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Vhils: Annihilation in Los Angeles

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

José Pando Lucas/ Jon Furlong
March 8, 2018

When we think of the 'home of culture', ideas might range from Florence to Paris, without ever agreeing on a consensus. The home of popular culture though, is unquestionably the United States and Los Angeles is the epicentre. Check out Vhils' latest solo exhibition, Annihilation in LA.

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Running from the 23rd of February to the 1st of April, the exhibition is not only the first solo exhibition for Vhils in Los Angeles, but also the inaugural show of Over The Influence Los Angeles, the 7,000 square foot gallery in the city's Arts District.


Over the last two years Vhils has been creating a narrative exploring various topics related to globalisation and its effects. On one hand there is the impact on local identities and on the other the larger side-effect of widespread cultural homogenisation.


The exhibition is a poetic interrogation of the facets and fallout of the process, shining the light on the impact of mass popular culture on various behaviours, identities, ideas, trends and beliefs, and how each is becoming more uniform as the unique features of local cultures are being eroded in the name of profit and convenience.

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Los Angeles is the beating heart of Western cultural hegemony - the home of celebrity and cinema. It is this choice of location that bestows the exhibition with added significance.


Beyond looking at the effects of globalisation on the world, here in Annihilation, Vhils has been able to reflect on the way it has affected his own ideas and work, having seen the process in action in various locations around the world.


In many ways it's a return to the spiritual home for the contents of the exhibition, as the artist states, "the exhibition can also be seen as staging their symbolic return to the city and culture that gave rise to them after they were absorbed and reinterpreted in multiple location around the world". As the works reflect this accelerated paradigm shift in our globalised world, with Vhils carving into the layers of various materials from various locations - the true essence of each is revealed, the layers that lie dormant underneath the glossy adverts and homogenised images that characterise globalisation.

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The exhibition features brand new works utilising the mediums that have become synonymous with the artist - billboards, discarded doors, acid-etched metal and concrete dioramas. The materials come from all over the world (Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon, Beijing and more) and have a patchwork quality - a mirror of culture itself. Each piece stands on its own, but stitched together, becomes something entirely different, a mosaic of meditations and influences.


On this, the artist states that "This intentional juxtaposition of materials and subject matter mirrors the interplay between elements from various cultures which we observe at work today in the large urban environments, and seeks to both confront and establish a dialogue that explores the underlying similarities and differences between them."


This exhibition marks a landmark for the artist - displaying works in a city that has influenced and informed so much of his output and perspective. It's also a statement of change - for both the artist and the environments that he depicts. Both are continually evolving, reacting to external stimulus as well as setting their own standards. If the two - artist and environment - can continue this unique interplay, this is not only an exhibition of now but a statement of things to come.


Check out the gallery here: https://www.facebook.com/overtheinfluencela/ and the event here: http://overtheinfluence.com/exhibitions/annihilation

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Besides the exhibition, Vhils and his crew took to the streets and created some pieces around Los Angeles: one with Shepard Fairey, one with LA local Retna and one on his own.

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