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Stephen Powers

Born 1968 in Philadelphia (USA),
lives and works in Brooklyn (USA)

In the 1980s, Stephen Powers made a name for himself in the streets under the pseudonym ESPO, meaning Exterior Surface Painting Outreach. From Philadelphia to New York, he painted elaborate tags and bold, highly legible lettering on shutters with chrome and black paint, graffiti’s equivalent of chiaroscuro. When arrested in 1999, the artist wrote a seminal book entitled The Art of Getting Over and began using his own name. He ceased with illegal lettering and became a painter of non-commercial, poetic letterwork. Powers invokes the tradition of handmade signs, which were verging on extinction, to create huge murals and metal pictures featuring crisp letters and drawings that reference life fragments marked by everyday troubles. An urban writer, Stephen Powers takes over the façade of the Fagor factory, deploying his extra-large graphic puns, which evoke absence and memory (echoing the Fagor factory’s past) but also migration-related issues.

Remerciements [acknowledgements]
: SHAMEAK

Stephen Powers, Open Door, 2019. Courtesy de l’artiste, de la Biennale de Lyon 2019 [of the artist, the 2019 Lyon Biennale]. © Adagp, Paris, 2019. Photo : Blaise Adilon