31 May 2014

Serval Book of Lines at Next Door Gallery

Next Door crew. Photo by Susanne Erhardt
Last weekend, the Mrs. and I found ourselves in Geneva, Switzerland for the opening of Serval's first hometown solo show, Book of Lines at Next Door Gallery. Yes, he is Swiss, but thanks to a father from the BX and five straight years (or were they crooked) in Philadelphia from 1995–99 as a member of the infamous Fishtown crew OAL, he's able to fool most of us into believing he's an East Coast native. Yet his cultural ambiguity extends beyond remembering when hookers and bar fights dominated the streets under the El. Anyone who has seen his graffiti has trouble believing that this cat is from Europe. Just Google "serval graffiti" to see what I mean. It's a lesson to us all to put in the work, study the culture's history, ask questions, travel to meet the pioneers and never stop practicing.

My role in this show would be courier. The gallery had the catalogues printed in London, and I was to hand deliver them in Geneva.

One spread from the catalogue shows the thoughtful way in which the invites for the private view were produced. Serval painted onto a mosaic of small pieces of wood. These pieces were then taken apart and given to the legendary Swiss printer Christian Humbert Droz, who screenprinted "Serval" outlines onto them. Anyone who was invited to the show received a limited edition piece of art in the post. Sweet.

Another special touch to this show was that each painting was accompanied by a hand written poem (each in a different graffiti handstyle of course). The poems added context to the paintings by explaining the processes, life lessons, fun memories, dark times, etc. which led up to this moment of creative output. I teared up a bit when Serval gave me my own poem which pretty much summed me up (yeah, I said it).

All-in-all, the show was a success. Old friends came out of the woodwork, and the vibe was beautiful. The sun set late, the air was warm and the culture continued. If you're in Geneva between now and 15 June, pop into Next Door Gallery for a look. A special thanks to Sarah Csillagi for the photos.