Alex Face, MUEBON Make U.S. Debut with Vertical Gallery’s ‘Mythical Creatures’
Vertical Gallery, Chicago’s premier urban-contemporary art gallery, is very proud to present “Mythical Creatures,” the first-ever U.S. showing of Alex Face and MUEBON, two of Asia’s most acclaimed and incisive street artists.
“Mythical Creatures,” which runs from August 10-31, 2019, spotlights all-new works from Alex Face and MUEBON, both featured within the famed Souled Out Studios collective of artists. Alex Face and MUEBON will attend the “Mythical Creatures” opening reception, taking place at Vertical’s 1016 N. Western Ave. location from 6:00-9:00 pm on Saturday, Aug. 10.
“Alex Face and MUEBON are going to introduce people to a different style of street art than they’ve seen before,” said Patrick Hull, Vertical Gallery owner and founder. “These are two of the biggest Asian street artists — both are character-based, and there’s deep meaning in the messages they’re getting across, so pairing them is a natural fit. We’re thrilled to host their U.S. debut exhibition.”
Thailand native Alex Face (born Patcharapol Tangruen) is best known for his signature character Mardi, a three-eyed child often presented in a fuzzy rabbit costume. Inspired by the artist’s own young daughter, Mardi is by turns world-weary and wry, challenging viewers to consider the legacy that our children will inherit as well as what the future holds for successive generations. Long a fixture across the Bangkok cityscape and the Thai countryside, Mardi now adorns walls in locations including Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Jakarta, Oslo, Amsterdam and Paris — and soon, Chicago.
Alex Face discovered American graffiti art while studying fine arts at Bangkok’s King Mongktut University Institute of Technology, soon acquiring two cans of spray paint — one red, the other white — which he put to creative use on his own car. At first he painted his name, then moved on to depicting his face, a flourish that inspired the Alex Face moniker. His work has since gained recognition across the globe: in 2018, he occupied the Bank of Thailand Learning Center during the first Bangkok Art Biennale, and the following year, he exhibited in the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy. Alex Face has also collaborated with high-profile brands like COACH and Mercedes Benz.
Bangkok-based MUEBON (real name: classified) is renowned for biting social commentary on subjects spanning from wealth disparity to environmental activism to the pervasive influence of contemporary media — messages he delivers via his rotating cast of colorful characters, including a flightless cartoon bird named PUKRUK and Mr. TV, possessor of a television screen face. MUEBON is perhaps most synonymous with his Mickey Mouse-inspired skull stickers and wheatpastes, memento mori urging viewers to expel their feelings of anger, frustration and hopelessness in favor of embracing acceptance and finding inner peace.
A product of the first generation of Thai street artists, MUEBON has played a pivotal role in propelling the craft to notoriety and respect across his homeland — and beyond. Raised in the slums of Thonburi, MUEBON (an alias translating to “fidgety hands”) grew up obsessed with Japanese manga. He began his graffiti art career as a teen, often painting under the cover of darkness to avoid the local police, and defied the odds to earn a fine arts degree, in 2005 graduating with honors from the Rajamangala Institute of Technology. While street art remains MUEBON’s passion, he also has exhibited paintings and sculptures in galleries across Southeast Asia, Australia, Japan and Moscow, and in 2018 he partnered with luxury label Hermès.
‘'For over 10 years I’ve seen both MUEBON and Alex Face paint tirelessly on the streets, day in and day out, with incredibly recognizable styles,” said Chris Bowden, co-founder of Souled Out Studios. “Both artists don’t just have borderless skill with a spray can, but also with oils, watercolor, sculpture and print, making their translation into the gallery seamless.”
Image: Mue Bon