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Chaz Bojorquez: Grandfather of L.A Graffiti art

  • 2 min read

We have a fab new print by L.A. based Chaz Bojorquez , a highly influential artist who was one of the first to use stencil art on the streets. His use of calligraphy blends his Latin American influences of Cholo graffiti with Chinese characters, Old English text and psychedelia.

“Locos de Cali” (translated as west coast crazies) displays Chaz Bojorquez changing calligraphy style over the years through three layers of different tags. He also used this image at the MOCA "Art in the Streets" Exhibition in a piece painted directly on the wall.

A master of graffiti art, now in his 60s Bojorquez is a veteran of the graffiti art scene and considered the “grandfather of graffiti in Los Angeles”. His work is very much associated with identity. His gothic lettering a strong expression of his heritage and presence among Latino culture and the L.A. gangs within that. He is proud of who he is and his heritage.

Chaz Bojorquez was one of the first to use stencil art on the streets preferring the brush and acrylics to the spray can. Growing up he experienced a style of traditional writing that was treated as an honoured code amongst the East Los Angeles Mexican Americans to be respected as a mark of their culture. This led him to be one of the first to develop his own typography through his tags when he started writing on the streets in the 60s.

His original tag of Senor Suerte, a stylised skull inspired by Mexican folklore, became a powerful image that has come to be used amongst gangs as a symbol for the protection against death. Gang members have even gone as far as tattooing the symbol on themselves; apparently the tattoo is used so widely amongst certain gangs they are put in separate cells in prison if the tag is found on them.

Now as a successful artist having made the transition from street to gallery, his work is now in several permanent collections in America including the Smithsonian, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Museum of Contemporary art. He has been the inspiration to several up and coming street artist such as RETNA who considers him a great mentor. The influence of Chaz on RETNA’s work is clearly visible.

 

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