Curated by Jeffrey Deitch, China’s first major exhibition of graffiti & street art opens during Art Basel Hong Kong

Art Martin Cid Magazine, Martin Cid Magazine, January 31, 2023

K11 MUSEA presents City As Studio, China’s first major exhibition of graffiti and street art, tracing the evolution of a global movement.


Curated by Jeffrey Deitch and supported by K11 Art Foundation, it will feature works by genre pioneers including Jean-Michel Basquiat, CRASH, Fab 5 Freddy, OSGEMEOS, Keith Haring, Lady Pink, and Lee Quiñones.


Curated by Jeffrey Deitch, City As Studio, China’s first major exhibition of graffiti and street art opens at K11 MUSEA this Spring. Running from20 March to 14 May 2023 to coincide with Art Basel Hong Kong, the monumental exhibition will feature over 100 works by more than 30 artists, showcasing the breadth and depth of the graffiti and street art scene across generations, styles and geographies.


City As Studio traces the global history of graffiti and street art from its emergence in the subway yards and parking lots of 1970s New York to its rise as a worldwide phenomenon. It begins with the movement’s pivotal innovators such as Fab 5 FreddyFUTURA and Jean-Michel Basquiat who were part of the dialogue and the Downtown art scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and goes on to highlight artists such as Barry McGeeMister Cartoon and OSGEMEOS, and the groundbreaking styles they created in San Francisco, East Los Angeles and São Paulo. The exhibition also documents the emergence and evolution of artists such as KAWS and AIKO who represent a younger generation of New York street artists.


Jeffrey Deitch elaborates: ‘City As Studio is the most extensive exhibition on the history of street art to be presented in China. The exhibition features major works by the innovators in street art from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, São Paulo, Paris, and Tokyo. It provides an immersive introduction to this vital movement which continues to resonate today.’


Highlights include Basquiat’s Valentine (1984), on loan from the personal collection of Paige Powell, alongside works by other seminal artists such as The Bomb (1983) by CRASH and Untitled (1983), a spray painting by Keith Haring spanning three metres. Portraits such as Keith Haring (Red) (2010) and Basquiat (Red) (2010) by Shepard Fairey demonstrate how early practitioners of the genre continue to inspire younger artists, while FUTURA’s work El Diablo (1985) – part of KAWS’ personal collection – exemplifies the intergenerational dialogue and influence between street artists working today. JR’s work Eye Contact #13 (2018) evokes old school rail yards as model trains on tiny tracks move back and forth, creating an optical illusion on each run.  Examining how the movement shaped other genres, the exhibition will also display works such as Charlie Ahearn’s film Juanito, which captures the story of his twin, sculptor John Ahearn making casts of people in Bronx and immortalising them in plaster. Elsewhere, works by AIKO and Lady Pink will explore how female artists responded and contributed to a genre traditionally dominated by men.


Adrian Cheng, Founder of K11 Art Foundation, comments: ‘Jeffrey has been at the forefront of the institutional acceptance of street art, and we’re delighted to be working with him to bring this landmark exhibition to China. The cultural innovation embodied by works that defined a generation, street art’s global artistic influence and its ability to powerfully engage diverse audiences is reflective of our wider mission.’