Carlos Mare

Carlos Mare -born 1965 NYC, recognized as a cultural asset of the early NYC subway art movement (1976-1986) in 1985 pioneered a novel version of graffiti style writing as modernist metal sculpture. His early works began as literal translations of wild style letters which folded in and out of space and pierced through themselves. The sculptures were painted metal reliefs that held on to the foundations of style writing but provoked a deeper question about the application of a medium to a surface. He would then affix his sculptures against building brick walls to study the kinetic nature of graffiti on a structure, the first ever graffiti structural intervention which he would revisit over his 27 years of practice.

By 1986 he moved beyond the confines of letter based works to focus on the more expressive and free form sculpting with a modernist influence. His admiration of early Cubist, Futurist and Russian Avante Guarde painting and sculpture inspired his marriage of these aesthetics with the dynamic and expressive force of urban culture. He is a member of the Agents of Change alongside Remi, Timid, Jaybo Monk, Kofie, LX and others.

A 2011-12 Scholar in Residence and teaching artist at New York University's Metropolitan Center for Urban Education Carlos Mare educates and lectures throughout the US and Europe lending his voice to the importance of arts advocacy and cultural literacy to ensure and promote the rich legacy of contemporary urban arts. 




pioneers are the first to see it and last to be seen’ a poignant statement to base ones work from. It is from the vantage of history that graffiti sculpture was created, it was an homage to an art form and a much needed progression into its future.

Sculptor Carlos Mare infused life into 2 dimensional graffiti painting at a time when the novelty of the genre was wearing thin on New York City in 1985, long gone were the subway paintings, the ‘bouquet of south american flowers’ Claus Oldenburg celebrated, so in response to this change he embarked on a challenge and a celebration of his genre by constructing full sized metal reliefs which looked like they were literally peeled off the side of subway cars.

“Initially the sculptures were an exercise traditional style writing forms. The illusion of letters floating in space and piercing themselves was invented in the early 1970s by the style pioneers. They eluded to physical space and volume with the use of paint, I just took some of that energy and modernized it with metal.”

By making it tactile the challenge then became about what it could become and therein lies the importance of his early breakthrough works. In 1986 he began bridging art history into his work and began stewing it with great result as seen in the Paradigm Shifter sculpture (1986) wherein constructivist influences began to show in his used of light form and architectural space as vital parts of the end result. It is not just about constructed space in which this work is concerned but concentric and rhythmic space which he attributes to breakdancing and music.

It is in this period he begins drawing in space, something of a natural act for an aerosol artist. “The open space drawing in my sculpture can be attributed to graffiti but also Julio Gonzalez, Picasso, and Calder, even David Smith”. Equally influential is the architectural engineering of New Yorks subway system, architecture and bridges. “once I began thinking in constructive terms my surrounding were analyzed by form, structure depth, and illusionary space the suggested volumes cast by light”.

In subsequent work like the FreeStyle Archityper (2008-12) series one can see this process activated on architectural space, where the environment would dictate the ‘structural intervention’ required. The FreeStyle Archityper 1 was created while in residency at Brighton University School of Art in England where he created a large scale mirror polished stainless steel installation that wove up and through a 30‘x20’ gallery wall. He embedded lights within it so that in the evening a new character of the work would be revealed, “when I used the small lights in my installation I was hoping just to emphasize areas of critical thinking that would get lost in the reflection of the metal, to my surprise the result it added a deeper dimension as to how we could interact with the sculpture, now forms were more emotive and curious.”

His more recent works are a lot more expressive and have ventured deeper into the open space he attributes this to the dynamic and attitude he acquired in his youth, the raw energy and aggressiveness of the ‘Bboy’. “there is a direct link to me and the music and dance of my culture, I give it visual form, I reinterpret it with the best modern aesthetic to serve it wether cubofuturist or constructivism, or graffiti this olden language serves it equally well.”

The Bboy series begun in 2005 illustrates this modernist affinity, inspired by the movement of the Bboy dance and its symbiotic relationship with other improvisational forms of expression born from rhythm, gesture and style these works marry the abstract, gestural nature of graffiti writing with the motion of the b-boy dance, effortlessly capturing the essence of the subject in new symbolic, linguistic, and spatial formulations.

Robert Smith sites “Carlos Mare’s Bboy characters, so refined and visually direct, become coded representations of the dancer’s repertoire of movements and poses. In much the same way that staffed symbols are used to represent the written form of musical notation, so too the simple, gestural icons come to express a visual codification, a defined scale of available movements.” 

Recently honored by the U.S State Department as a Cultural Ambassador for Graffiti Arts. A 2011-12 Scholar in Residence and teaching artist at New York University's Metropolitan Center for Urban Education Carlos Mare educates and lectures throughout the US and Europe lending his voice to the importance of arts advocacy and cultural literacy to ensure and promote the rich legacy of contemporary urban arts. 



Selected Solo Exhibitions & Residencies

2012 | Art is Study | Pratt Institute, US
2011 | Structural Interventions | The Collective, Miami
2011 | Carrack Modern, NC
2010 | FreeStyle Archityper 2 | Raw Space Gallery, New York
2009 | B-Lines b-Boy Drawings and Sculpture | Fifty8 Gallery, New Jersey 2009 | Reflections on Stylewriting | Longwood Art Gallery, New York
2008 | FreeStyle Archityper | Brighton University of Art, England (Residency)

Selected Group Exhibitions (Inside and Outside)

2012 | Streets of the World | Opera Gallery, New York
2012 | New York City Kings | RTist Gallery, Melbourne
2011 |
El Museo del Barrio Street Files Biennal | New York
2011 | Martha Cooper: Remix | Carmichael Gallery, Los Angeles
2010 | Art in the Streets | MOCA, Los Angeles

2009 | Tag au Grand Palais | The Grand Palais, Paris
2008 | The Drawing Hand | Magda Danysz Gallery, Paris
2009 | All that Glitters is Gold |
McCaig-Welles Gallery, New York
2008 | The Piece Process | Anonymous Gallery, New York
2008 | Graffiti: Spirit of an Age | Longwood Art Gallery, New York
2008 | Nancy Victor Christmas Show | Nancy Victor Gallery, London
2007 | Backjumps: The Live Issue 3 | Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin
2007 | The Walls Belong to Us | Powerhouse Arena, New York
2006 | Hip Hop Don’t You Stop: Martha Cooper & Mare 139 | Abrons Art Centre, New York
2006” No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn: A Powerhouse Hip Hop Retrospective | Powerhouse Arena, New York
2006 | Outsides project | Wuppertal, Germany
2001 | Renaissance 2001 Exhibition | NYCUEM, New York