Geso

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There are a lot of people that claim to do things just for the love, but it is usually these people that are the farthest from it.  The people that are honestly walking that line, aren’t talking about why they are doing anything and don’t need to.  It is apparent in their daily life how vital their need to paint and create really is.  Starting his career in the upswing of the 1990’s San Francisco graff scene, Geso quickly made a name for himself and perfected styles that have become some of the most respected and bitten over the years.  To stay ahead of the curve he has innovated and evolved in ways that have kept his graffiti fresh and inventive.
For these reasons it did not surprise me that I was as excited about the canvases he has been painting lately as I am with his graff.  The balance and use of color in his paintings are mature and well executed.  His work feels like a modern continuation of Rothko or Still or many other great historic abstract works.  But what else could we expect from someone that has always pushed the boundaries and has been such an innovator over the years. —Ronnie Wrest / The Citrus Report

What everyone really wants to know… is what you eat for breakfast?

Coca Cola Classic.

You came up painting in the good old days before instant fame and gratification of the internet. How long have you been painting and what all has changed during your career?

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When I came up you had to make graff a job.  You had to hit major streets with multiple tags and fillins.  I remember tagging on every paper machine on market like 3 tags on each side with mops.  I would go out with tons of mops and paint and not come back until it was all gone.  We use to do like 20 tags on each block and I was a kid coming up with older better writers.  They took me under their wing and taught me the basics and i rolled with it.  You honestly had to go out every night for months at a time and hit good spots that people would talk about and then your name and street cred would spread.  I think I have been painting like 19 years or more and I have seen my share of changes, mostly when the graff mags hit and now the internet wave.  The time and effort is no longer needed to most people when you can build a web site of your name and do 10 peices in all different styles with fancy paint and you get famous.  You can blog your whole career and never do shit.  I know people with big names that have done this shit.  I think its time the people who have been around for years going to jail for graff and pouring tons of their soul into something so pointless should get some fucking credit.  We risk everything just to get that tag up.  When we know it might get buffed the next day.  We wasted our lives to put letters that mean nothing on a train or some surface….

I can’t believe it’s for nothing… You have to enjoy the act of it or seeing that train roll by 2 or 3 or 10 years later?

Its crazy you work all these years to build a name and when you get the fame and everything you wanted it all comes with other bad stuff like people making fake stories up about you and trying to smut your name up so they can get attention.  I guess its cool to see old freights going by.  It brings back memories of a better time.  When they go by you remember the night and what happen and who you were with.  Each one has a secret story behind them that only you know.  People don’t understand what it takes to do the things we do.  I really don’t care about graff and trains like I said its more of what I went through to do it than the finished product.  I hate all of my old stuff so most times I close my eyes when old ones go by….

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What brought about the abstraction in your graffiti a few years back?

I had lots of people nibbling on the previous styles and I feel like my stuff just morphed into what ever it is now.  I didn’t pick a day and say i will change my stuff on that date.  I also felt bored and not challenged.  My style of pieces formed from trying to do a style to cover up nasty graff on toyed out trains… in the dark. That explains the white I like to use and the stretched out letters, I wanted to cover space.

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You started sharing your canvases on flickr a few months back. You obviously did not just start painting them; did something push you to put them out there?

I have been painting art for years i started doing that style when I was 13 in art class and I have sold a bunch to people that didnt know about graff , but liked my art.  I showed a few to some friends and they said that people were probably ready to see them now.  They were saying they would be more acceptable now that everyone likes abstract stuff.  I posted a few unwillingly and 5 sold the first day.  After that I have been posting a few a month and selling them.

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While your canvas work is abstract it is really different from your graffiti in many ways. Do the two have an influence on one another?

I think they are two different passions of mine that stem from two different worlds.  I don’t want to sell graff like I don’t want to draw some graff peice on a canvas and call it art cause its not.  I will do a tag on them sometimes because people want a tag and to sell a painting I sometimes do that.  I want my art to be art, not some stupid graffiti.  I can explain it… I have like 5 different personalities.  One is a graff writer, a fisherman, a criminal, and a family man.  I cant figure it out… oh and a furniture hustler…

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Which one is painting all your canvases?

Its the art fag oh I forgot to mention him.

I see similarities to many different styles of abstraction in your canvases. Have you had influence from Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting?

