Today, New York City constitutes one of the most influential myths in the international cultural field. Over the past century, dozens of artists and authors have repeatedly referred to this image of the city of cities, seeking to capture and convey the spirit of the metropolis, modernity and personal experience of being there. New York is the main source of inspiration, motif and protagonist in the works of Harif Guzman, one of the outstanding figures of the street art scene in NY. The exhibition at MMOMA offers a large-scale panorama of different stages and facets in the evolution of his style, areas of work and spheres of interest. Iconic, straightforward pop imagery in Harif’s works is intertwined with the texture of private testimony, aggressive street poetry meets the intimacy of personal interactions, and the media aesthetic of New York in the 2000s intersects with the biography of the artist. Genealogically related to pop-art, street art always addresses the most urgent, visible images and problems existing in the common urban space, with a particular role played by the critique of mass culture, consumerist values, the worldview of the petit bourgeois. Guzman inherits this tradition, listing Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mike Kelly, Robert Rauschenberg as his teachers. Having started his artistic practice in the 1990s, by today he has evolved from an enthusiastic skateboarder who bombs the walls and streets of New York with the name of his fictional alter ego Haculla to a well-known artist who collaborates with fashion brands and makes friends with celebrities from the tabloids.
In his ironic works, where chance is as significant as the author’s intention, Guzman embodies the chaotic, fluid, unstable nature of the twenty-first century. Speed and free play, direct communication and direct impact are the hallmarks of his artistic strategy, in which the creative process itself is most important, the instantaneous capture of an ephemeral impression, noticed in passing and fixed in place. Although nominally the figures and details of everyday life encountered in the exhibition are related to the realities of everyday life elsewhere on earth, familiar features can be identified in them. The whole gamut of different cultural phenomena that have accompanied us in the last twenty years is reflected here in all its abundance.