David Choe’s long anticipated return to Japan definitely includes a wall to mark the occasion. UP founder and curator, Matt Revelli speaks about Choe’s career and his path to success for the occasion of his final return to Tokyo:
“Ever since we exhibited his first gallery show in San Francisco, artist David Choe has been an integral part of the Upper Playground family, traveling the world throughout Asia, Europe and North America, representing Upper Playground’s spirit and core with his own aligned to ours of getting things done when everyone says that it can’t or couldn’t be. Not a slacker or a trustafarian, David has instead imbued and embodied every act of his with a never sleep attitude governed by a respect for time and opportunity, with a direct and genuine gratitude and positivity that is as infectious as it is infamous. Like a preacher whose every canvas is a sermon, he paints and sculpts the gospel of his soul; and through the myriad of different products he creates in stores, streets, schools, and galleries worldwide, David is one of the only artists that understands how to use Upper Playground in the way it’s designed to be used. However, the shadow of history always follows its figure. Eight years ago David travelled to Tokyo to oversee an exhibition and collection created in collaboration with Upper Playground. The pendulum of his person had him switching roles from collaborator to confidant and artist to ally and it was on this trip that everything changed- we got word that David had been arrested for punching a security officer in the face and was going to be imprisoned for 7 years. Banned from visitation, we were forced to get updates through our distributor by phone. It was a roller coaster of emotions, with one day being positive and the next completely devastating. Finally, after 90 days, we got a call saying he was getting out. He returned a humble man, having lost 40-50 lbs., grateful for his experience. He didn’t curse his time or situation like most men would, his feeling was he got his due: he was in prison not for hitting the security officer, but rather, for all the crimes and sins he had committed up until then and had never been caught for. It was a cathartic experience and an opportunity to repent for all the crimes he had been committing daily throughout his entire life. And in true Choe fashion, he turned an overwhelmingly negative experience into a positive one by creating hundreds upon hundreds of prison drawings and sketches, exhibiting the work in New York. From there his paths and roads, though intricate with obstacles, would carry him to greater and higher heights that have him standing where he is today as one of the top artists in the world still spreading the ethos of Upper Playground.People often try to dissect and understand the how’s and why’s to his success. The answer is simple: he looks at failure and success as equal opportunities. “- Matt Revelli
Latest photos from Japan check it out:
Japanese illustrator and calligraphist, Usugrow who opened his solo show ‘INKFLOW’ at Fifty24SF Gallery this past weekend just completed a second wall at Upper Playground, San Francisco. Titled ‘ Talking with Moon’ the wide mural with sloped repeat patterns of the letter ‘I” has the meaning of the ”Eye” and the self ‘I” spreading out from the corner ‘Moon’.