Kai Aspire: the exclusive interview

Published on January 18th, 2018

It is always an exciting time of year when Art Basel comes to the 305. On Dec. 6th-9th, Miami was swarmed with artists and art lovers alike. Here at Distraction, we had the incredible opportunity to meet up-and-coming artist Kai Aspire.

Kai describes himself as “a Los Angeles street artist that has had the luxury of travelling the world and the ability to send a little bit of positivity through some paint and cement”. Kai started his professional career in Miami, so he was excited to come back to his roots for this project, a mural in the Miami Design District. “Miami’s always been good to me. My first ever public viewing of my character “IF” was in Miami,” he added.

Kai’s character “IF” is a kind of blank slate for human nature. Throughout all of his pieces, we can all find a piece of ourselves in “IF”. At the Bel Air Fine Art Gallery, Kai’s mural is painted proudly on the wall of the back patio. “The idea that it was painted in a little garden in the middle of a very busy, commercial area, was to give whoever came by a little Zen corner,” Kai said, “the messages aren’t so powerful or so brute like some of my other works. That way you really feel like you’re in a safe space in this crazy neighborhood.” In the mural, we can see images of “IF” in some dreamy, cutesy poses.

In the Markowicz Fine Art Gallery just down the street, some of Kai’s smaller, more intricate, pieces are displayed. There is an entire wall dedicated to square cement plaques that all feature “IF” in situations that are very common or troublesome throughout modern society. None of these plaques have any words on them, Kai says this was intentional so that he “could take them to Amsterdam and Japan and everyone would be able to understand them.”

The original reason why Kai started to create these mini masterpieces was to “flip the script” on street art. He wanted to show the world that doing street art was not “ruining the streets or degrading neighborhoods” but rather, paying homage to the beauty of the streets and expressing deep love for them.

When asked if today’s political climate affected his work in any capacity, Kai said that “because it’s on my mind I’ll have a little comment about something in the world. But it’s on a personal space. I don’t want to be blunt about it and say ‘this is what you should see, this is what you should feel’ I want everyone to feel what they want to feel, and get what they want out of the work. I never want to impose my will on people.” It is very important to him that each viewer has the opportunity to interpret each piece in their own way.

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