Born in 1976, Poesia Transcend is a self-taught San Francisco Bay Area artist. During his early years as a graffiti writer at the turn of the nineties, he was recognized for his experimental Wildstyle pieces. In the middle of the decade, he became involved with the Transcend Collective. During this period, Poesia became one of the pioneering practitioners of what became known as Abstract Graffiti, along with Joker, Kofie, and SheOne from the collective. Contemporaries, half a world apart and unaware of each other, were the Ikonklast Movement in the UK, with Juice126, Part2ism, and Remi/Rough in the ranks, also exploring abstraction and progression.
In 2010, Poesia launched the blog Graffuturism.com. The site has become a podium to advocate “progressive graffiti” and unite a geographically disparate community of international artists and their audience. In 2011, at Art Art Basel Miami, Poesia also curated, In Situ, a mural painting collaboration with many artists associated with Graffuturism, such as Kofie, Mare139, Matt W. Moore, Remi/Rough, SheOne and more.
Poesia was recently featured in Complex Magazine’s 25 most important artists of 2012. He has also been a friend of and regularly involved with the inner circle of 12ozProphet.com since the nineties when he was in three of the only six issues of the printed magazine.
Poesia’s art displays his life-long interest in deconstructing letterforms to the point of abstraction, as well as his obsession with spray paint, and his love of painting outdoors. His recent letter-based work has transitioned from his earlier geometric abstract graffiti explorations towards a more expressionistic style. Poesia has been exploring techniques used by the Futurists and the Abstract Expressionists. Whether he’s painting a wall with spray paint or a canvas with oil paints, he wields a hybrid style that is able to bridge the gallery with the street, as well as history with the contemporary. With layers upon layers of paint, Poesia is able to build a deep dialogue between fine art and graffiti.
In a solo show this year, More Force than Judgment, Poesia challenged himself to paint figuratively in the style of the Old Masters. For the exhibition, Poesia drew inspiration from a quote by renaissance biographer Giorgio Vasari describing the work of Tintoretto. The quote resonated with Poesia because of his involvement over the past two decades with the Graffiti movement. Graffiti as an art form has not usually been taken seriously because it is perceived as consisting of actions and aesthetics that have to do more with force than judgment. Art historians and collectors in the past have been unable to make the connections between the power of a spray painted tag on the street, a Pollock drip on a canvas, or a Tintoretto sketch on a piece of paper. These relationships are made synonymous on these canvases as a pointed metaphor about the importance of the graffiti writer's mark on art history, as well as on the physical world itself.
In the paintings themselves, Poesia creates a direct dialogue with art history and graffiti's recently recognized, yet still contentious, central role in it in the new millennium. The compositions involve revised versions of old masterpieces that are influenced by the artist's history as a graffiti artist and the techniques and materials that he uses. As his traditional subject matter, he repaints historical masterpieces from the High Renaissance through the Baroque period. As his challenging commentary, he utilizes geometric abstraction to slice into them and graffiti tools wielded with an expressionistic stroke to disperse and obscure them. Poesia uses this visual dialectic to create a simile between new millennium masters and their historical counterparts, thereby making a statement that elevates both the art form and their practitioners, as well as progressing it's stylistic palette into the future.
2012: More Force Than Judgment, Anno Domini, San Jose, CA; The Composite Knowledge (with Jaybo Monk and Sam Rodriguez); PowWow Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii; LA Freewalls Inside, LaLa Gallery, LA. 2011: In Situ, Art Basel, Miami; Rudimentary Perfection, Recoat Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland; The Foundation Show (with Francisco Franco), Old Crow Gallery, San Francisco; Kofie vs Poesia, Collabo Arts, San Francisco; Fast Forward, 1am Gallery, San Francisco. 2010: Bang Yahoo Creative Canvas (with Sam Rodriguez), Collabo Arts, San Francisco; Walls of Fame, Empire Seven Studios, San Jose.
Sources: Information and texts compiled from the artist’s Facebook and Flickr site; the exhibition statement for More Force Than Judgment by Daniel Feral; and all of Daniel Feral’s articles on 12ozProphet about Poesia from 2012.