Mighty Tanaka

Art Advising // Consultation // Curation



The Rise of the Jellyfish

There is a conversation on the streets that has been happening for decades.  However, instead of verbal expressions, this conversation is entirely visual.  Artists come from around the world to inject their imagery onto the streets of New York City, adding to the discussion, building a voice through their individual interpretations of the human experience.  This deliberation between contributors is a free for all, an open dialogue that is accessible for all to view.  Yet, if one looks closely enough, you will find trends and topics, poems and puns and an array of well conceived characters, content and confrontations.

However, some artists possess the ability to place a visual marker on the street that causes the random individual passerby to stop in their tracks, turn towards the wall and begin appreciate the complex beauty that is unraveling before them.  One artist who can achieve just that is simply known as the Jellyfish.  The artwork has become a ubiquitous sight on the streets of NYC, an eye catching combination of color and drips, which peaks interest and speaks to the heart.  The Jellyfish creates work that transcends both Graffiti and Street Art culture while thriving entirely within both movements.  It's raw and expressive imagery that is filled with movement and symbolism, perhaps a somewhat prophetic vision of a dying planet and an evolving city.  

The Jellyfish's street work in DUMBO, circa 2011

The Jellyfish first made his mark about four or five years ago, decorating neighborhoods around Brooklyn with his symbolic imagery.  Thriving under the guise of anonymity, the artist kept to the shadows, going about his business in a quiet way, leaving his aquatic calling card for all to enjoy. Thrilled by the passion of the artwork, he shunned the limelight in order to pursue his craft without the accompaniment of fame or notoriety, remaining under the radar for years.  This stealthy business built up his reputation, as both urban artists as well as the population at large were stumped by the identity of this illusive artist.  As the rumors swirled, the Jellyfish thrived, and to this day, he is still shrouded by secrecy.

Roofing paper is one of the new mediums that the Jellyfish has been using for his fine art.

The mystery of his identity is complimented by the uniqueness of his art.  What was initially meant to be an abstract, gestural form of art on the street quickly became something more representational, which was not necessarily intended.  Armed only with a can of spray paint, the Jellyfish wanted to create something different from formulaic interpretations of street art that litter the walls throughout NYC.  What he accomplished with his jellyfish has built a proverbial bridge, not only between graffiti and street art culture, but also with the average New Yorker.  The heavy drips in his artwork took on life like qualities that resembled organically moving tentacles, the motion of his spray can created a purpose and direction for the object to move and his clusters of individual pieces created a thriving mass on the city wall, similar to that of a swarm of jellyfish.  Thus, the Jellyfish was born.

Two new pieces on oxidized metal sheeting 

As the conversation on the streets evolves, so does that of the Jellyfish.  Exploring new techniques and approaches, his work continues to be experimental, as he is never content to rest on his laurels.  Through working with galleries such as Mighty Tanaka, he has been able to achieve a new renaissance in the interpretation of his artwork, visually reworking the Jellyfish imagery upon a variety of different mediums.  His iconic trademark has found its way into new settings without sacrificing the integrity of the street work, seamlessly transitioning into a different arena, fulfilling a distinct role within a contemporary surrounding.  The Jellyfish is thriving, building and conquering new ground through a clever style all his own.

Solo show by the Jellyfish at Mighty Tanaka Gallery, November 2014

The Jellyfish artwork can still be purchased through the gallery.  For a complete catalog of work or any questions you may have, please get in touch:  contact@mightytanaka.com