After Two Years in the Motor City, California Street Artist Revok Returns to Downtown L.A.
Revok. Courtesy Library Street Collective.

Revok. Courtesy Library Street Collective.

Relocating to the west coast signaled a return to his Californian roots: the contemporary artist and graffiti writer was born as Jason Williams in Riverside in 1977. His work is, at least in part, a product of the place. Revok reportedly found early inspiration in comic books, skateboarding culture, his father’s ’60s and ’70s record collection, and the region’s burgeoning graffiti scene. Later, as one of L.A.’s most prominent street artists, Revok exhibited work at MOCA and the Pasadena Museum of Contemporary Art. He also got caught up in the battle against city officials attempting to regulate graffiti and street art—what could be more downtown L.A. than that?

nstallation view of “REVOK: LOS ANGELES EXHIBITION.” Courtesy Library Street Collective and the artist. Photography by Angela Wisniewski.

nstallation view of “REVOK: LOS ANGELES EXHIBITION.” Courtesy Library Street Collective and the artist. Photography by Angela Wisniewski.

Yet Revok jumped on the opportunity to live and work in another American street art capital for a time. In Detroit, he worked with found materials salvaged from the abandoned houses and buildings of the city’s most down-and-out neighborhoods, crafting imposing 3D sculptures and building a closer professional relationship with Detroit’s pioneering Library Street Collective.

Installation view of “REVOK: LOS ANGELES EXHIBITION.” Courtesy Library Street Collective and the artist. Photography by Jon Lake.

Installation view of “REVOK: LOS ANGELES EXHIBITION.” Courtesy Library Street Collective and the artist. Photography by Jon Lake.

It’s unsurprising, then, to know that the artist and gallery remained closely linked even after Revok returned to Los Angeles in 2013 and changed direction with his work, shifting his conceptual focus to the intersection between technology and human life. Library Street Collective is the force behind his new exhibition of large-scale hand-painted wood assemblages. The pieces are covered in vibrant geometric patterns that appear, at first, to be computer-generated. But as the gallery’s director, JJ Curis, points out, “upon close inspection, the artist’s hand is revealed through flaws and imperfections… this is the creation from a man’s hands and consciousness and not that of a machine.”

Installation view of “REVOK: LOS ANGELES EXHIBITION.” Courtesy Library Street Collective and the artist. Photography by Jon Lake.

Installation view of “REVOK: LOS ANGELES EXHIBITION.” Courtesy Library Street Collective and the artist. Photography by Jon Lake.

Indeed, a walk through Revok’s self-titled exhibition, on view at a temporary gallery space at 1242 Palmetto Street in downtown Los Angeles, evokes the colorful spirit of coastal California, while the artist’s almost machine-like precision hints at his youthful predilection for comic books and album cover design. Welcome back to the west coast, Revok.

—Bridget Gleeson


REVOK: LOS ANGELES EXHIBITION” is on view at Library Street Collective’s pop-up space at 1242 Palmetto St., Los Angeles, Apr. 10–19, 2015. 

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