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On the cover: Yin Yang by Tavar

Tell us a bit about the creation of Yin Yang.

The whole basis of the piece is balance. I think it’s important to have just as much input as output. At the moment it seems like the world is out of balance; people seem to be far more concerned with what they put out there rather than what they take in. I think we could all benefit from slowing down and listening as much as we speak.

How difficult was it for you to drop the moniker ABOVE and the anonymity that came with that after 22 years?

I had heavily branded everything I had done as ABOVE. It was all focused around arrows, and I realised that I had painted myself into a corner. I was lucky in the fact that the work I produced as ABOVE was commercially successful and has allowed me to live off my art, but I have always been interested in so many different styles of art and design which I didn’t feel I could do as ABOVE, which had kind of become a brand. The choice to be myself has been extremely liberating: I feel like I’ve been hiding myself and here I am.

Tavar Zawacki at work

What was it like creating Metamorphosis, your first exhibition and book under your own name?

It was one of the proudest moments of my life. It was my first solo exhibition and it was great to come out swinging. There was work in that show I would never have created as ABOVE – I was using shapes and colours that had nothing to do with the work I was doing before. I felt like I’d won the creative lottery.

You’ve produced street art in more than 50 countries. Were any trips particularly memorable?

In 2004 I started doing installations using wooden arrows which I would hang safely, if illegally, off overhead wires. I spent three years hanging them all across Europe and both North and South America. The European trip was really memorable. I mailed out boxes of these arrows to different cities on my route and went all across the continent hanging them in the middle of the night. It was a crime spree – but a victimless one.

What’s next for you?

I have a show coming up in Milan which I’m really excited about. It’s called Shapeshifting. I’m halfway through the works at the moment and they look nothing like anything I’ve done before. I can predict that people who know my work and see this exhibition won’t be expecting it.

Shapeshifting opens at the Wunderkammern Gallery, Milan on 20th November 2018. Zawacki’s monograph, Metamorphosis, is published by Urban Spree Books at £30.


Unlocked, from Zawacki’s solo show, Metamorphosis



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