Mr. Brainwash is the moniker of Street Pop artist Thierry Guetta. Born in France and based in Los Angeles, Mr. Brainwash has been pushing pop culture’s envelope for almost a decade, bringing his art to the street, the gallery, and onscreen.
Armed with wheat paste, spray cans, brushes and paint buckets, Mr. Brainwash started attacking the streets in 2006 with stencils and posters of beloved icons from Billie Holiday to John Lennon. In Paris and Los Angeles, his work quickly caught the eyes of the public and Mr. Brainwash had emerged from the underground, quickly becoming a renowned figure in the burgeoning street art scene.
Mr. Brainwash’s first solo show, Life is Beautiful, opened in the summer of 2008. Mounted in a former T.V. studio in Hollywood, it was the perfect place for the arrival of the art scene’s rambunctious new player. The show was so eagerly anticipated that it garnered the cover of LA Weekly, one of Los Angeles’ most circulated publications. Life is Beautiful opened with a tremendous thunder, attracting thousands of people who lined the streets around the block. Featuring a 20-foot robot, a pyramid made of 20,000 books and a life-size recreation of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” Life is Beautiful was an extremely successful debut. The show extended for three months, attracting a total of 50,000 visitors, and went on to become one of the most memorable solo shows in LA’s Art history. This was just the beginning.
Mr. Brainwash’s signature style was soon garnering the attention of everyone from fine art critics to journalists and celebrities. In 2009, when Madonna was set to release her greatest hits compilation, “Celebration,” she asked Mr. Brainwash to design the cover. He designed 15 different covers for the wide release, singles, DVDs and special edition vinyl. Mr. Brainwash was now not just commenting on pop culture, he had become a part of it.
New York was the next stop. In 2010, Mr. Brainwash invaded the Meatpacking District with “Life Is Beautiful: Icons”, his first New York solo show. This show was bigger than ever, covering a 15,000 square foot, multi-story warehouse. The downstairs displayed Mr. Brainwash’s evocative portraits of music legends, constructed from bits of broken records. The exhibit also featured a 10-foot tall boom box and a life-size NYC taxicab in Matchbox toy car packaging. Scheduled for 3 months, Icons was so popular that it was extended for another 6 months, as “Life Is Beautiful: Icons Remixed”, with new installations, Mr. Brainwash had now shown both coasts the force of his solo exhibitions. Prestigious auction houses and collectors, including Christie’s and Phillips de Pury, took notice by putting his work in high-profile auctions.
Mr. Brainwash then set off to Miami for one of the art world’s most respected Art Fair, Art Basel. Without any announcement or notice, Mr. Brainwash took over a 25,000 square foot building in South Beach with a colorful pop up show entitled, “Life Is Beautiful: Under Construction”. The show was his trademark style, playful and positive, but on a huge scale. Once the show opened, it exploded, becoming the must-see attraction at Art Basel.
2010 also saw the release of one of the most talked-about documentaries in years, Exit Through the Gift Shop. Using footage shot by Mr. Brainwash himself, and directed by fellow street artist, Banksy, Exit Through the Gift Shop followed the evolution of street art, with Mr. Brainwash at the center of it all. The film was nominated for an Academy Award and received numerous prizes, including an Independent Spirit Award for ‘Best Documentary.’ The success of Exit Through the Gift Shop catapulted Mr. Brainwash to worldwide fame as he persisted in breaking down pop art’s walls.
Mr. Brainwash continued to bring his art all over the world, making his Canadian debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011. Mr. Brainwash’s installations were placed all over the city. They included his signature 8-foot tall spray can sculptures, each one a different film genre, and life-size Canadian Mounties cutouts, armed with boom mics and cameras. In addition, he created all of the Street marketing material for the Grace Kelly TIFF exhibition: “ Movie star to Princess”. Everywhere Mr. Brainwash went, he was able to create a pop art conversation with the city he was creating for.
