Miami Based Neo-Pop artist Pete Kirill Talks Hip-hop and political powers in this pretty awesome video interview. Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments.
Miami based artist Pete Kirill recently shared his newest mural project in Wynwood with you titled, “Rebel Without a Pause,” located at 82 NE 29th St. The mural is of James Dean from the movie “Rebel Without a Cause,” depicted as rapper/reality tv star Flavor Flav. The title of the mural is a reference to the Public Enemy song “Rebel Without a Pause,” from the album Fear of a Black Planet, and is a tribute to the groups recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Miami based Neo-Pop artist Pete Kirill recently shared these images with me of his latest installation located in Downtown Hollywood Florida. In turn I’m sharing them with you. No sense in being an art hoarder. The installation entitled The Dictator Hall of Fame was commissioned by the Hollywood Mega Mural project and features five dictators including Big Daddy Hussein, MC Arafats, Kim jong-Rodman, MC Chavez and Flavor Fidel. Complete with a portrait of each dictator and one piece of fake memorabilia from each portrait. For example, the portrait titled, Flavor Fidel depicts the Cuban dictator holding a microphone, so under his painting on the shelf is a microphone. MC Arafats has sunglasses on his shelf like the one’s portrayed in the painting.
According to Pete, “The Dictator Hall of Fame series focuses on famous dictators worldwide. A strong connective tissue joins dictator worship and celebrity idolization, as these these leaders increasingly resemble American Pop icons versus heads of state.
Elvis Presley had millions rocking and swinging to his music. Despite the undeniable influence there were skeptics who saw a different picture. In the words of Little Richard, “He was an integrator…they wouldn’t let black music through. He opened the door for black music.” In the same vein, in the words of Sammy Davis Jr, “There was something just bordering on rudeness about Elvis. He never actually did anything rude, but he always seemed as if he was just going to. On a scale of one to ten, I would rate him eleven.” Miami based artist Pete Kirill might be of the latter opinion when it comes to the King of Rock and Roll. His latest mural makes a statement about how Elvis was influenced by black music, and then in turn Rock and Roll influenced Hip-Hop. Take a closer look at the images below.
Skin… is a many layered thing; it is artistic, it is cultural, it is biological, it rests on the fragile fringe of one’s inner and outer space… not to be melodramatic, but we consider it an overlooked focus – an abstract opus – of cultural connective tissue.
So, for Art Nouveau’s Skin issue, we chose a duo who connected all of those elements in a most masterful manner: Chester French – black tears, faced fears, a pair so open-minded about the lovable future that their well-endowed brains have descended upon every listener’s ears.
We had a chat with Max and D.A. to get an inside look at how they view those elements that make the epidermis so oddly endearing. When we come into this world, our skin is supple and soft, that unhindered remnant of divine design. For artists like Chester French, the first album is of that same fresh design. The label signs you because of that new-new you bring to this world. Musicians wear that skin like a manifestation of the self. Unlike the child though, an artist can craft their own primary skin; now more than ever though, it is getting harder to make that sonic aesthetic a signature different than all others. – interview by Swiper Bootz and cover art by TONE
Unbeknownst to Kevin Michael, he was under a tremendous amount of pressure. I didn’t just want him to give me clean and honest answers to my questions, but I wanted him to inspire me to write the most honest thing I have ever written. So, naturally, I wanted to delve into the darkest part of anyone’s lifetime; their childhood. “I didn’t grow up in a household with many rules. My father was kind of a ghetto celebrity. As a kid you don’t know any better.” Little Kevin Michael was being snuck into bars and hidden behind speakers that towered over him that left him born into not just rock ‘n roll, but the lifestyle accompanied with it thanks to his father who is a musician. He was never totally drowned into the deviant lifestyle Drew Barrymore-style, but it did leave him longing for something peculiar, especially upon artistic types. – interview by Myles Johnson and cover shot by R. Carter for R. Carter Photography.
