For more photos, see “How and Nosm in L.A.”
Raoul and Davide Perre, otherwise known as artists How and Nosm, are identical German twins that yes, speak their own graf language and even finish each others sentences.
To mark their first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, opening Oct 15 at Known Gallery on Fairfax, How and Nosm have just completed a new piece titled, Heartship, a 160' x 60' mural on Traction Avenue downtown. It was their second outstanding wall in that neighborhood in less than a year. The first was done in April, about the time MOCAs Art in the Streets exhibit opened.
Members of the East Coast graffiti collective Tats Cru, How and Nosm mastered the traditional, colorful wild style letter forms popular in the 70s and 80s and are considered pioneers of the New York style in Europe–helped only by early photocopies of American magazines and the seminal book Subway Art. Recently, they developed a signature, three-color technique. They cite Crash, Daze, Futura, Lee and Dondi as obvious aerosol-wielding influences, But the brothers' masterful, intricate compositions also echo more traditional contemporary masters Picasso and Escher, which translates easily into art for a gallery setting, exciting fans and collectors alike.
“We were doing huge productions, and later got bored of doing it so many years,” Raoul says. “We've been doing graffiti 23 years and just got tired of writing our names. We started experimenting and traveling a lot.”
How and Nosm's time spent in Latin American countries, is evident in their choice of themes–hearts, hands, exaggerated faces, skulls and flowers–images that serve as common cultural references. However, the style didn't always go over well. “You're a bit more restricted when you're doing Graffiti in New York,” Raoul says. “Once you try to do something that's not classic New York style, everybody goes 'ew, what's this?'”
The artists also have a pragmatic reason for their black, white and red color scheme. It saves muscle and money for paint. “Traveling in a lot of countries, Central America, South America, or Asia, quality paint from Spain and Germany gets imported, so sometimes you have pay $9 a can,” says Davide. “Fuck it. And not having a car to carry a hundred different colors for a wall–we went against the trend.”
How and Nosm rival the other superstar art brothers, the Brazilian OsGemeos, identical twins who are also prolific, influential mural makers. Exceptional talent runs in pairs in each case.
Is it easier to work together having a built-in painting partner? “We both come up with the ideas and mix them up,” Davide says. “There's no ego. Sometimes we do his drawings, sometimes mine. Sometimes we mix them together. We're always a team. Sometimes one is more motivated than the other and then we kick each others' asses. It works.”
The stereotypical German work ethic seems to ring true with these guys, as they are quite possibly the only grafitti artists with a very serious goal of making at least 100 murals a year. “We say, 'This year, we need to do a hundred subways, 30-40 paintings, and a hundred walls,'” Raoul says. “Sometimes we do more, sometimes we do less – if you say you don't make it, let's say you only did 90 walls, at least you did 90.”
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