Felix Gephart
Draftsman, painter and graffiti artist

I started drawing on papers and spraying on walls quite early. Especially the latter drew me under its spell. At first there were almost exclusively letters, a pseudonym in ever new variations and color combinations, classic graffiti writing influenced by American graff heroes and also by the role model of my older brother, who had finally turned to writing after BMX and skateboarding. At the age of 12, I was probably one of the youngest sprayers in my hometown of Bochum. Later, writing was joined by scenes that told a story, followed by drawings and paintings that conveyed literary, sometimes satirical and political content. What I had painted before I had learned from older and experienced graffiti writers and by teaching myself.  lernte ich von älteren und erfahrenen Graffitiwritern und brachte ich mir selbst bei.

I first studied graphic design in Dortmund. Then, with the help of a Fulbright and Special Presidential Grant, I graduated with a Master's degree in Illustration as Visual Essay from the New York School of Visual Arts. What followed were narrative graffiti based on literary texts, illustrations for newspapers, magazines and books, and exhibitions of my original work in New York, Berlin, Cologne and Bochum. It may be rather untypical for contemporary illustration that drawings and paintings are almost without exception analog and quite large. The images add new and unfamiliar perspectives to an existing text, highlight previously less noticed but all the more meaningful moments and episodes and, by means of color, light and shadow and the chosen perspective, scenery and technique, make even a well-known literary template appear in a new light.

Among the many mostly large-format works on paper are brush drawings of George Orwell's highly topical surveillance dystopia "1984," black-and-white ink paintings of Dalton Trumbo's anti-war classic "Johnny got his gun," and meticulous rapidograph hatchings and layers of colored pencil that, together with sprayed ink, provide deep insights into the soul of Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho."

In my "Low Life" series, I depict an almost forgotten New York with partly luminous color planes and pulsating color silhouettes that stylistically hark back to my on location New York marker drawings of 2007 and 2008. Images of legendary gang feuds and the draft riots of a New York during the Civil War for my book "Wicked New York“, on the other hand, emerge from dark, smoke-like spray, attain contour through sharp-edged black and white, and finally spatial depth through fine hatching with varnish and acrylic. The dense pictorial atmosphere here seems like the result of an unusual mixture of various old printing techniques that oscillate between woodcut, drypoint, aquatint and mezzotint.

My series of paintings are quite diverse, both in terms of style and the technique in which I work within a particular thematic context. Each textual reference and the questions it raises, as well as what my historical research and personal experience unearths on the occasion of a new pictorial theme, call for a different, new graphic response.