After talking with Rendo and just the day before the opening of XYZ, Floating Structures, here we go over with some interesting words by dutch master Zedz. Enjoy.
Even if both of you have some common elements in your profiles, I still find myself surprised to see an Amsterdam's oldschooler and one from Milano meeting for a commune art project: I yet rember the early '90s when most of oldschoolers from New York where passing through Milano and the ones from Europe were flying to Roma (I probably remember some pieces from you on Roma's subway, am I right?!?). In Italy that was considered a sort of Berlin Wall, a life choice, two different approaches to Graffiti Writing… time proved that that was definetly wrong. In my point of view from year 2000 everything started to develop so fast compared to the past 30 years. Today we really can speak of one unique global Graffiti Writing scene and the "Art" word is pronounced everyday more often by these same people, together with so strong and different contaminations that back in the old days would have never been accepted, but considered only "corruption of the True Writing Spirit". What do you think, and how much all these global changings have influenced your art?
I am surprised myself to find myself doing a two man show in Milan together with Rendo. It's the first time we meet for this show, we have no history together. I think it is quite exciting to collaborate as indeed we both started doing graffiti a long time ago and are somehow still working in that spirit though style-wise far away from the graffiti as we knew it as how it was when we started off.
Indeed I have been in Roma in the mid of the 90's. Graffiti started booming there at that time.
I dont see the point of 'corruption of the true writing spirit', though I understand what you mean to say with that. I think it is pathetic to put rules on other artist/writers/people and not 'think out of the box'. Of corse strict graffiti in the street, being illegal, has pretty tight rules, at the opposing side there is a free spirited way of thinking in which everything is possible and you are completely free to express yourself in which way and by the means as you like. That's clear. I feel free to do what I want as long as I have understanding, respect and awareness of my surroundings. For the last 10-15 years my work/art is not so much influenced by global changes in graffiti and street art as I am part of this changes myself I think it s a matter of give and take. I consider my work bound breaking I am part of the global changes myself.
It seems that you have developed a very rational, almost scientific way of imaging and designing your artworks. Where do you start from? Which place has the emotional side?
My work is indeed not emotional. I am. I think my work is many times a symbioses of many / a melting pot of style art historical elements (especially modern art). The starting point is graffiti. I am still playing my name-game.
I start from my name. Z-E-D-Z. The goal set is to do a good piece. Lettering, computers, architecture, graffiti, color schemes (old and new (?!)), available space, time and means (the media and its possibilities/ its limitations), modernism. These are a few of the building blocks / elements that melt together and form the base of my work.
A good piece for me is original, fresh and 'it makes you look.
Where does it started to grow this exhibition's idea?
In the kitchen of The Don gallery.
I would be curious to know which artists were inspiring you when you started painting and which you believe significant today.
When I started painting I was inspired by the (few) local graffiti bombers. Soon after that i was Inspired by graffiti artist from Amsterdam, Paris and of course by the documentary 'Style Wars' and 'Subway art' (1986). Kase2 made some good statements, I loved it when he mentioned " and the I put the computer on it' his lettering was great. Seen's graffiti was top notch as well… loads of diversity in that.
A few years later I started to dig artists like Vulcan, Rammelzee and Blade. Working on a very subliminal and deep 3D. I was really into all kinds of graffiti but I envied their way of working with space and dimensionality. At the same time I was interested in the work of El Lisitzky a russian constructivist (early 20th century).
At this moment I am drawing inspiration from Mondriaan (a Dutch modernist (early 20th century)), and Point from Prague. I like the fact that at the beginning of last century Mondriaans (a.o.) work was so revolutionary, many times I wonder… how…? Point I see doing huge works and at the same time search for composition and originality.
Graffiti in general keeps inspiring to me and I enjoy to flip through magazines or surf the internet to see whats going on around the world. More and more I am surprised by diversity and quantity. This motivates and inspires me a lot too.
Rendo says that Street Art is getting more attention by young artists 'cause Graffiti Writing has too many rules, and that's is killing it. Is Writing developing less compared to past years? What he basically says is that there are still some crazy innovators around the world, but they are less and less. Demonstration is, for example, last years's trend of reproducing very old styles from the beginnings, even tryin to repeat "rude" techniques: funny, but too easy.
