Kimou Meyer, aka Grotesk, arrived in New York at precisely the moment when the new downtown art scene spilled over into stores, products and brands. You may recognize his work from the recent Juxatpoz Newsstand that was down in Miami for Art Basel and returned to New York City’s Time Square, but for over fifteen years, Kimou worked with or for almost all the key players in that ever-changing game, drawing on his classical training and fresh eyes on the city to develop an iconic graphic language and style. Still living and working in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Kimou now divides his time between family, running his co-owned creative agency, Doubleday & Cartwright, and making art under the Grotesk pseudonym. Read on to find out more about his debut release Riots! and more including his #overheardbygrotesk series below…
1x: Tell us a little bit about this piece…
Grotesk: Over the past decade, I’ve doodled hundreds of characters on scrap, loose paper sheets and sketchbook. I drew a lot of little guys protesting, rioting, bombing, etc. A few years ago I gathered a bunch of them and made it into this “Riot” artwork that almost feels like an animated strip with the goal to print it one day. When 1xRUN hit me up to do a collaboration, I felt it was the right time to release this art as the world is in poor social shape with escalating conflicts all around. Riots are often the first raw and brutal way to express exasperation. Historically, people’s uprising and rioting has been the igniting force for major historical changes once the calm comes back after the storm. There is also an appealing aesthetic in the chaotic pictures of riots that have always fascinated me. To take rioters out of the chaos and to isolate them on a black backdrop give them a statuesque look like a classical sculpture.
1x: What materials were used on this piece?
Grotesk: Pen and ink and then the computer to color it.
1x: When was the piece created and how long did it take to complete?
Grotesk: A decade of doodling and a day to execute and color this specific piece.
1x: What is unique about this piece compared with some of your other work?
Grotesk: It’s the piece that gave me a sense that I could animate my character and do some animation.
1x: What is it about this print that you think will resonate with people?
Grotesk: Because it has been in my archive for a while and that many people asked me when I was going to release it.
1x: Describe the piece in one gut reaction word.
1x: When did you first start making art?
Grotesk: When I was about 2 or 3.
1x: What was your first piece?
Grotesk: A plane drawing or a spaceship.
1x: What artists inspired you early on?
Grotesk: My parents, Matisse, the native Indian and Mode 2.
1x: What artists inspire you now?
Grotesk: Cody Hudson, Josh Jefferson, Louise Bourgeois, Todd James, Dick Bruna, Tomi Ungerer, Saul Steinberg, George Condo etc.
1x: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what? If not then what is your environment like when you work?
Grotesk: I listen to Hip Hop, Jazz and soul when I work.
1x: If you could collaborate with any living artist who would it be and why? Any deceased artist?
Grotesk: I would love to work with my close artist friends Cody Hudson and Serge Nidegger on a wall in a nice tropical destination with our families to have the ultimate quality time. I would love to chill with Clader or Picasso and make some sculptures with them.
1x: What was the first piece of art that you bought? Do you still have it? The last?
Grotesk: My first serious purchase was a Greg Lamarche collage in 2000. The last piece that I bought was a Jeff Jefferson collage and a Jill Freedman photo.
1x: How has 2016 been so far for you? What have you been up to?
Grotesk: Busy! A lot of stuff coming up. My next one is a group show in NYC in May.