Outdoors in: graffiti artist Maser stages his first solo show at Lazarides in London
Irish-born graffiti artist Maser was given his name by mates at the pub when he was fifteen – and it just stuck.
This accidental moniker is now at the centre of the global public art scene. Last summer, Maser was artist in residence for the Sydney Festival, and he also exhibited last autumn at Palais de Tokyo's celebrated 'Perspective Playgound' exhibition.
Thus far, 'Maser' has been synonymous with his ballsy outdoor murals. For a new exhibition at London's left-field Lazarides gallery, Maser, who has a fine-art education, wanted to 'refine' his painting and 'switch heads', from public installation-maker to traditional painter.
'Any chance to get outdoors and I take it,' he admits, which explains the gemeotric vinyl shapes that he has grafted to the gallery windows – a psychadelic vision to brighten the otherwise muted Fitzrovian street. Steve Lazarides – who owns the gallery, itself already notable for exhibiting works by Banksy – worked collaboratively with Maser and his team, allowing them to paint the walls, ceilings and doors. Indeed, the space looks entirely Maser-ed. The artist explains how the private view felt like a 'house-warming' because he was surrounded by friends and family from Ireland – and because he had just re-decorated. Dark grey walls with gemoetric inserts frame his vibrant, multicoloured canvases.
The works are loosely based around the show's title, 'Orbiting on the Periphery'. Body parts ambiguously sprout from colourful centrepoints, and abstract shapes pile on top of each of with abandon. But, Maser explains, the title represents more than just the works on display. 'I feel like I'm orbiting the periphery a bit. My art is outside the realm of the normal, and maybe I've always felt like that socially, too.
'But I don't want to ram a theme or concept down people's throats,' Maser clarifies. 'When I go to a gallery, I like to find the art on my own. I'll see something and it catches my eye, and then I can make my own mind up about it.' In this way, these new artworks act as a bridge between their more traditional, Georgian gallery setting and Maser's outdoorsy oeuvre.
'Orbiting on the Periphery' doesn't mark a complete about-turn from the public art Maser is renowned for. In fact, when Wallpaper* spoke to him, he was climbing down the scaffolding surrounding a (newly colourful) Walthamstow pub.