Angel Ortiz: King of Hearts

(L-R: Angel Ortiz - Dance Party, 2022, Paintmarker and spray paint on canvas, 48 x 48 in; King of Hearts, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72 in)

Angel Ortiz: King of Hearts
30 September – 28 October 2022
D’Stassi Art
12 – 18 Hoxton Street
(Entrance on Drysdale St)
N1 6NG

D’Stassi Art is pleased to present King of Hearts, a new exhibition opening in London at D’Stassi Art, marking the highly anticipated comeback of Keith Haring’s longstanding collaborator and creative partner Angel Ortiz (known as LA II) with a new body of work set to unveil on Friday 30 September. 

Angel Ortiz (LA-II)
Angel Ortiz (LA-II) in his studio in New York City

The Puerto Rican street artist who lives and works in New York has created over 30 new large-scale paintings for the show – his first in the UK in over 40 years. King of Hearts is a story of redemption that sees the arts community come together to uplift and celebrate one of the only remaining living artists – discovered by Keith Haring at only 12 years of age – who collaborated with all of the most influential figures of the 1980s. Amongst these include Haring himself, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Richard Hambleton, and Andy Warhol to name a few with more recent collaborations including the likes of London street artist STIK.

(L-R: Angel Ortiz - Dance Party, 2022, Paintmarker and spray paint on canvas, 48 x 48 in; King of Hearts,  2022, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72 in)
(L-R: Angel Ortiz – Dance Party, 2022, Paintmarker and spray paint on canvas, 48 x 48 in; King of Hearts,
2022, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72 in)

LA II’s career took off in 1980 when Haring, fresh from the Pennsylvania suburbs, came across his ‘Little Angel’ tag on a New York City Street and sought him out to collaborate. A friendship that would last a lifetime, LA II gave Haring access to the city’s vibrant street art scene through The Non Stoppers (TNS) – the largest street art crew of the time on the Lower East Side. 

A combination of brotherhood, art and mutual admiration formed the foundation of their creative partnership and their first collaboration – a yellow NYC taxi hood tagged by both artists – sold for $1,400 at the time with proceeds evenly shared between them. Throughout the 80s, the two artists combined their signatures to create murals, sculptures, train paintings, and objects with LA II’s style and technique thought to have influenced Haring’s solo practice from then onwards. In 1983 aged just 16, LA II dropped out of high school to travel the world and work with Haring until 1985, collaborating side by side and weaving their creativity to create some of the most iconic works to exist in the art market today.

(L-R: Angel Ortiz – Woodstock, 2022, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 24 x 24 in; Corazon, 2022
Paintmarker and spray paint on canvas, 48 x 48 in)

King of Hearts is a cathartic and full circle moment for LA II. His new body of work takes inspiration from his past collaborations while looking ahead to the future, combining techniques that started in the 80s that merge the spray can, ink marker, and paint. Restoring his archive as the starting point for his new show, LA II reimagines some of his past work to take its meaning into a new direction including his original blue spray-can cartoon painting from the 90s. Here the artist sought to alter the characters’ original movement, painting arrows in its new iteration as a symbol of the past and highlight how the spray-can is now standing still. 

A reference to leaving the past behind and standing still in the present, King of Hearts is an ode to LA II that allows him to recognise his achievements as one of the youngest artists to have ever exhibited at the MOMA, Whitney, and Guggenheim in New York.

Angel Ortiz also said: “It’s so beautiful that I have the opportunity to go across the sea to London and to show my art. It’s something that I’ve been blessed with – everybody has something to give to this earth. We’re not just passing through. So I get to share my art and I’m happy to be sharing it with London. This is my therapy, this is what I love to do. I chose to name the show the King of Hearts – like a deck of cards with the aim to bring my passion and love to London.”

©2022 Angel Ortiz