RASTY - IT'S ABOUT TIME
Painting graffiti since 1999 and tattooing since 2009, Rasty is an artist of many skills and job descriptions. His dedication to mastering his crafts has made him one of the most respected artists in the South African graffiti and lowbrow art communities.
As a graffiti artist Rasty has been instrumental in the growth of the Johannesburg graffiti scene over the last two decades. His artwork has continuously evolved in style, from letters to cartoons to photo realism and hybrid variations of all three, all the while executed with precision and a focus on technique. Through this continual pursuit of bettering his art he has inspired contemporaries and younger generations while setting the standard of quality for both.
Rasty’s ‘off the wall’ contributions to the local graffiti scene equal that of his physical artworks. In 2007 he opened Grayscale, South Africa’s only dedicated graffiti and art supplies store, supplying high quality imported and local materials over the counter in Johannesburg and online to Southern Africa.
Grayscale Gallery was launched in 2010 to provide a platform for graffiti artists looking to take their artwork into a gallery environment and present it in an exhibition format. Over the years the gallery has presented group and solo shows of artists at the forefront of the local graffiti movement as well as other ‘outsider’ art forms.
Rasty sees the city of Johannesburg and graffiti as the perfect partners in crime, to demonstrate this he conceptualized and hosted the City Of Gold Urban Art Festival. The festival is a week long event featuring international and local artists, large scale murals, exhibitions, film screenings and street tours. The purpose of City Of Gold is to establish Joburg as and international graffiti destination, inspire the local scene, and educate the public to the benefits and beauties of the art form. Six editions of the festival have been hosted since 2011.
Following a career in graffiti led Rasty to the world of tattoo art, the symbiosis of the two art forms seemed only natural. He has since established himself as one of South Africa’s finest tattoo artists, once again pushing the levels of style and technical quality, his work is well recognized both locally and internationally. In 2010 he opened 1933 Classic Tattoos where, together with other graffiti-turned-tattoo artists, he continues to provide the highest quality tattoos.
Rasty the artist, finds himself exploring two contrasting creative realms, that of figurative art and lettering art.
Both graffiti and tattooing have equally presented Rasty with a means to explore figurative forms and letter forms, add to this influences such as Surrealism on the one hand and calligraphy on the other, the possibilities are endless and the relationships are complicated. Rasty’s work flows constantly between these two realms, one sometimes having a stronger influence, then the other, and with a fair amount of overlap in between. It is the exploration of these evolving spaces that inspires Rasty to create.
IT’S ABOUT TIME
Time is money, time waits for no one, the time is now.
Time is spoken about in many ways, the context defines our perception of it.
There is the passing of time as we experience it on a daily basis, seconds, minutes, hours, days and so on. This time is live, we can watch it tick by on a clock, we have no control over it, and it is consistent into infinity, or at least appears to be.
Then there is the notion of spending time as a commodity. In this context we see time as our effort and focus invested into a particular task or challenge, out of this time spent comes some form of reward, it could be in the form of a financial exchange or simply for personal satisfaction. A person puts time into learning skills to ultimately master a craft or trade. This craft can then be practised as a hobby or pursued as a career. This kind of time we can control, generally speaking the more time we put in the more reward we get out.
In addition to these two concepts of time we also speak about a moment or moments in time. This usually refers to an action or event that has either passed, happening currently, or possibly occurring in the future. It is in this context that we would use the phrase “it’s about time”, and by that we would mean that a particular moment in time was being waited on for a long period of time.
This same phrase could however also be read more literally, for instance as a simple description of a book explaining time theory.
The title of Rasty’s debut solo exhibition ITS ABOUT TIME is inspired by these perceptions of time and are reflected somewhat indirectly in the work.
Considering it’s taken 24 years after starting graffiti for Rasty to get to this moment, saying it’s about time is really an understatement.
For over two decades Rasty has consistently put the time in. This is clear in the body of work he has created for this show. All the artworks demonstrate skills and techniques only acquired through years of dedication and practice.
With the passing of time comes evolution, evolution of beliefs, evolution of thinking, evolution of style. Rasty’s work shows the flow of this evolution, styles that developed in the streets and found a way to adapt to a new environment of the gallery.