About Graffiti Palindromes

The advent of urban mural graffiti has been one of the more controversial occurrences of recent times. Both vilified and praised, it rarely goes unnoticed and the most accomplished ones always demand attention. Like all original creative movements, it began spontaneously and evolved its own unique style. The muralists are a serious lot for the most part, yet are often highly unsophisticated about modern art. They are driven by creativity, and a close inspection reveals that the many forms they employ are timeless. Their basic aesthetic concerns are common to all artists- color, form, rhythm, and technical mastery of chosen medium.I was fascinated by this a number of years ago when I spent an afternoon with a group of young muralists who gave me a tour of obscure sites in San Francisco that I would not have found on my own. Despite a significant difference in our age and education, these aspiring high school students spoke with me fluently on an abstract level. They were almost without knowledge of art history, yet they instinctively knew the language of craft. They talked about their palettes which consisted of carefully selected colors by different manufacturers, and how they chose marker pen shades to match for use in their sketchbooks. One of them explained how he modified spray valves to achieve certain effects and showed me his favorites which he always carried with him so as not to lose them. We discussed the struggle and methods of resolving compositions, the music of forms and emotion of color. But when I pointed out that some their sketches reminded me of Klee and Kandinsky, they asked who are they? That day was a revelation despite the fact that I’d been photographing graffiti details for years to use as reference elements in my own paintings.

It’s the details that have always interested me more than the murals themselves. The spontaneity, rhythm, splatter, and texture are both contemporary and urban. These things, along with the random fragmentation of torn up poster walls are among the ubiquitous contemporary forms that surround us and which, to varying degrees, are etched into the mass consciousness. Both are basic to my art.

The Graffiti Palindromes are created from my photographs, and so named to be a visual representation of the word. To my mind, some are reminiscent of stained glass windows, while others recall the mandalla. The intent has been to transform familiar imagery into something entirely different. They were composited and extensively altered in PhotoShop and digitally printed with Epson UltraChrome ink on 100% cotton rag paper.

Charles exhibits in theĀ Museum of Computer Art (MOCA) of which this is a distinguised member website.