Known for his site-specific wood cut-outs, New Jersey street artist Joe Iurato has produced countless outdoor artworks in various settings. Iurato has worked on projects with major brands such as the NFL, the NBA, GQ Magazine, Sprite, Adidas, ESPN, and Paramount Pictures.Read More
Iurato grew up in the 1980s, embracing the skateboarding and B-Boy subcultures of the time, which exposed him to a world of urban art mediums and styles. After three years of art school at Montclair State University, Iurato quit to study wine instead.
Drawing and painting for personal enjoyment from a young age, it was only in the mid-2000s that Iurato began to make art publicly. Working for Urban Climber magazine in Soho, Iurato came across stencil art by Banksy and Shepard Fairey around the neighbourhood, which inspired him to start secretly putting up his own small stencil works during lunch breaks.
Painted with aerosol and multi-layered stencils, Joe Iurato's murals and cut-outs are rendered in a clean illustrative aesthetic that is photo-realistic in its descriptive detail. His outdoor works directly engage with their urban settings and the artist's everyday experiences.
For years, Iurato has been stencilling his own particular style of street art on walls across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Inspired by his everyday experiences, particularly as a father, many of his large- and small-scale murals feature children in the midst of play or sometimes sulking.
In 2011, Iurato created a stencilled work on a gate for Brooklyn's the Bushwick Collective. The mural depicts a child spray painting the phrase 'Never Let Go' onto the pavement in front of the artwork, which Iurato himself has spray painted onto the sidewalk. Such an environmental interaction is typical of his work.
Iurato works from photographs cut to make layers of stencils, which he then applies to his chosen surface. Colour is sometimes deployed to accentuate emphasis in one place while the picture itself is often largely black and white. Sometimes, his murals depict only the figures in black and white, while the background is rendered in colour.
In the late 2000s, Joe Iurato also began making miniature cut-outs of stencil-painted figures on wood and, more recently, on metal. It began with 'The Climbers Series', where the artist made cut-outs of his climbing hero John Bachar and placed them across New Jersey, where they appeared to be climbing up street signs or along cracks in brickwork.
Typically painted in a nostalgia-inducing black and white, the subjects of Iurato's cutouts have increasingly become more diverse; they include children playing, homeless people, roving musicians, skaters, fisherman in their boats, and much more, all interacting with their settings to tell a story.
Placing and photographing his figures in specific urban settings, Iurato draws attention to the smaller details of our environment. His photographs utilise a viewpoint that manipulates and confounds the viewer's perception of scale and the environment. Puddles become giant lakes, and a crack in the cement becomes a grand climb or a perilous ravine. 'I try to see the possibilities for a larger picture within a smaller space,' the artist has said.
While remaining dedicated to making art in public space, Iurato has also begun to make assemblages and prints for the gallery space. These include cut-out and reclaimed wood assemblages like the series 'Anotherworld', 'Configured', 'The Run Down' (all 2021), and Manic Progression (2017), as well as more conventional works on paper like 'Drippin' Dots' (2020).
Iurato has participated extensively in public art projects throughout his career. He has regularly featured in Jeffrey Deitch and Goldman Properties' annual Wynwood Walls project and, in 2020, he undertook community-based mural projects in Troy, New York State and Deep Ellum, Dallas. For Iurato's Superbowl commission in 2020, funded by the NFL, the artist made artworks based on ten key moments in NFL history, which he scattered throughout Miami.
As well as participating in numerous street art festivals, Joe Iurato has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions internationally.
Solo exhibitions include Cabin Fever, Taglialatella Gallery, New York (2021); Bottles and Cans, Castle Fitzjohns Gallery, New York (2018); Everything But the Whole Story, Station16 Gallery, Montreal (2015); Fall and Rise, Art Whino Gallery, Washington, D.C. (2010).
Group exhibitions include Out In The Open, Kirk Gallery, Aalborg (2021); Spotlight Stencil, Hashimoto Contemporary, New York (2019); In Layers, COLAB Gallery, Weil am Rhein (2017); Cut it Out, Urban Nation Gallery, Berlin (2015); Concrete Paradise: Miami Marine Stadium, Coral Gables Museum, Miami (2014); The Future Is Now, No Agenda, Ad Hoc Art and Melissa McCaig-Welles, Highline Loft, New York (2013); Art of Basketball, POP International Galleries, New York (2012); Stencil Only, ATM Gallery, Berlin (2010).
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2022