RISK is a multifaceted contemporary artist, sculptor, and pioneering graffiti writer who was celebrated for more than three decades in the Los Angeles art community before gaining global acclaim. Emerging as a founder of the West Coast Graffiti movement, RISK now draws A-list celebrities, artists, musicians, fashion designers, and actors, such as Shepard Fairey and Dave Navarro, to collaborate at his sprawling Risk Rock Studios Compound in Thousand Oaks, Calif., a contemporary manifestation of Andy Warhol’s Factory. RISK has been compared to the Ferus Gallery movement and was deeply inspired by a conversation about Buddhism with the late painter Ed Moses, a seminal figure in the Post-War, West Coast art scene. Images of Buddha appear in his neon and Crossroads series, evoking a zenlike spirit that whirls amid the energy of recurring motifs such as butterflies, repurposed spray paint cans and labels, and myriad music and pop culture references, all coming alive with bold use of color. RISK’s enduring mastery of street art transcends categorization, embodying elements of commercial art, Pop Art, and color field painting.
RISK favors found objects and sustainable practices, creating a wide array of works with discarded everyday objects and fine art materials. RISK has uniquely sculpted sharks, dolphins, cows, and an LAPD cruiser severed in half, all crafted from a variety of reclaimed items including metals he calls metallic tissue. His latest series emerged during the pandemic when RISK began cutting up and weaving discarded paper to create large-scale canvases for his Crossroads paintings. Along with his ubiquitous butterflies, re-imaginings of the Rolling Stones logo and cartoon character Felix the Cat, as well as Buddhas, appear throughout his Crossroads paintings and in his neon electric fine art. His monumental murals and prints require multiple complex techniques and treatments. Beautifully Destroyed, a series of site-specific works, including commissioned pieces on large walls in Miami and Santa Monica, California, as well as on newspaper vending machines and fire hydrants, beginning in 2012, signaled RISK’s shift from graffiti to color field exploration.
Graval rose to prominence in the 1980s as one of the first graffiti writers in Southern California to paint freight trains. He hitchhiked to New York City after graduating high school and becoming the first LA writer whose work ran on a subway car in 1988. The following year, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority mandated that all subway cars be free of graffiti before running on the tracks. Music is central to RISK’s life and artistic oeuvre, spanning decades and styles, from writing graffiti for the backdrop of Michael Jackson's 1987 video The Way You Make Me Feel to designing the cover art for the 2019 Blink 182 album Nine. He has worked on private commissions and projects with dozens of musicians such as Aerosmith, Slash, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ice Cube, Bad Religion, House of Pain, Halsey. Major brand collaborations include work for the National Football League, Lyft, Monster Energy, Indian Motorcycles, and Marvel Studios. His collectors include world-renowned musicians and actors who frequent the compound. RISK’s work has been shown in leading galleries and was featured in the 2011 Art In The Streets at the Museum of Contemporary Art, LA, which was curated by Director Jeffrey Deitch and Associate Curators Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose. The exhibition traced the development of graffiti and street art from the 1970s to the global movement it has become today. His metal shark sculpture was included in the wildly successful Beyond The Streets exhibition in New York in 2019. RISK lives and works in Thousand Oaks, CA.
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