Virgil Abloh stars among pioneers in new mural – WWD
As Drake got a tattoo to pay tribute to Virgil Abloh and other designers have acknowledged his death in different ways, a muralist recognizes the late designer in hopes of inspiring future generations.
Halfway through painting a mural in Miami featuring Abloh, Kyle Holbrook hopes to complete the project within the next week. More than just a picture of Abloh, the artist also imagines an eye and other patterns as a symbol of Abloh’s vision and his role as a visionary. In 2002, Holbrook founded the Moving the Lives of Kids community mural project, a public art project focused on the arts, youth development and education. Over the past two decades, he has painted murals in dozens of countries. Holbrook plans to send an image of the mural to Abloh’s family once it’s completed.
Holbrook said of his latest project: “It’s for Virgil and for something bigger – his life as an inspiration to many.”
Prior to assuming his unprecedented role at Louis Vuitton, Abloh launched Off-White and collaborated on a myriad of projects with other brands. Noting that Abloh’s accomplishments are certainly something to aspire to, Holbrook said, âAs a black artist it is also inspiring to see the possibilities of a career in the arts and to be on top of the world. art. I really like his thoughts, his choice of colors, the spacing, his use of geometric shapes and the arrow. As an artist, I see him just as a genius.
The former artistic director of Louis Vuitton for men is featured among other revolutionary forces such as Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou and August Wilson.
As for those who might not believe that Abloh belongs to such illustrious ranks due to his age or that fashion is not considered part of the arts, Holbrook said he had thought a lot about it. Showcasing Abloh with such visionaries puts the impact he’s had into perspective, Holbrook said. “It was done on purpose to make people think of him in this context,” said the muralist.
Holbrook said Wilson, Angelou and others were pioneers and at the top of their respective fields, in addition to being African American. âIf you put him in that context, he was easily the greatest black fashion designer or artist, in my opinion. He was certainly one of the pioneers. And providing inspiration to other African Americans and black culture is the bond they all have. “
Holbrook uses what he described as “the Rolls Royce of the elevators” – a 65-foot gasoline all-terrain elevator – to paint the mural. Instead of using a video projection on a wall and tracing that image with paint, Holbrook paints everything. âI don’t use projectors. Each artist has their own style and I do not take away the style of anyone. It is basically about tracing when you are [using] a projector, âhe said. âFor me, proportions are part of art. It’s almost like sculpture. It means constantly taking a step back.
The idea is that fans and passers-by will see Abloh’s likeness and visual clues to his thoughts and ideas. Spanning 50 feet tall and 25 feet wide, the mural is located in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami. The mural was commissioned by Louis Wolfson 2nd, founding partner of Pinnacle Housing Group, and his company. The art is located on one of the buildings in Pinnacle.
Louis Vuitton paid homage to Abloh last month with a menswear show and event in Miami. Street artist Alec Monopoly also created an Abloh mural in Miami in November. Earlier this month, a painting by the late designer pop artist Rob Prior, along with an NFT version, sold for $ 1 million.
Having always worked in the arts, Holbrook said fashion was his first love. After majoring in graphic design, he graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. His first clothing line was called Streetology and about four years later he launched KH Designs. Holbrook has designed clothing for men, women and children with unique graphic patterns, hand paint, images and styles.
Launched in 1997, Streetology consisted of clothing printed with neighborhood references like local monuments, sculptures or street names. Holbrook would go to different neighborhoods and sell personalized items in the trunk of his car, usually all at once. âI see fashion and art as part of the arts. All the arts coincide to some extent, âhe said.
After the Streetology team artistically turned in another direction, Holbrook left to start KH Designs. This label was sold through kiosks in shopping malls. Following a slowdown in foot traffic as many mall retailers shift their focus to online sales, Holbrook found itself with too much inventory – around 400 units – in 2013. This difficult year l prompted to focus more on art.
The payment for a large mural – $ 25,000 for a final year project that took two weeks of work – was a factor in venturing further into art. âThere isn’t a lot of money I can make doing something in two weeks, so I was hopeful from there. This led to another mural and another mural. There hasn’t been a time that I haven’t done a mural in 20 years, âsaid Holbrook. “But I really set myself a goal this year, partly because of Virgil’s passing, to make sure I focus on fashion again.”
With 20 years of experience in mural painting, Holbrook has seen how much the interest in them as a medium has changed. When asked how the murals resonate with the public today compared to earlier this year, when some were used powerfully to convey social justice messages after the police murder of George Floyd, Holbrook said said, âI have always used public art as a type of educational tool or inspiration. My mom and dad were both teachers. I certainly use it to be a voice for the voiceless or a voice for some type of message, whether it’s stopping gun violence, raising awareness about domestic violence, or autism.
While social media, especially Instagram, has created an increase in the number of muralists, the art form has been used by many people for greater impact not only after Floyd’s murder, but also to attract attention. Pay attention to the murders of unarmed black men, Holbrook said. âIt might have peaked then. To some extent, people are now used to seeing murals with messages on them. In a way, it can be oversaturated as all murals have the great intention of spreading the messages. But if there are so many, it may be necessary [away] the power of some of the messages.