W hat is the importance of art in the evolution of culture? Well think of the role of culture in every level of society, from the esteemed and sacred cultures of high art and fashion to the spontaneously arising and self-esteemed culture of the streets and everyday life. The separation between “high” and “low” might be as old as human culture itself, but bridges are being forged. NIGO® is one of the engineers.
NIGO®’s importance is his innate ability to curate-to-communicate between those worlds, as effortlessly as seeing and speaking at the same time.
Prior to pop-culture embracing the niche, the marginal and the street, NIGO® was already curating a realm of prominent artists to expose that which was combusting beneath the surface of the street. This was the underground culture that was stemming from graffiti writers in New York City, and NIGO®’s collection captured the essential voices that have carried these messages and values across a critical moment of enlightenment spanning every level of culture and society.
The work of artists like FUTURA, Stash and KAWS form vital cornerstones in a world that has developed largely outside of traditional art institutions. When these artists were roaming the streets, few people understood the value of their work; today we have the luxury of hindsight. What they created, and people like NIGO® knew to value, is the “bridge” that connects these islands.
From the perspective of the street, this collection of artworks is a vital time capsule.
NIGO®’s singular vision as an artist himself and his inimitable understanding of the value of alliances influenced his choices long before collaboration was the formalized mode of working that it is today. NIGO® was its predecessor and instigator – and this body of work cannot be underestimated in terms of its cultural significance. In it we see the evolution of street culture, and its validation in the fine art space.
As a descendant of this new way of thinking, NIGO®’s impact on my own career is undeniable. Postmodern culture has corroborated what NIGO® knew all along. It is thanks to people like him that we are able to walk across bridges and traverse parallel worlds.
—Virgil Abloh, Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton, Founder and creative director of Off-White™ © 2019
NIGOLDENEYE® Vol. 1 will be on view in Hong Kong from 29 March–1 April. Auction: 1 April.