“Life’s A Lottery” by Component, 2012
Our artist of the week: Component
There are two main ways to start interpreting Component, and as with so many cultural ‘stars’, one of them involves his work as part of a group, and the other concerns his showings ‘solo’. The former, is a reference to Cut Collective, the Auckland, New Zealand-based collective of artists that since its formation in 2006, has espoused a philosophy of inclusiveness borne out of a recognition of the value of collaboration.
Laying out the background of Cut Collective
In order to properly understand Component, it really is helpful to know something of the story of Cut Collective. Currently a five-strong group with artists bearing the monikers of Component, TrustMe, Enforce1, Peepshow and iThink, Cut Collective came to be in an informal process over a number of years.
While the participant artists certainly varied in their art-making sympathies and histories, they realised that their respective practices and projects were complimentary, and so Cut Collective was formally born – the name a reference to how ideas are dealt with in the collective, being cut and left lying on the cutting room floor.
However, the collective is also a true community, and like many communities, is in a continual state of flux, with new relationships constantly being established and fresh ideas explored. While the group’s approach is proudly casual and spontaneous, this should not be mistaken for a lack of seriousness. The group’s projects have been purposefully laced with comment on society, the environment, consumption and the general human condition in the modern world.
Cut Collective was formed in 2006 by Component, TrustMe, Flox and Enforce1. Image Source: cutcollective.co.nz
The artist with a true community purpose
Given his status as a founding member of Cut Collective, you would probably expect Component – a self-taught artist and illustrator predominantly working in spray paint and stencils – to have embraced some of its precepts, and you would be quite right.
Component is certainly an artist who acknowledges the value of collaboration and community, including contributing to that community wherever possible, such as through his DJ’ing and running of workshops. It is as part of this grander, community-oriented ethos that he takes full notice of the disparate elements of the world around him, covering everything from odes to fallen hip-hop legends like Ol’ Dirty Bastard and J Dilla. Nor is he afraid to be political about such matters as censorship and conformity.
“R.I.P. DILLA” by Component, Image Source: component.co.nz
Such broad-ranging subject matter and influences manifest in Component’s works in ways that are anything but predictable. Who else would have come up with a work like Queeny that depicts England’s Queen Elizabeth “scratching” at a turntable, or such a memorable print as Google God that declares next to a figure of Jesus: “I don’t have all the answers, try Google”? The latter shows the urban art originally painted by Component on the walls of Soho Hole in Grey Lynn, the suburb of Auckland City from which he hails.
“Google God” by Component, limited edition serigraph, 2011
Indeed, Grey Lynn does not play a merely incidental role in Component’s creations, which actually show the influence on the artist of the cultural shifts in his home area brought about by money and outside interests. On brick walls throughout the city of Auckland, in fact, Component’s distinctively thought-provoking works can be seen, a complement to his canvas-based practice.
As big a ‘star’ inside and outside the group
It may seem incongruous to use the word ‘star’ in reference to an artist with a belief in working together for the greater good rather than standing out for his own sake. However, it could surely be used for Component, whose works show the social consciousness, inventiveness and ability to recontextualise an ‘old school’ spirit for the present day that characterises so many of the great urban creatives.
Whether it is Component’s participation in Cut Collective that you most admire, with its belief in bringing together and enhancing a community – manifesting in the likes of large-scale installations and commercial design – or you are instead most fascinated by Component’s own artistic attention to detail, there’s no doubt of the cultural value of both entities.
Continuing to navigate the worlds of art and business through the constant diversification and changing up of his practice while giving back to the community, Component is here to stay, his practice one with relevance far beyond the confines of Grey Lynn.
Art Warning The World: Street Artist Component Represents New Zealand
Art Warning The World: a collaboration of 202 visual artists spanning 200 countries. Created by New York-based French artist Klaus Guingand, the work centres around Guingand’s prophetic warning:
“Quand le mot liberte disparaitra des dictionnaires il sera trop tard pour regir.” Which he translates as: ‘When the word freedom ceases to appear from dictionaries, it will be too late to react.’
Each artist wrote this sentence on their home country’s flag, translated if necessary into their national language.