Elsewhere in the issue we chat with Jack Davey about Motherhood, new aesthetics and new outlooks, Amon Tobin marches to the Post-Dubstep beat of his own drum and Indigo Charlie shows us her true skin. On the visual side we feature artists Zofia Bogusz, Pete Kirill, Rodrigo Luxon, Davide Luciano and TONE and feature fashion editorials by Olivier Valsecchi, Que Duong and Francis Urrutia.
Pete Kirill‘s North Korea oil series investigates the relationship between communism and capitalism by representing both ideologies on canvas. The Miami based neo-pop artist highlights the parallels between dictator worship and celebrity idolization, anchored by the physical gestures of the enigmatic, iron-fisted North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il. Kirill’s work investigates the fractured relationship between Communism and Capitalism employing tongue-in-cheek depictions of North Korean pictorial and military tributes featuring Kim Jong-il. With his death by largely unknown causes in early 2012, Kirill’s work opens complex possibilities and associations from within and without the culture surrounding a man, rendered as a deity by his own ruling elite.
Pete’s immersion within a Communist state prompted a continued, focused visual study of infamous dictators and their accompanying cults of personality. Kirill’s first solo exhibition was held at Myra Galleries, Miami in October 2011. The attached works Kim Jong-rodman and Kim Jong Ill’n are pieces that depict the North Korean leaders as a hip hop artist and NBA basketball star, drawing parallels between dictator worship and celebrity idolization.
“Portrait of Kim Jong il and Kim Jong Un”
Art Nouveau: What inspires you?
Pete Kirill: Reading books, watching documentaries, following current news on the DPRK and its leaders, as well as broader primary research. I usually find whatever appears strange or unfamiliar in the image. Once I find a suitable subject, I add one or two capitalistic elements to it. Sometimes, these elements instantly appear within the image. At others, ideas emerge after deeper contemplation. I also draw from my experiences living in Havana, where I witnessed the propaganda machine of the Castro regime firsthand.
AN: Tell me about the North Korea oil series. You’re obviously making a large statement. Why depict North Korean leaders as hip hop artists?
PK: The North Korea oil series is a study that draws parallels between the way Communism and Capitalism are practiced in their respective cultures, although the core of their ideologies are vastly different. North Korean leaders, particularly Kim Jong-il when he was alive, over-indulge on many Western luxuries, with the rate of consumption rivalling American hip-hop celebrities. Kim Jong-il was one of Hennessey’s biggest consumers, for example, reportedly spending more than $800,000 on the cognac brand per year.
I attempt to illustrate the complications between the principles Kim Jong-il and other Communist leaders imposed on their citizens (and still continue to do so) and what is actually practiced by those in power.
AN: Tell me about “dictator worship.” What parallels do you see in American Popular Culture?
PK: Dictator worship is similar to hero worship, arising when an individual uses mass media tools to create an idealized public image channeled through unwaivering praise. In North Korea, their “Dear Leader” is portrayed on larger-than-life billboards and murals as a divine but likable figure, always smiling down on his people. A glamorous pose or gesture is evident in a similar fashion to Western film and music celebrities in its media churn. While the North Korean citizens blindly worship an ironclad leader, they expend their energy into honoring an idol, or image, that is nonexistent. Fans of pop icons like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe create mythologies about them based only on rumor or soundbites. These parallels between dictator worship and celebrity idolization is something I’m continuously exploring.
AN: What does the term “neo-pop” mean to you? And how does your work fit in with this?
PK: Neo-Pop art is Pop in a decidely Postmodern moment, roughly coagulating during the late 1980’s referencing Pop Art’s practical, critical and commercial revival. This term described works from artists such as Jeff Koons and Ed Ruscha. I have been fascinated with Pop ever since I was a teenager. I was immediately attracted to the use of bright, strong color and their comic book-like sensations. I would not say Neo-Pop was a deliberate practical path for me.
What’s next for you?
PK: I’m working on a new series called “The Dictator Hall of Fame,” focusing on famous dictators worldwide. A strong connective tissue joins dictator worship and celebrity idolization, as these these leaders increasingly resemble American Pop icons versus heads of state. “Muammar Jackson” is one example. The recently-deceased Libyan dictator Gaddafi acts like Michael Jackson.