“Late Confessions” is a series of works and installation by New York-based identical twin brothers Raoul and Davide Perre, better known as the street art duo How & Nosm. The pop up show, presented by Jonathan LeVine Gallery, marks the brothers’ debut solo exhibition in New York.
The exhibit consists of murals, sculpture and mixed media rendered solely in black, white and red (the limited palette was originally conceived out of necessity but soon evolved into a How & Nosm signature). Their work fuses highly stylized characters with vibrant, graphic patterns. The result is inter-connected, highly charged narratives that lure the viewer into bizarre micro- universes. "Our pieces make you think. You look and look and you find more images and you try to understand the whole concept," says Davide.
What is most striking upon closer view is the level of intricate detail the twins pour into each of their creations. “Live and Tell” (spray paint, india ink, cel vinyl, collage on canvas) reveals various vignettes depicting sci-fi figures and scenarios from a bio-mechanical matryoshka doll to alchemical bottles spewing red liquid to a character donning a rising sun sombrero – Bosch meets H.R. Giger by way of Japanese anime and graffiti, if you will. But don’t be deceived by the seemingly cheerful quality of the work as a darker undercurrent pulses beneath.
The brothers Perre were raised in Spain in the years following Franco’s dictatorship - a time of political turmoil in which military tanks and gunfire were common sights and sounds. Consequently their early years were marked by chaos and emotional instability. Adding to the heaviness was growing up in a home plagued by alcoholism and poverty. "We kind of had a very disturbed childhood," Raoul explains in a recent interview. "Welfare too, so... I smile a lot and shit but in my paintings I think it is more important to express myself with what most people want to suppress and not show, you know? There's a lot of love stuff, too. Like heartbroken stuff, financial situations - about myself or other people." It’s clear that the brothers’ art serves not only as a visual diary of sorts but also as an ongoing catharsis.
Although the large-scale murals have a powerful impact, the most thought provoking feature of “Late Confessions” is a crimson alcove tucked away in the back of the gallery. Featured on three small walls are a collection of framed stencils and preliminary sketches used during the creative process. Works of art in and of itself, the display serves as another reminder of How & Nosm’s affinity and flair for meticulous detail. And by isolating certain design elements one can quietly appreciate motifs and design elements that appear (or hide) in the rest of the work throughout the exhibit.
Words by Daniel Alonso. Photos via the gallery.