Miami Artist Typoe Talks About His New Series of Sculptures, Now Available on Artnet’s Buy Now Platform
Typoe Gran takes a page from Friedrich Fröbel’s book. The Miami-based artist has long drawn inspiration from the inventor of kindergarten and building blocks, creating larger-than-life sculptures and murals that remind us of the importance of play and experimentation.
Typoe, which recently made news for its major artistic contribution to the pop district of the Andy Warhol Museum, has been creating its own lexicon of building blocks for several years. Its visual language extends far beyond the cubes, spheres, and arches introduced by Fröbel in the 1830s, to flowers, hands, skulls, blooddrops, and crows, all of which have meaning. unique symbolism.
Selling Features Buy Now from Artnet By the grace of God, a collection of all-new balanced sculpts, each with a unique color element. We sat down with Typoe to find out more about the inspiration behind this title, the process behind the works, and where he sees his visual language heading in the future.
Read on to find out more and take home one of Typoe’s sculptures, available for immediate purchase until August 16th.
When did you realize you wanted to create art? Is this something that has always interested you or did it come to you later?
My mother is an artist, my older sister is an artist, and my great-aunt carved marble sculptures using a chisel and a hammer. I grew up around a lot of creative female artists. My parents also collect art, so I have always been surrounded by them.
I’ve been doing things since I could crawl, always building intuitively. The first sculpture I ever made was created by taking two teddy bears, cutting them in half, and putting them together to form a new bear. I remember thinking it was interesting to bring the two different concepts together.
My parents kept most of my artwork from my childhood, so they have my drawings, my stories, and my clay sculptures – everything. I can look back and see a lot of similarities from then and now, even in terms of content. Some of them were bright and fun, but a lot of them were really dark for a kid.
Can you tell us more about your forms of life and Matrix form series? How were you first inspired by Friedrich Fröbel’s building blocks?
The inspiration behind the blocks came to me about six years ago, when I was reflecting on the state of our world: everyone was fighting, and everything seemed so polarized. Humans have been around for thousands of years, yet we don’t know how to communicate.
I wondered how we had come to this. So, I started thinking about childhood psychology, and that’s where I came across Friedrich Fröbel, who created building blocks for kindergartens and children. I was fascinated. And that got me thinking about kindergarten “rules,” like: be nice to everyone, don’t take anything that isn’t yours, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say nothing at all. These are such basic rules of life that adults do not respect them!
But as adults, we can always play, learn and change. A lot of people say it’s too late, but I disagree with that. I created Forms of life using massive, larger-than-life blocks, because I wanted adults to feel like kids again.
Although these works mimic building blocks, the shapes extend far beyond traditional cubes and rectangles. Can you tell me about the symbolism behind these shapes and how you chose them?
I started with the basic building block shapes, like triangles, rectangles, squares, and arches. But I thought it would be fun to create my own shapes and icons. I started researching and looking at the world around me and my own interests. At the time, I was reading a lot of Edgar Allan Poe, and that’s where the crow comes from, as a beautiful icon of the afterlife. The drop of blood, to me, signifies a unifying form – a reminder that in some ways we are all the same.
Every two months I try to bring in a new shape. I hope to create a Rolodex of shapes that will serve as a visual language in its own right that I can use to build a whole new universe.
Your current collection, available on Artnet’s Buy Now platform, is titled By the grace of God. What is the meaning behind this title?
I started with Alcoholics Anonymous when I was 16 and have been sober for 18 years. And every time I showed up at AA and said I was sober, someone would come up to me and say, “By the grace of God.”
I’m not religious at all, but that phrase stuck in my head as a reflection of life and fragility, of trying to connect and rebuild. And the images in the room reflect this theme. Michelangelo’s hand from The Creation of Adam barely balances on his finger, while the circle hangs over the edge. Every object is in a state of perpetual equilibrium.
Life is like that most of the time – a little moment can change everything.
Can you explain the technical process behind the creation of these sculptures?
There is a balance in everything I do, an exploration of light and dark, positive and negative, which extends into my materials. These sculptures are made of walnut, which is my favorite wood. There’s something so natural about it, but at the same time, it’s been precision cut and crafted to perfection.
Each block is balanced in such a way that a small change could impact the whole sculpt. The circle on top is suspended by a small shard of metal. It’s an incredible feat of engineering. My team had to sit down and figure out how to effectively defy gravity. Each coin in the series has a color block. I used an automotive finish, which was painted, then sanded several times. It’s a constant six coat finish, and it gives a nice shiny finish.
I love that each piece has a thoughtful burst of color to tie them together. I consider these works to be a collection, not an edition, as each is handmade and colored differently.
You have participated in several public art installations and murals, from the Andy Warhol Museum to an installation at the MiamiCentral Brightline station. Why is public art so important to you?
Community is so important to me, and I want my art to speak to everyone, whether it’s someone driving to work or walking down the street. Often my audience is made up of homeless people or people running errands. I create art for everyday people, and their energy is what fuels my work.
Working with the Warhol Museum has been a lot of fun because the mural is part of the institution, but it’s also public. I like stimulating spaces, like stairs and elevators – or in this case, an alley on the side of the museum. At one point it was uninviting, cold and poorly lit. Now we have created a space where people can gather, hang out and take pictures.
Tell me about Primary, your gallery in Miami. What was the inspiration behind the space? What projects are you most passionate about right now?
My partners Cristina Gonzalez and Books Bischof and I started Primary in 2007, and it started as a public art project in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. The goal was to bring murals to Miami. The gallery opened in 2010. We wanted to have our own space because while I love public art, if you don’t own the building, you don’t control anything. We wanted this freedom to have fun, to create and bring in new artists. At the moment, we are collaborating with Jeffrey Deitch, organizing a number of public works at the Miami World Center.
We want to bring different voices to different communities in a responsible way. We know a lot of people use public art as a gentrifier. It’s important to us to have the right creative and critical conversations when creating art in a new space.
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