Peering menacingly out onto the streets from the windows of Howard Griffin Gallery, Giacomo Bufarini's monumental sculptural heads make for an intriguing spectacle in downtown LA. Seemingly poking their heads up through the concrete floor, submerged from the neck downwards, these mysterious, multicoloured giants are part of Bufarini's new solo show, Man Is God. 'Giacomo Bufarini is a pioneer of the European muralism wave of the 90s and 00s,' says gallery owner Richard Howard-Griffin of the London-based street artist. 'In terms of scale, it's the largest show that we have ever done and truly takes over the entire gallery space in Downtown LA.'
Having made his name under the pseudonym 'RUN' in the 1990s by creating street art on the walls of abandoned buildings across the globe, Bufarini made the transition from the street to the gallery last year with his first solo show at Howard-Griffin's London gallery space.
The heads, Griffin tells us, are made entirely out of paper by a family of Mexican piñata makers that Bufarini met in LA using old techniques passed down from generation to generation.
As well as the totemic heads, the gallery's main space has been lined with the Italian artist's large ceremonial banners in vivid colours that cover the walls from floor to ceiling. Oscillating between the neolithic and the modern, with industrial skylines layered against Pagan symbolism and iconography, the banners explore the origins of human civilisation and communicate that in the 21st Century, despite our evolution, our basic nature remains the same.
To the back of the gallery, a series of canvas works depicting natural symbolism such as the crescent moon, the sun, flora and fauna, evoke tribal flags, while a collection of monotypes depict abstracted versions of the sculptural heads.
'The title Man Is God is ambiguous,' explains Bufarini. 'What I believe is that man is not God. God can be found outside in nature and is the sensation that we are here. The heads inspired the title of the exhibition because like other ancestral civilsations the building of human heads is for celebrating human life.'