ANGEL ORTIZ (LA 2): ODE 2 NYC May 18 -June 18, 2023 Chase Contemporary 413 West Broadway New York, NY, 10012
Chase Contemporary is pleased to announce an upcoming solo exhibition for renowned graffiti artist Angel Ortiz, also known as LA II/ LA2. The immersive exhibition will feature 30 new canvas works of various sizes in Ortiz’s vibrant and playful geometric style, evoking the atmosphere of early 1980s New York. ODE 2 NYCwill be on view from May 18- June 18, with an opening reception on Thursday, May 18, from 6-8 pm.
The show will feature a unique body of work that exemplifies the artist’s love and admiration for the city he is proud to call home (this show follows a sold-out show in London last fall, his international solo debut.) Ortiz’s style is a mix of contemporary geometric, abstract symbols with influences attributed to hieroglyphics and calligraphy. His signature motif is his street tag LAII/LA2, completed in a dense almost overlapping pattern referred to as “High & Tight.” The work is then interwoven with geometric patterns and animated characters Ortiz created, such as the TV and Spray Can characters.
Ortiz, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born and raised on the Lower East Side and has created graffiti art since the age of ten. Starting in the mid-1970s, he tagged in New York’s Lower East Side with the TNS crew under the moniker LA2. At the age of 13 in 1980, his world changed forever when a young student from SVA named Keith Haring sought him out to discuss collaborating artistic styles after Haring spotted his “Little Angel” tag. In 1982, Ortiz and Haring collaborated on dozens of works for an exhibition at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York. They worked together for the next 6 years, combining their signature styles to create paintings, site specific installations, public murals, sculptures, and art on found objects. Their collaborative projects took them around the globe to participate in numerous gallery installations, fashion shows and museum exhibitions.
In 1982, Haring had this to say about their artistic connection: “The contrast between our lines was exciting. There is something uniquely satisfying to me in the fusion between our two styles of drawing. It is a delicate balance between the archaic and the distinctly modern, classical and psychedelic art at the same time.” In a 1992 biography on Haring’s life, Haring stated “We just immediately hit it off. It’s as if we’d known each other all our lives. He’s like my little brother.” Kenny Scharf, artist and mutual friend of Ortiz and Haring, recalled “Keith treated him as a true collaborator; he didn’t treat him like some little kid, which he actually was, really. He respected him and gave him half of whatever they collaborated on.”
After Keith’s death, his legend, and much of the work that the pair collaborated on continued to grow in popularity, but without his friend and creative partner, Angel’s contributions were overlooked. That also ended his creative credits and payment for his work. In the three decades since, he has struggled with personal and professional instability, and run-ins with the authorities all while his art created with Keith was shown in galleries across the world. A concerted effort from some of those closest to him has attempted to rewrite his contributions back into the history books, as well as shine a light on the art that he has continued to make since then. It’s given him the platform for his first international exhibition since the 80s with Keith, a solo exhibition in New York, and a full-length documentary is under works for a release next year.
In 2022, the New York City Center unveiled a panel by artist Keith Haring and Angel Ortiz (LA II): Fiorucci Walls, created as a site-specific performance on October 9, 1983 at the Fiorucci Store in Milan, Italy. The artwork was on loan from MACo Museum of Chang Mai, Thailand. In 2019, a collaboration between Haring and Ortiz sold at Phillips 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale for over $1,000,000. Ortiz’s art can be found in many esteemed private urban art collections and in the permanent collections of museums such as the Whitney, MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Louvre, Abu Dhabi. The artist lives and works in New York.
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