“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” Cesar A. Cruz
We are very excited to finally feature one of our favourite artists, ABCNT. Widely known as a sociopolitical anarchist, his works reflect his strong voice on social and political issues since mid-nineties — This could pose as a concern to some while others follow his Art religiously. Hence, we’ve decided to speak to this intriguing artist to find out more about his main focus of being authentic and true to self despite it all.
[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.]
Hi ABCNT, I know you’ve probably been asked this question a lot of times…But could you tell our readers the reason for having your artist moniker, ABCNT?
There are a lot of reasons. My number one reason for having an artist moniker is to be incognito by keeping identity anonymous in fighting fascism. Also, to have experiences authentically without any preconceived notions being attached to an artist even before an interaction. ‘ABCNT’ is more than a cult of personality, it is used to highlight content in my Art. There was no such thing as street art where I grew up even around graffiti and hip-hop culture. It was always illegal to get up (“the act of writing graffiti on a wall”) therefore identities have to be private.
Let’s talk about your collaboration with us, how did the inspiration to do the artwork of Bitchy Rich come about? And why was it chosen to be translated into an art collectible?
The inspiration was [based off] the comic book character, Richie Rich. Ever since the main protagonist inherited his family’s wealth, he does not have a lot of friends. It made sense to me one day to attach Trump’s stylised head to Richie Rich’s body and thus gave birth to Bitchy Rich. I think every artist is fascinated with the idea of their work being translated into a three-dimensional figure. Given that some of my Bitchy Rich street art went viral, I knew it was something to be pursued further. I hit up Mighty Jaxx and we made it happened together. Forever thankful to you guys.
As we unveil a new and exciting variant of Bitchy Rich aptly named MADNESS together, what was the idea behind this colourway?
I personally don’t think anyone could have imagined the happenings in the first year since Trump has been elected as the president — so much surreal nonsense has been normalised and it feels like being ruled by a jester. All that’s missing is the makeup! It is as [how I imagined to be] once the orange skin peeled away, revealing underneath a mad clown running amok.
Lastly, your works are hugely based off today’s political world. Do you actively seek out news for the next piece? And should it be a concern to artists if they were to be typecast as “controversial”?
I have always gravitated towards the bigger picture of things and just to name a few, politics, geography or history. I actively consume news every day regardless of what I am doing. News is not my main source of inspiration but sometimes when I come across things that are so absurd such as the war on drugs for instance and instead of me writing a thesis paper, I personally feel like imagery can have a stronger impact in making a case for your idea.
As far as being “controversial”, it really depends on the reason for being controversial and whether it even relates to your work. I have a process whereby my works need to be justified by me before I put it out there. In other words, I have to be convinced before I can convince others. It is never for the reason of sensationalism but as an intention to make sense of what is happening. If I am being labelled “controversial”, I would think the person or people who have slapped on such label is most likely conservative in some aspect. With that, I would like to end off with the following quote by Bertolt Brecht, “Art is not a mirror to reflect reality but a hammer to shape it.”
Our collaboration Bitchy Rich titled MADNESS will be dropping this Saturday, 10th February (11PM SGP, 10AM NYC, 3PM LDN) on the front page of www.mightyjaxx.rocks