As it happens within all art disciplines and practices, in graffiti you may find those who stand out as master writers of one media (mostly writing on walls, and trains), and those who venture and stretch themselves into unfamiliar domains that may prod their skills, expand their limits or thwart their purpose. In most cases, the tran-sition from one media to another — say from painting walls to painting on canvas, or doing photography, drawings, or sculpture — is rather difficult and challenging. Few have managed to feel at home with the changes, and fewer to succeed in the effort.
Rainman is one of those writers that not only has proven his strength and originality in his wall murals and interventions, but also on canvas, drawing and photography. Well-known and recognized throughout Great Britain, he has also displayed his singularly reinventive style on the walls of several European cities, including Berlin, Thessalonica and Prague, where he is celebrated as a distinguished graffiti artist. And yet, his canvases, photographs and drawings remain unknown, except to a few insiders. It seems surprising that, on the one hand, we have his public, dynamic and successful living forms everywhere on the Railway across London, throughout England, and elsewhere throughout Europe, and, on the other hand, very private, almost hidden remarkable works are still waiting to be discovered.
They are not two different kinds of works, though. They are not some sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde proposition. Both bodies of work — the public and the still-pri-vate — emanate similar interests and obsessions, even when they are distinctive from each other, and resolved with different media and skills. Perhaps his walls are more colorful and animated, perhaps more energetic. His canvases may be more controlled and admirably purposeful; resolute compositions that at times bring to mind some canvases of the master Philip Guston. And his photographs are stark and perfect, matter-of-fact documents of what links and bonds all Rainman works: the innards of our daily life, the hidden world of pipes and connections, the plumbing of our world.
With this first solo exhibition of Rainman at Martinez Gallery in Harlem, New York, we will have an exceptional opportunity to assess the entire scope of this remarkable artist for the first time.