Published January, 2019
ensō - in Zen, a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create.
One of the first galleries to exhibit street art, Nelly Duff is a small, quirky and atmospheric space located in London’s East End. It’s an area known for its gritty, urban edge and graffiti-covered brick walls and alleyways.
Since it was established in 2005, the gallery has supported and collaborated with various artists from the street, tattoo and graphic art world, offering a more experimental approach than a regular high street gallery.
In the first week of November, Nelly Duff hosted an exhibition of the latest collection of works of Xenz, one of London’s leading street artists, and a true pioneer in his field. Often drawing inspiration from the natural world, the artist combines the well-established and easily recognisable motives of graffiti writing with a delicate, almost fine art-like approach on canvas, creating unique and dreamy patterns.
Presenting a completely new format of Xenz’s artworks, ‘xEnso’ is a collection that incorporates the ancient art of Ensō, an element in Zen symbolising enlightenment, strength and vitality. In his paintings, the artist not only brings these elements together through intricate and vivid details and colours, but creates the artworks themselves in a distinctive circle shape, easily recognisable and aesthetically pleasing.
Although he started as a graffiti artist in his hometown in Yorkshire, at the impressionable age of 14, Xenz has taken in his most recent works a more sophisticated, delicate approach. Abandoning the edgy, urban feel in favour of a multi-layered, detailed and yet simplistic landscapes and more accessible pieces.
Despite the debate of whether street art put between the four walls of a gallery is not merely a commercial model created for profit, in their essence Xenz’s works remain an integral part of the urban landscape.
Originally appeared in FRAMED. magazine