Mr. Brainwash headed back to Miami for Art Basel in 2011 with a new show, “Life Is Beautiful: Untitled”. Occupying the same South Beach space, he constructed a vibrant world of fiberglass sculpture and mixed media canvases. Again, the show was a huge hit, attracting big collectors, worldwide galleries and celebrities; it defines Mr Brainwash as one of the most popular and relevant artist of today.
As the year came to a close, Mr. Brainwash returned to the home of his first solo show, Los Angeles, with “Life Is Beautiful: Art Show 2011”. This show was his biggest yet, taking over an 80,000 square foot building in the center of the city. Each day, thousands of people flocked to see this thrilling monster of a show, which embraced Los Angeles, the epicenter of pop.
In addition to being able to attend the show, Mr. Brainwash also gave artists the opportunity to be a part of the show. For the exhibition, he donated over 20,000 square feet of space to showcase donated works from around the globe. Artists were invited to mail in their art or install the artworks themselves.
Not only does Mr. Brainwash create and foster art in his community, but he also gives in other ways. Mr. Brainwash continues to be a frequent donor to important causes such as the Children’s Cancer & Blood Foundation, Free Arts NY, The Prince’s Trust, The Black Ball, 0 among others.
Following the massive LA show, 2012 only got bigger. Sotheby’s featured Mr. Brainwash in a private contemporary art exhibit in Mexico City, solidifying his popularity with collectors and with the world’s most well-known art houses around the globe.
When the Summer Olympics arrived, and the whole world had its eye on London, Mr. Brainwash made his UK debut by invading The Old Sorting Post Office, a colossal space, steps from the British Museum. His love of British pop culture icons rang out through the streets, as Mr. Brainwash adorned the side of the Sorting Office with a 6 story tall Queen Elizabeth II, in her coronation attire, holding a Union Jack spray can . The show was a retrospective and a re interpretation of his classic and iconic images. Large crowds filled the gigantic space each day. It became Mr. Brainwash’s most attended show to date.
From the Olympics to the National Election, Mr. Brainwash headed back Stateside to create the artwork for “Rock the Vote,” a national campaign reminding the youth about the importance of voting and the power of democracy.
By 2013, Mr. Brainwash was truly one of the most in-demand artists, worldwide. He continued to play with pop culture and designed the décor for Seth McFarlane’s exclusive Oscar Party. He adorned the party space with his Rockwell, Botero, and Degas re-imaginations, as well as playful, large-scale sculptures.
2013 also saw Mr. Brainwash’s triumphant return to Art Basel. Taking up residency in Gale South Beach on Collins Avenue, a hotel on one of the most iconic streets in Miami, Mr. Brainwash staged a pop art takeover by installing large-scale oil paintings and sculptures, including a 3 story tall Mona Lisa with a Mohawk.
In addition to the art and film communities, Mr. Brainwash is also an in-demand name in the music industry. He has designed art for the album campaigns of some of the world’s most influential artists: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, and recently Rick Ross to name a few. In 2013, in collaboration with the Hard Rock Hotel, Mr. Brainwash attacked the pulse of the music industry: Coachella. He adorned the festival with towering murals, adding an additional element of surprise and wonder and solidifying his already strong connection to music.
Madonna approached him, again, and asked Mr. Brainwash to take part in another collaboration, this time the opening of her gym, Hard Candy Fitness in Toronto. The Hard Candy Fitness opening featured the live on-site creation of an 11 by 30-foot Madonna mural, designed by Mr. Brainwash.
From the Queen of Pop, to the King of Pop, Mr. Brainwash recently designed artwork for Michael Jackson’s newest release, “Xscape,” as Michael Jackson was an early admirer of Mr. Brainwash and they had become close friends over the years.
Mr. Brainwash is unlike any artist today. His shows are journeys – self-guided tours through a pop culture wonderland: colorful and beautiful. His message always positive. His artwork is a pure sensory experience and like so many of the subjects depicted in Mr. Brainwash’s art, his works are timeless, reflecting human aspirations and the voice that screams, “Follow Your Dreams.” Life Is Beautiful!