Victor Ash

„The big jump“ by Victor Ash

New mural by Victor Ash, linked to Berlin since more than 30 years

The Hotel Oderberger Berlin has a new mural in the yard since a couple of days, next to the one by Various&Gould. „The big jump“ by Portuguese-French artist Victor Ash shows the black and white silhouette of a man jumping from the exterior glass elevator architecture in a motion sequence, doing a somersault, before impacting in water painted at the ground of the wall. Knowing the Hotel has a swimming pool, and seeing this wall with this architectural element, the artist had the idea of this site-specific playful image with a deeper meaning. Living in a problematic world with climate changes and injustices, Ash wants to encourage with this image to plunge in, to have the courage to act, to do something for change, to jump in cold water, as Germans say. Initiated by Guillaume Trotin from the former Open Walls Gallery in Berlin with the direction of the Hotel in 2018, Ash finally paints his mural at the former Stadtbad built in 1898, Hotel Oderberger since 2016, after some construction work one year later. It is one of his purest and most reduced to the essentials mural until now. Simple, but to the point, poetic and beautiful.

Victor Ash, The big jump, 2019, Hotel Oderberger©Victor Ash

Victor Ash is living in Copenhagen and has a long relationship with the city of Berlin. He is the artist who realized most murals in town: 5 by now!

Born in 1968 in Portugal and raised in Paris, he came to Berlin already in 1987 with his graffiti writers friends from the first writer generation, the BBC crew, to paint on the Berlin wall. In the 90ies he loved to come painting and partying in the infinitely alternative spaces. In 1991, he had already his first shows in Berlin at Schering Kunstverein, Lebendiges Museum, and at the Gallery Exhibit and the Galerie Gleditsch, which was the first gallery to represent graffiti writers. Eleven years later, in 2002, he showed at Transition Gallery. Mediated by curator Adrian Nabi at that time, Ash participates at Nabis legendary exhibition series at Kunstraum Kreuzberg: the first exhibition Backjumps-The Live Issue in 2003, as well as the second in 2005 and the third in 2007, when he realized his famous „Astronaut/Cosmonaut“ in Kreuzberg. As a symbol of the cold war, this art work became a real symbol for Kreuzberg and urban art/neo-muralism in Berlin. In 2008, Ash won a competition initiated by Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain to paint the wall „Falling Graffiti Writers and trees“ at Scharnweberstraße 59. Falling graffiti writers are coloring the city, dominating nature (tree). One year later, in 2009, Ash was commissioned by Verdi to paint a temporary symbolic „Human Pyramid“ for the struggle for the minimum wage and participated again at Backjumps Live Issue. For a mural in Wedding, he was commissioned by Jochen Küpper from Riot Arts for Wedding Walls in 2011, and painted the „Tree Children“, representing children sitting in a tree observing us with binoculars. In times of debates about permanent monitoring, he created a symbol of our future generations and the nature with the message to take care of our future. During this work, he also exhibited in Wedding at the Panke Gallery. In 2015, Victor Ash took part of the last Backjumps Live Issue 20+1 until today and painted the indoor walls of the long hall at Kunstquartier Bethanien with his work „May the roof over your head be always strong“. The contemporary art gallery Eigen&Art invited Ash for a group show in 2016. And in 2017 – ten years after he painted the „Astronaut/Cosmonaut“ – he had a solo show at Urban Spree Gallery, presenting a new print of a moon and a mixed-media series on paper of the iconic „Astronaut/Cosmonaut“ in different colors.

Victor Ash, Astronaut/Cosmonaut, 2007, for Backumps Live Issue#3, Berlin-Kreuzberg
©Victor Ash
Victor Ash, Falling Graffiti Writers and trees, 2008, Scharnweberstraße 59©Victor Ash
Victor Ash, Human Pyramid, 2009, for Verdi Schiffbauerdamm©Victor Ash

Victor Ash is known for his reduced paintings, mostly bi-or tricolored. He wants to simplify the forms of his motives, humans, animals, natural elements or objects, refine them to create a graphical image like a logo, easy to understand and to remember. And he loves to work fast. Inspired by protest art from May 68 and later, stencils, simple images and slogans, he is searching for efficient and concise image forms again and again. With his raw stencil style painted by hand and his use of silhouettes, he wants to point out at certain things in our society and questions the present state of things by the choice of his motives. 

Victor Ash, Tree Children, 2011, for Wedding Walls, Wedding©Victor Ash

For his art in urban space, he always takes the architecture and district in consideration before developing his idea and wants to add a visual identity to the environment, with images that the people can identify with or easily internalize. 

Victor Ash, May the roof over your head be always strong, 2015, for Backjumps Live Issue 20+1, Kunstraum Kreuzberg©Victor Ash 

Victor Ash is an important pioneer figure of the urban art scene. About spongy definitions and inadequate used terms in that „art sphere“ nowadays, he says that urban art is not a movement, because an art movement is not defined by the use of media or techniques (spray can) or by subsurface (wall). Victor Ash is neither an urban artist nor a street artist, but a visual artist from the post-graffiti era, because his art school was indeed graffiti writing, mainly located by its nature in urban space.

Text by Katia Hermann

Victor Ash, detail of The big jump, 2019, Hotel Oderberger©Victor Ash

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