David v. Goliath

We’re as fond of Banksy as anyone of our general socioeconomic background and sensibility, admiring his work, his audacity, and his ability to elude authorities like some street-art Roadrunner. But for sheer guerrilla art cred, Banksy has a rival in David Choe, who spent three months in a Japanese jail for assaulting a security officer while on a bombing run. Have you ever spent time in a Japanese jail? We haven’t either, but we suspect the wardens don’t share our effete appreciation of street art. At least Choe’s yakuza thug cellmates did: According to an interview Choe did for Juxtapoz, he kept them off his back by wowing them with his art skills. Of course, there’s much more to Choe than his time spent in the Japanese clink. His work is obsessively detailed in a way more befitting a gallery wall than a dilapidated street corner. It’s also provocative as shit: Choe’s scrawled-yet-meticulous portraits of half-naked women or his mercurial Obama portrait are unremittingly raw and restless, conveying a constant sense of movement. Since his work is so propulsive, it’s strange to see it enshrined in book form, as it is in his new monograph, which he signs tonight. Regardless, Choe’s work moves whether placed on a derelict street, on a gallery wall, or in a bound volume.
Thu., July 29, 6:30 p.m., 2010

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