The Great Escape with JMR

  • JOYCE Gallery is delighted to announce its collaboration with American artist JM Rizzi, better known as JMR, on a special installation inspired by the theme “Escape”.
    The project is launched to coincide with the arrival of Art Basel Hong Kong, one of the most respected Art Fairs in the world. To celebrate the occasion, JMR has created a special installation at JOYCE Central and Harbour City. Combining tools and techniques associated with graffiti, the energy of abstract expressionism and shapes and colours of traditional pop painting, he has created vibrant and colourful murals exclusively for both boutiques.

    "Art for me is a form of escapism. Away from the daily routines, the mind numbing jobs. Escaping not with a sense of despair, but with focus, and a sense of unknowing."

    JMR has grown up with the influences of street art and the established art world constantly around him. He looks to demonstrate the scale and motion set forth by early abstract expressionists and reinterprets the ideas within his own personal adaptation. JMR participated in the 11 Spring St show in 2006 and The Underbelly Project in 2010. He has also shown with street art legends such as Blek Le Rat, Banksy, Basquiat and many more.

    The paintings are displayed in the windows of JOYCE Central and Canton Road until June 6. Limited paintings are available for sale. The artist from Brooklyn, New York, shared with JOYCE the unique insights into his art world.

    What is the concept of the installations and paintings for JOYCE?
    My work, in general, always reflects my current state. Sometimes clean, austere and flat; other times expressive, dirty and experimental. It's a dichotomy. This is the first time I will be showing both of those sides together and in large format.

    What is art to you?

    Art for me is a form of escapism. As a child I would prefer to copy the comic books that intrigued me than other activities. In my teenage years, writing graffiti was an escape from the ills of confusion. My studies at the School of Visual Arts were an escape from the middle class environment I was raised in. The artwork I've created in public, roaming the streets till the early morning, the exhibitions and commissions I've had since, have all been an escape towards a life of art. Away from the daily routines, the mind numbing jobs. Escaping not with a sense of despair, but with focus, and a sense of unknowing. Escaping towards the ideal life, if only lived briefly in hours spent in the studio or painting on a wall. Where inspiration can stand up to frustration, there is struggle in balance.

    My first showing in Hong Kong continues that "escape".

    What are the differences among your public graffiti, studio and installation work?
    When I create something in public, my audience is everyone. I try to make art that will enrich the community and can be enjoyed by the average person going about their everyday life. When I create art for an exhibition, my audience is much smaller. There is a dialogue of art that is relevant to the viewer, and I want to contribute to that dialogue.

    How did you become an artist?

    I don't know that I became an artist or that I always was. It was what I did since childhood. I was the artist in the family, in school. It was what I did well. And it excited me. The same way it does today. I get the same feeling I did as a child, the elation. People admire artists, it’s an honor to be able to make art. I hold that responsibility with great sincerity.

    What do you enjoy most about your work?

    What I enjoy most is the feeling of oneness when everything is working. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of disjointed actions to achieve it, mixed with the discipline to simply try. But when it works, when I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone to take on the risks of destroying a piece in order to get something out, and we must get them out. It’s sometimes spiritual. That is what I enjoy most.

    Where do you think art is going?

    Art is a reflection of humanity. Sometimes it feels mundane and contrived. And other times it is bristling with brilliance. And I think the same can be said for humanity. Anything we witness today has already been done, so I can't honestly say what’s next.

    When you're not working, what do you enjoy doing?

    Being a father, learning from my daughter.

    Interview by Lucienne Leung-Davies