create a fusion that gives this collaboration a striking and memorable aesthetic. Beyond street art, Fairey is a graphic designer, activist, and founder of OBEY Clothing, who became known for the “André the Giant Has a Posse” (…OBEY…) sticker campaign.

Angel 'LAII' Ortiz: The Great Collaborator
Shepard Fairey
Image courtesy of Shepard Fairey © Shepard Fairey

He gained mainstream recognition with his iconic “Hope” poster, which he created during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. The skateboarding scene, punk rock music, propaganda, advertising, and revolutionary imagery influence Fairey’s work, characterised by his limited palette of red, black, and cream, emphasising their bold graphic quality. Fairey’s impact on street art and graphic design is significant, and he has successfully bridged the gap between high and low art.

The doodle, squiggle, and swirl collide like pistols drawn at dawn in a Western, in a dynamic display of Doodlism when Ortiz and Mr. Doodle collaborate, expressing form and movement. Known for his expansive doodling that covers any surface he encounters, Mr. Doodle has even decorated his entire house, car, and everything in between. Previously, Ortiz and Mr. Doodle went back to back in a doodling exhibition in New York, which drew a large crowd. Onlookers watched in awe, captivated by the scene.

Angel 'LAII' Ortiz: The Great Collaborator
Mr Doodle and Angel
Image courtesy of Angel ‘LAII’ Ortiz © Angel ‘LAII’ Ortiz

British contemporary artist Mr. Doodle, known in his daily life as Sam Cox, presents a whimsical yet irresistibly captivating form of expression: doodling. Often perceived as a simple or idle pastime, doodling in Cox’s hands becomes a complex and multifaceted form of creative expression with an underlying mission to cover the universe with doodles. Mr. Doodle’s works have a Haringesque feel, evoking 1980s nostalgia without the societal messages, making this collaboration with Ortiz a perfect match.

Ortiz’s squiggles and swirls flow seamlessly into the paintings of American artist Mark Kostabi. In works like ‘New Arrivals, 2024,’ Ortiz’s squiggles accentuate Kostabi’s surreal composition of a cubical office, where generic figures stare at monitors—a nod to society’s cattle-caged workforce. Kostabi is known for his mechanistic figurations and faceless figures; Kostabi’s work critiques modernity, alienation, and the commodification of the human experience. 

Mark Kostabi
Credit by Carli Muñoz
Image courtesy of Mark Kostabi © Mark Kostabi

Kostabi rose to prominence during the 1980s New York art scene and has maintained a successful career ever since, with his works featured in numerous major galleries and museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The collaboration between Ortiz and Kostabi represents a compelling amalgamation of artistic vocabularies, each artist venturing into distinct expressive domains. Where the individual styles not only coexist but also enhance each other. 

D’Stassi Art is committed to honouring Ortiz’s legacy and celebrating the magic he infuses into collaborative pieces. The Great Collaborator is a tribute to Ortiz’s enduring impact on art and culture, merging diverse elements of graffiti and street art.

D’Stassi Art Directors Michael Howes and Edward Sanders explain: “The Great Collaborator’ exhibition will mark our most exciting exhibition to date. It is a privilege to be part of Angel’s incredible story and to have such respected and successful artists supporting Angel and the gallery. This feels like a significant milestone for D’Stassi Shoreditch.”

This exhibition showcases his influence on subsequent generations of artists and delves into the inspiration behind his iconic style, which has captivated audiences for over four decades. In this unforgettable collaborative journey, a one-time-only affair, we will see some of the greats of graffiti and street art unite. It is set to be a truly memorable experience, a must-see exhibition for art lovers or anyone interested in the evolution of street art and its culture.

Angel LAII Ortiz: The Great Collaborator opens on the 10th of May, 2024 until the 24th of May, 2024 at D’Stassi Art

©2024 D’Stassi Art