With a career approaching its 30th anniversary, Shepard Fairey (interviewed) has just opened a new exhibition titled Force Majeure at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (organized with RUArts Foundation, curated by MMOMA and Wunderkammern Gallery with the collaboration of Artmossphere).
The exhibition is an historical overview of his career to date, showcasing the evolution of his body of work spanning three decades – from politics, commercial messaging, subversion, social constructs, environment, to war and peace – but also showcases many of Fairey’s artworks reflecting the profound influence of Russian avant-garde on his style.
“Force Majeure” meaning “superior force” was chosen as the title because it suggests an extraordinary event beyond control such as a war, riot, crime, and natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, or volcanic eruptions. The Los Angeles-based artist further explains – “The world is a turbulent and unpredictable place so as an artist addressing social and political issues in the moment I respond to force majeure events as they unfold, often in hopes that a moment of disruption commanding attention provides an opportunity for a powerful artistic statement. My art is inspired by the rich history of art and design with my aim being to capture what is universal and timeless while also potent in an urgent moment of crisis and need.”
The artist intentionally selected the French version of the term “force majeure” because French is recognized globally as the international language of diplomacy. Diplomacy is indeed needed for an exhibition by an American artist, hosted by a Russian public museum and curated by an Italian gallery with a German name. Fairey’s body of works have always spoken a universal visual language and this exhibition is a call to a social and political responsibility that engages with the public at large, in line with (or batter, obeying!) his public art principles. Whether in a complex political decision or our everyday environmental efforts, we shall strive to remain on the higher ground. Force Majeure becomes a call to all of us, a synthesis of the artist’s manifesto.