Slave to KRS-One’s motto “you gotta have style and learn to be original”, Xenz is a true icon of the urban art form. Welcome to his delicately arresting cuckoo-land.
Once a kid spraying the inside of derelict warehouses in Hull, Xenz has since exhibited all over the planet including a show titled The Charm of the Hummingbirds at The Outsiders in London in 2012. This popular body of work combines traditional painting techniques with bursts of spray-paint.
The Screen employs gold leaf and acrylic on a vintage refurbished wooden dressing screen. Spatuletail (Two) uses acrylic and metal leaf on several layers of glass, and Going Round in Circles is a six-colour screen print, painted on gold and finished with hand-applied glitter. The hummingbirds are pretty and decorative but border on the psychedelic.
Xenz, inspired by Asian art, particularly the impressionistic brush strokes used in Chinese painting, creates opulent wildlife scenes within urban detritus to conjure up naturalistic worlds of fantasy. Elephant and Castle is an etching and silkscreen print soon to be released via The Outsiders. It depicts the boarded-up blocks of Heygate Estate behind a foreground of shadows and crows.
“Paradise is all in the mind”, says Xenz. He chops up the flora and fauna around him and creates a more paradisiac setting on canvas, one with infinite depth that he invites you to walk into.
Recently commissioned to decorate the lifts, rooms and lobby of London’s boutique hotel Malmaison, Xenz’s artistic vine is growing. He took inspiration from the surrounding plane trees and brought them inside. He wanted the guests to feel as if they “were birds coming to roost for the night”.
Referencing Enid Blyton’s The Magic Far Away Tree as an influence, Xenz paints pigeons, parakeets and sparrows but he does so on a specific species of tree, one that withstands pollution. With these subtle references, Xenz invites you to explore the ideas behind his urban scrawl and marks the way for a greater understanding.
The mixture of fine art with gritty urban scrawl is a powerful one that draws you in and leaves you suspended in his dreamlike world.