Zes, aka Zeser, aka Zes AWR/MSK, is a Los Angeles graffiti artist with a feral stare that you might only notice in serial killers or creative geniuses. He has been one of L.A.’s most prolific taggers for many years. If you look up every now and again, you may have noticed his burners in back alleys or on the ledges of buildings in Echo Park, but until very recently, you wouldn’t see his work in a gallery. And, if he had had his way, you weren’t going to.
It took many years of battling the obsessive-compulsive need to fit his name onto inaccessible surfaces (tops of buildings, viaducts, retaining walls) and the inner demons that go along with that mindset for Zes the graffiti artist to become Zes the gallery artist. Recently, he has been proving to contemporary art audiences that he’s got chops to hang out inside, and to our surprise, he’s looking forward to doing more. “There were other things going on in my life, besides me focusing in on my art and my talent,” explains Zes. “Now I’ve put aside all those other things that were going on and I feel like good things are coming.”
When it comes to the colors, it’s really just what’s on hand for me,” Zes continues. “Each piece is its own freestyle. It’s different and interesting because I get to work with tools I haven’t worked with before.”
Zes hides letterforms (like his daughter’s name, Love) within his compositions and actually sets instinctual time limits on how long he thinks each piece should take. He has found he’s still motivated by pressure, but this time there are no cops involved. “Right now, I’m just going for it. It is what it is, like graffiti,” he explains. “In my early years I was just out to prove myself and put a name up. I did it for kids in the neighborhood that didn’t have anything else to look at but gang graffiti. To open their minds to something else.”