BÄST, NEW YORK ORIGINAL, IN MEMORIAM
May 6, 2021
Jaime Rojo, Brooklyn Street Art (Original Link)
(Photo: Stencil Archive caught this BÄST tag stencil in Brooklyn, Fall of 2003)
His wit is what we’ll miss the most! BÄST (Stencil Archive LINK) took no statement so seriously that he couldn’t satirize it – including ones that came from your mouth. A sweet-faced wiseguy with sartorial style, his illustrations on the street at once celebrated and skewered popular culture, codes of behavior, and our presumed heroics; His experimental reworkings of images and texts were a charged play on our assumptions and insinuations, an intrinsic, peculiarly bright purveyor of visual communication.
Thoroughly schooled in New York street parlance, BÄST nonetheless toyed with graff culture and its preoccupations. Some OGs of graffiti may have expected a polished vocabulary – a certain Wild Style finesse and layered smooth hand, perhaps. Neu D.I.Y kids were rocking long-handled rollers and beginning to fiddle with uncontrollable extinguishers. BÄST claimed his fame with a full-body gestural fury and indifference – a single color nihilistic splatter tag that nonetheless delivered style and raw energy, well framed by a freight elevator or a doorway.
When BÄST played in concert with duo Faile his compositions set new standards in image-making and manipulation, arguably defining a critical and intelligent street art culture that shook specific New York neighborhoods in the late 90s and early 2000s. Together they mastered new screen-print and stencil techniques on the street in real-time, poking fun at pop and advertising conventions at a scale not seen previously. Here were familiar, sometimes mysterious faces recombined, with messages chopped and collaged and stuttered and glittered, warped and bloated, sprayed and wheat-pasted.