Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rising Star: Vandal Expressionism Creator, Joseph Meloy

Inspired by the Abstract Expressionists of the 1940s and 50s, as well as the 80s graffiti he encountered as a kid growing up on NYC's LES ("In grade school I was obsessed with Cost and Revs,"); the posters he'd tear down as a Bronx Science teen in the 90s artist Joseph Meloy coined Vandal Expressionism, his understanding of defacement and re-appropriation as a hieroglyphic and often cryptic language "of scribbles." 

"Tic-Tac-Toe Paskettios" ©2011 Joseph Meloy

"Being in the 90s on the Lower East Side, I always had my eye on something in the street. I was 16, 17, doing my thing, and graffiti or posters or even just the natural habitat of life in the street would catch my eye," explains Meloy (cue soundtrack to the movie The Wackness. Amidst the angst teens growing up in NYC's odd transition from 80s grittiness to 90s sanitation, Meloy was still attracted to the dopeness. 

"Back then," he says, "I didn't exactly know the meaning of everything I saw, I just knew I wanted something to do with it. I didn't just want to collect these posters, stickers, and shit, I wanted to make them."

Vandal Expressionist, Joseph Meloy, photo courtesy of 
A decade later, he favors “l' écriture automatique” — a Surrealist technique that's "not as pretentious as it sounds." Meloy's work is automatic and highly associative — including Biblical, historical, political, as well as pop signifiers. "When I consider the element of 'pop' in Vandal Expressionism, it's more of a sensibility of wanting to make art as a commodity that appeals to a wider swath of the population. All that l' écriture automatique stuff just means I use a loose unconscious method to conjure up my line-work and subject matter." He shows me. We're packed in tight at the bar in Epstein's, but he picks up a pen and snatches my Moleskine. "See?"

"Cosmo"  ©2011 Joseph Meloy

"Untitled (Gorilla Face)" ©2011 Joseph Meloy
He hands me back my notebook and says, "You don't mind right? I mean things that are used, destroyed, scratched or scribbled on make up a language of their own."


"Invasion" ©2011 Joseph Meloy

He's one of those dudes that takes his shit really seriously in an earnest more than hispster kind of way. He's even got a manifesto: i.e. 

Vandal Expressionism is intrigued by toying with sense of scale.

Vandal Expressionism lets the seams show.

"My paintings are only so big because my apartment is only so big. I need space. I could make my paintings huge if I had more space."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 8-11 PM
Le Salon D'Art 90 Stanton Street, NYC
Art and paraphernalia for sale. 10% of proceeds from art sale directly benefits Japanese Tsunami Relief Fund.

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