I don’t look at art man.  I just paint what comes out.  I have no influences in my art work.  I don’t type abstract painting into google and paint the same shit i see.  I just fucking paint.  I am not a college graduate, I cant spell that great, I didn’t go to art school or get a art kit from academy of the arts, ha, it’s just in my blood to be creative no matter what I do.  I’m not very knowledgeable on artists and I’m not some art snob.  I don’t care about it i just do it.  Just like graff, I just do what i see in my mind and i try and take whats floating around at the time and put it on canvas.  I also collect and sell expensive furniture from the mid 20th century.  That may have some effect on my brain when im painting.  I think if your around good stuff you will probably do something cool.  Like hanging with rich people you probably will get rich.  Im influenced by lots of architecture and buildings and interior design… but I’m not gay.

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How did you get into the furniture thing?

About 10 years ago I was driving in Oregon and I saw a cool chair along the side of the road I stopped and grabbed it because I liked the shape.  Then I did some research on it later and found someone famous designed it and I sold it for like a thousand dollars.  After that I started doing it non stop and going hard.  I cant reveal all my secrets to get this stuff but I have like 10 tricks up my sleeve and all of them work sometimes.

Who are a couple artists that influence you?

All Artists & Creators… Milo Baughman, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Hans Wegner, Gio Ponti, Tommi Parzinger, Edward Wormley, Andre Arbus, George Nakashima, Jacques Adnet, Jean-Michel Frank, Maison Jansen, Venini, Mies Van Der Rohe,, George Nelson, Karl Springer, Paul Evans, Eames (Ray and Charles), James Mont, Vladimir Kagan, Paul Frankl, Harry Bertoia, Harvey Probber, Jean Royère, Poul Kjaerholm, Jules Leleu, Tony Duquette, Paul Laszlo, William Haines, Jacques Emile, Ruhlmann, Felix Agostini, Walter Lamb, Edgar Brandt, Carlo Mollino, Gino Sarfatti, Gabriella Crespi, Gilbert Poillerat, Pierre Chareau, Poul Henningsen, Samuel Marx, Maria Pergay, Michel Boyer, Marc Duplantier, Paul Dupre-Lafon, Raymond Subes, Jacques Quinet, Florence Knoll, Eero Saarinen, Ico Parisi, Charlotte Perriand, Tétard Freres, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, Robert Crowder, Antoine Schapira, William Conklin, Le Clerc, William B. Durgin, Warren Platner,  Torbjorn Afdal, James Prestini, Massimo Vignelli, Jacques Martin-Ferrieres, Louis O. Pearson, Eero Saarinen, and Jorge Zalszupin

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You have been painting graffiti for almost 20 years. What do you think has allowed you to have this kind of longevity?

I guess just being consistant and not being afraid to try new stuff when you see people making a trend of something.  I can always switch up to something new or something crazy to try and have an impact again and again.  I stay true to myself and do this for me and for fun.  I don’t care about people and what they think and I’m a fucking nut.  I should have stopped years ago or never started painting at all.  Its just honestly out of stupidity.  Anyone with brains would never paint graff for this long for no return..fuck it though… its to late now.

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Will we get to see any of your canvases in a gallery anytime soon?

When I was only 16 I think I had like 3 art shows under my belt already. After that I went on a wild ride and now I’m back doing art hard now, so I hope some galleries will holler at me and understand who I am and what im trying to do and what I have done already.  I’m selling my art, so I know a professional can do a way better job… I just wont hang out with idiots and kiss ass to get an art show.  I’m not going to beg, but I think I deserve it and all my friends are famous off of this.  I’m the only one that never sold out.  Theres some really bad art in galleries because they kiss peoples asses and use everyone to get art shows just to be a artist.  I know who I am so I don’t care what happens… I leave it in your hands.

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So are these paintings going to be something you will be focusing most of your energy on right now?

I’m painting a ton lately but have been painting art sence I was 13 years old, so I’m not new to the art game and I have been around art and artists my entire life.  My mom designs fabrics and is an interior designer.  My grandma is a oil painter, my cousin Tyler does lithos and teaches art.  I grew up with people like Barry Mcgee, Josh Lazcano, Rem, Margret rip, Sam Flores, Sope rip, Felon, Jase, Dave Schubert, Grey pvc, etc…  I had art shows when i was like 16 but I was to young to capitalize on art.  I didn’t know shit and I thought art was gay and I was selling out.  I still think I’m selling out but I guess theres a time for everything.  I may have waited to long and I have missed the curve I think, but maybe it will be my time now.  I sit here waiting for a bone to be thrown at me but it dosnt happen so I have to paint alot and take it into my own hands and do stuff for my self but use my connections and friends I have made over they years…..”time will tell”…

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From The Citrus Report

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