An answer to graffiti art

In anticipation of two new solo exhibitions of his work opening in New York City, writer Brett Sokol profiles street artist, illustrator, and comics creator Richard McGuire. From The New York Times:

Posters featuring Ixnae Nix receive central billing, drawing upon nearly 150 variations that Mr. McGuire plastered throughout Soho, Tribeca and the East Village. Using oversized sheets of blank newsprint he would spray paint a silhouette of the spiky-haired Ixnae Nix, usually in a state of frenetic motion, and then use a crayon to neatly fill the edges with cryptic text, all without spacing or punctuation. The net effect married a hard-boiled voice straight out of old detective movies — “I Knew She Could Whistle;” “Someone No One Remembers Who;” “Good And Sick Of The Whole Business” — to unsettling science-fiction imagery, akin to Jean-Luc Godard’s film “Alphaville.”

But Mr. McGuire says he was more inspired by rumblings from underground than the stars above.

“I wanted to do an answer to graffiti art,” he recalled. “I can still see that cast of character names when the subway would pull into the station, all with their own code names: Futura, Lady Pink. So I had mine: Ixnae Nix. I would hear those words in 1940s movies. Ixnae is the pig Latin of nix. And I like the double negation, it just sounds good.”

exhibitions New York City Richard McGuire

In Manhattan, Alden Projects will host Richard McGuire: Art for the Street–1978-1982, and at MoMA PS1, another exhibition will open this weekend at the New York Art Book Fair. Four years ago, in association with a show at The Morgan Library & Museum, Pantheon Books published McGuire’s Here, a stunning, full-color graphic novel grounded in an experimental black and white strip that the artist contributed to anthology magazine RAW in 1989 (see my post). Read Brett Sokol’s story here.

“Here” original strip © 1989 Raw Books & Graphics.