I still see a lot of youngsters that start doing graffiti though indeed 'streetart' came up a lot. Perhaps not everybody gets inspired by tagging and letters lately but are more looking for figurative and meaning. In streetart the work might be created and prepared in advance and applied on the streets which gives an artist the opportunity to create in a different pass… In my opinion there are many reasons for artists why to choose different ways then only the graffiti way. I dont think graffiti is necessary very limited by the rules or the style, it is the artist that can play with the rules or even brake them. I myself am not really in favour of the retro style but I am not here to criticize, I rather enjoy watching work and take it as it comes. We are all free to create what we like, I think thats where this whole street-thing should be about.
Wich quality do you prefere in an artist?
The personal quality, the signature and the artist that is searching and researching and comes up with some kind of fresh and a somewhat ignorant output. The artist that brakes the laws of art the artist that shakes the ground of establishment..
…and which one in a friend?
The quality of sharing and exchanging – sharing thoughts/exchanging ideas – the quality of being realistic and open to all concepts. A friend is loyal, a friend is there to understand and be honest and fair.
How much a good artist must be a good man?
Like anybody else who isn't an artist… the same applies to all, artist or not. Though you dont have to be a good man to be a good artist.. (as you dont have to be a good man to be a good barman or chef….or something)
Do you live by your art?
I couldnt live without it… I live from it but its not easy… Many times I make the wrong investments… but in the end it all pays off.
What do you love to do when you're off from work?
Snowboarding, driving my bike or I will be drinking or eating with friends… I spend some time sleeping… traveling… and spend quality time with my family… I like to go to the spa and reading books. Watching (old) comedy's from the BBC. But actually there is not a lot of free time… my work is my life.
What music do you listen at when you sketch or paint?
I am a hiphop head, RZA, Kool Keith, Mad Lib, Aesop Rock, Lootpack, Defari, Phil the Agony, just to name a few, and of corse old all kinds of school hip-hop but also really like to listen to techno~ photek, Amon tobin, square pusher… besides this I like the old disco that I grew up with and R&B the list goes on and on… basicly I like music in general… More funny might be that sometimes I like to work in silence… no music at all… or with the tv in the background.
What other talent would most like to have?
Non in particulair… Besides being a wicked person… having wicked fun… I would have other skills if my ambition wasn't be for painting… ( I am quite good with digits and numbers… I could have been a book keeper or psychologist… I like calculating)
What is your greatest ambition?
Making good work. A few pieces that turn out great. Perhaps doing a huge 3D sculpture more huge then the ones I did… I would like to get the chance to do a few works that blow my own mind. Monumental work…
If you could get a complimentary remark from an artist, who would make you feel proud?
I dont know. I did get a compliment here and there from artists that made me proud. At this moment I feel the pride should be within, it s me who should give myself a compliment and thats not too easy… I am my own critic… I am my own master…
And what will make you say: allright, this new exhibition in Milano has been a success?
If Rendo and me establish a special show. Even though it might be in a classic context of doing gallery art shows. Selling some works could add to this, but more important might be the in-crowd's appreciation, somehow I still like to work for the appreciation of the friend. It might sound stupid but I am still working for the competition's appreciation.
When you check a piece in the street, aerosol art or street art, what is the first thing you look at?
I dont know exactly but I think if it is executed in some way clean… Even it might have a rotten looks it probably needs to be all tight or 'tidy'… I like to see proper executed styles.
Which kind of new Zedz artworks are we going to find at the show? I've heard you'll be painting the wall outside the gallery, too…
It's all new work, strictly paintings or as I prefer to call them drawings. Its typographic, it all spells my name, Zedz somehow. The works are mainly build up from horizontal and vertical lines and appear to be 2 dimensional but have a lot of 3 dimensional qualities. The work is very refined. It's a style and idea that I ve been developping over the last two years.
Last question is about your Country: what's happening there in the Street Art / Graffiti Writing scene? Which artists do you consider more interesting right now?
I dont hold records of whats going on in the streetart/graffiti scene. I know there is still a lot of (train) bombing and I feel that streetart is at an all time minimum. In my opinion the streetart is many times conceptual and moved indoors a lot. There is not a lot of Dutch artists that is surprising to me at this moment. Perhaps I dont see all the output and am missing out on new and upcoming artists. I have some friends whom's work I check out some times, like EHGZ~ Graphic Surgery or Two Things / Boghe and Morcky and The London Police.