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Twist and his Buddy System

Works of McGee at the Deitch Projects, courtesy Deitch Projects and the artist

Spraying colors on walls in San Francisco since the 1980s, made Barry McGee one of the most reverenced graffiti-urban artists of this new century (and past one). Born in California in 1966, McGee grew up as many young Californians listening to punk-rock music, skateboarding and of course tagging the streets and walls with his tag, bombs and throw-ups. But where many failed and remained in anonymity, McGee stood tall and gained fame though his style, technique and imagination.
With background and formation acquired in the San Francisco Art Institute, Barry McGee, a.k.a. Twist, has gained reputation from the streets and as a shooting star expanded it too art houses, galleries and museums. Refusing at first the so called “art world” attention McGee gained the position as Cult-Hero. After years of being idolized in the streets now he can be found in galleries and inner walls of museums and art spaces all around the world. With shows at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the UCLA/Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the East London's Modern Art Inc gallery in London, the Fondazione Prada in Milan, and Biennales as Liverpool and Venice, just to name a few solo and collective shows, have consolidated McGee’s career as one of the maximum figures of modern urban art.

Another work of McGee at the Deitch Projects, courtesy Deitch Project and the artist

With growing attention of publishers, design and art books from all over the world have dedicates pages to McGee. The eyes of the “art world” must be over the future work of McGee. With a style originated in the streets of San Francisco and an irreverent way of portraying men as decadent and weak figures, Barry McGee has gone from Cult figure to grown and mature artist with a style that won’t be forgotten in any time soon.
The work of McGee, in his own words, represent “the overload of the senses that one might feel walking down the street of any one of our fine American cities. … urban ills, over stimulations, frustrations, addictions, and trying to maintain a level head under the constant bombardment of advertising.” Every installation, every piece of work shows the human weakness, fragility and decadence in a splendid and original style. The McGee figures are a common denominator in his shows and during January 2004 one can find his art at the Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA (U.S.)
"I always like that quality of it—the artist actually being there in the space. You could see someone's show, and then it could be in Berlin the next month and it's the same show, but the artist may have never even been there. But I like that personal touch where it's a lot like graffiti."—Barry McGee (and that’s how he works).

Text: Guillermo Rivero
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