“Without Excuse is a piece I made while I was at the Jardin Orange artist residency in Shenzhen, China in 2018.
"I spent a lot of time in Shenzhen, roaming around abandoned buildings collecting old signs and posters and billboards. I don't read Chinese, so I had no idea what was written on any of these things. What I was trying to do was tell something about a place through what was discarded or left behind, while also juxtaposing that with some of my salvage portraits. Much of the material in this piece came from an abandoned office building at the beginning of August 2018. By the time I left Shenzhen, the building was well on its way to being apartments. Things change fast in Shenzhen.
"The original piece is 50x66 inches (125 x 168cm) on a section of vinyl billboard I found being used as a tarp in the abandoned office building.
"The title Without Excuse comes from the line of small text just to the left of the figures head which literally says 'Refuse to accept excuse', which was pinned to an office wall. The large main text in red and blue translates as 'wonderful exquisite life'. Additional pieces collaged onto the piece read 'Crane for rent', 'Make more money', 'Good business and prosperity', and there is even a small newspaper headline about President Xi.
"In some ways these discarded things do describe the ethos of Shenzhen. Shenzhen was China's first Special Economic Zone, an experiment by China with market capitalism. It is literally a manufactured city. In 1979 in was little more than a fishing village with a population of 60,000. 40 years later, it is a city of 13 million and the manufacturing center of the world. Shenzhen is at the center of China's exponential economic growth. It is a boomtown like no other. In many ways the random text I collected illustrates the dream that Shenzhen presented: hard work, wealth, business development. In that sense, it was my most successful experiment in telling the story of a place by combining random discarded things. Things whose meanings were only told to me after the piece was finished. The addition of the Salvage portrait makes the piece a cautionary tale about the fragility of that unbridled growth. The age old boom to bust scenario that we never really seem to accept as more than coincidental or circumstantial.
"Each of these prints have been hand painted and contain the number of the edition in Chinese characters at the bottom right corner. Near the left edge, the edition number is also painted into the existing background in English. Making these 40 variations was one of the most enjoyable studio projects I have done in recent years."
Eddie attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and graduated from the California College of Arts with a BFA in photography/interdisciplinary fine arts in 1991. He began his artistic career as a photographer, working first for the New York Times and later countless magazines, record labels and ad agencies. 15 years later he has morphed into one who counters the all-pervasive nature of commercialism in public spaces.
Since 2005, his wheatpastes and stencils can be found throughout public spaces in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Miami. Eddie's work first began to garner national recognition when his street art began incorporating images of Barack Obama throughout the 2008 Presidential election. His growing popularity landed him attention on internet blogs, features in six published books, and participation in the "Manifest Hope Art Gallery" shows at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and at the Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C. His designs have been transformed many times over, from stickers, album and magazine covers.
Of his work Eddie states, “Some people view what I do as vandalism. I assume that their objection is that I alter the landscape without permission. Advertising perpetually alters our environment without the permission of it’s inhabitants. The only difference is that advertisers pay for the privilege to do so and I don’t. So if you’re going to call me anything, it is more accurate to call me a thief.” His work has been featured alongside Hush, Blek Le Rat, Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Keith Haring, and Kaws in the Indoor Mural show at 941 Geary in San Francisco, the Arts Fund Expo at Art Basel Miami and Digard's "Urban Contemporary Art" Auction in Paris. In August of 2011, Eddie completed an 80 ft mural in Little Saigon San Francisco chronicling the Vietnamese Diaspora. In 2012 Eddie participated in Pow Wow Hawaii and created an all encompassing post-apocalyptic installation with D Young V and Hugh Leeman at Hold -Up Gallery in Los Angeles.
Eddie took on the role of curator at lOAKal gallery in Oakland CA in December of 2012. In 2013 Eddie worked closely on collaborations with D Young V creating several large scale public mural projects and a 2 man installation "Memento Mori" in San Rafael CA. His curating extended to Ian Ross Gallery in San Francisco where he curated "Made in China" a group exhibition where contemporary artists had their work hung side by side with counterfeits produced in an oil painting factory in China. Through 2014-15 Eddie began traveling to Europe and Asia creating street pieces for Paris and Thailand. He finished off the year with 2 collaborative murals with D Young V in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico for Dreamers Art Festival. His work has also been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post and the Chicago Tribune.