Barry McGee's art buzzes with an infectious street vitality that celebrates the rich pageant of city living, while lambasting its ills, overstimulations, frustrations, addictions. His early years as a graffiti artist, tagging on the streets of San Francisco under such monikers as Ray Fong, Twist and Twisto, still nourish his drive to inscribe the blank face of modern life with the personal and the handmade. A part of the early 1990s art and graffiti boom associated with San Francisco's Mission School (others include Clare Rojas, Chris Johanson and Aaron Noble) and with the Beautiful Loser generation, McGee synthesizes a wide range of resources, including the Mexican muralists, anonymous street art and San Francisco Beat poetry, all of which are notably characterized by a sense of public address that McGee never neglects to convey in his own work. His paintings, drawings and installations spill over with graphic energy and political anger, and direct exhortations to his audience to respond to the life around them. This hardcover artist's book takes the form of a visual collage, incorporating photographs, drawings, paintings and documentation of past and present installations. It is the definitive volume on a much-loved artist.
Barry McGee was born in San Francisco in 1968 and studied at the San Francisco Art Institute. He continues to live and work in that city. He has had solo exhibitions at Brandeis University's Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Massachusetts, Deitch Projects in New York and the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.