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Arts & Culture

Live art smackdown at Artslam 7 with Buff Monster, Lamour Supreme, and Japanther

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Birth of a Zombie, by Buff Monster

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Scorpio Mishka, by Lamour Supreme

He's definitely one of my favorite artists. His art is amazing, but as far as me being inspired by it, it's not so much the imagery — I really admire the empire he's built. It's incredible.

You've done a lot of street posters, and are now doing toys, and gallery work, too. How does the high/low dynamic work?

I discovered that the more street stuff I did, the more galleries wanted to work with me. For instance, populism is a big part of Superflat. In Murakami's world, a million- dollar sculpture is the same figure as a two-dollar toy that you buy at 7-11.

What new things are you working on?

My last show was heavily inspired by Renaissance paintings. I just love them.

You seem to have a collision between flat, graphic technique, and using traditional depth illusions, landscapes, in the same works.

There's not a clear line between Renaissance paintings and Garbage Pail Kids. For me it sort of works; keeps it cartoony.

You're playing with historical allegories, right? What about At The Crossroads?

That one is based on the convention in the many paintings of "Hercules at the Crossroads," where there are two women, usually with one on the left with mountains in the background to show that choosing a path of virtue is difficult, and another woman on the right, scantily clad, with an idyllic background to show that the path of sin and lust is the easy way. But I reversed that to serve my own purpose. The rest of the ones are based on Christian mythology from the Renaissance, but I'm flipping in my own narratives.

Are people buying into you as a neo-classicist?

Well that's the thing. I think most people who look at my work aren't familiar with the original paintings, aren't aware of what I'm referencing. Which is fine with me. If they do, I think they feel a bit differently. But if you don't know the source of the tale, that's OK, too. But those conventions are tried and true; they're awesome. It's been fun. But my big inspiration is heavy metal music, which might seem kind of odd, given that everything is sort of sweet and cute. I listen to a lot of Black Metal, which is obviously very anti-Christian. But when I was asked to do a painting of the crucifixion for a show — that was awesome.


Based in NYC's Lower East Side, Lamour Supreme grew up in the Bronx during the mid-'80s graffiti and hip-hop era, studied art in college, and then practiced architectural design on Long Island before turning his art practice into a day job. The Current asked Lamour what the New York graffiti scene was like back in the day.

Lamour Supreme: I ran with a smallcrew. I remember a big one, the dominant one in the area I was growing up in. Some of the kids in my crew wanted to join them, but I was like, 'We don't have to join them, we have our own clique here." But these kids got a meeting with the other crew, and thought they were going to get initiated or hooked up. But they ended up just getting beat up. Graffiti crews always have this drama around them, but I never got it, I was never part of that. Somebody goes over your work — so what? Don't harp on it — just go on. It was back during the days when trains were still paintable, and the yard in the Bronx was pretty accessible. But they would usually have dogs and undercover detectives there — these guys were pretty fit, so they could run. When they would catch you in the train yard, they would basically beat you within inches of death, and leave you on the sidewalk. So, when you went in there, you were basically risking life and limb.

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