Interview with Artist Mr Cenz as he exhibits his new show ‘Distortions’ at the Pure Evil Gallery

Look around the streets of Shoreditch and Brick Lane and it’s likely that at some point you’ll see some work from spray paint maestro Mr. Cenz. Now exhibiting with the Pure Evil Gallery for what is his first solo show in eight years, the show features work showcasing what for Cenz is “a new style and direction as an artist.”

Mr. Cenz has been a regular feature on the graffiti and street art scene since the late eighties. Acknowledging that his style is a mixture of the two he considers himself more a graffiti artist as that he says “is my roots and biggest influence.”

Mr Cenz art on New Inn Broadway in Shoreditch

Mr Cenz art on New Inn Broadway in Shoreditch

It was the iconic book ‘Subway Art‘ that combined with a “new and exciting hip hop movment” which provided a window into the New York Graffiti World that would provide inspiration. “The music was fresh and exciting and the artwork on the New York Subway trains blew my mind” says Cenz. Describing the art he saw as “masterpieces” it was from that point on that he was hooked! “I learnt my trade by copying every piece from the book until I could create my own letters, then I hit the streets at about 10 years old.” It was an early and auspicious start for a man who would become one of London’s best known writers.

Starting out he used to write the tag ‘Cence’ which over the years progressed into ‘Cenz’ “it’s important to keep the same name so I just stuck with it” he explains. Recently adding the ‘Mr’ he had discovered another artist writing ‘Cenz’ and so “wanted to be unique”. In terms of the meaning? “Like most tags, it has no meaning, I just enjoy writing the letters”.

Mr Cenz art on Whitby Street in Shoreditch

Mr Cenz art on Whitby Street in Shoreditch

Describing his style as a mix of all the influences and techniques he’s learned over the years, at the heart of his work still sits traditional letter graffiti. “My influences are broad and span all my different life experiences like the early graffiti scene, going to Art College and travelling the world. Particular artists that stand out are early graffiti art masters like Mode 2 and Dondi and fine artists like Paul Klee, Ken Kiff and Roger Hilton.”

It’s something which Cenz says has taken years to develop “your style is the most important thing you have and has to be fresh and original” he tells me. “I’ve always tried to do something different so after developing my letter styles based on tight graphic line work and symmetry I began looking at my old paintings from college. Now I have fused those experimental painting techniques and the graffiti lettering together to create a unique way of working.”

Mr Cenz art on Fashion Street

Mr Cenz art on Fashion Street, the film of this work as it is created can be seen from Whitesao here

Cenz often portrays women in his art, working from fashion photos found on the internet which he feels have the potential to be developed. All the women are fictional with the intention to look for interesting poses and light on their faces. “I just use the photo as a reference and freestyle the rest and see what happens.”

Now returning to the gallery after such a long hiatus Cenz says that the show is the result of those female faces he has been painting on the streets over the past few years. “I have been getting a good response from people and I thought I might as well start painting some canvasses again. People seem to connect with them.”

As a regular on the London art scene it’s good to see Cenz showing his work once more in a gallery setting, especially one as renowned as the Pure Evil, so if you have the chance get down there to see work from one of the true masters of the art.

Distortions from Mr. Cenz will show at the Pure Evil Gallery on Leonard Street in Shoreditch until 9 November 2014. Mr. Cenz was interviewed over email on 12 October 2014. To see Mr. Cenz in action check out this short film from Whitesao here.

Mr Cenz Gallery

Mr Cenz at the Pure Evil Gallery

Mr Cenz at the Pure Evil Gallery

Whitesao filming at the launch of Distortions the show from Mr Cenz

Whitesao filming at the launch of Distortions the show from Mr Cenz

Mr Cenz flier at the Pure Evil Gallery

Mr Cenz flier at the Pure Evil Gallery

Mr Cenz art at the Pure Evil Gallery

Mr Cenz art at the Pure Evil Gallery

Mr Cenz art in the Pure Evil Gallery

Mr Cenz art in the Pure Evil Gallery

Pure Evil Gallery

Pure Evil Gallery

Mr Cenz art with work from Pure Evil in the background

Mr Cenz art with work from Pure Evil in the background

Mr Cenz at the Pure Evil Gallery

Mr Cenz at the Pure Evil Gallery

Mr Cenz art in the Seven Stars car park on Brick Lane

Mr Cenz art in the Seven Stars car park on Brick Lane

Mr Cenz in action at Scalter Street Stalls earlier in the year

Mr Cenz in action at Scalter Street Stalls earlier in the year