Juan Díaz Faes - Skate Wall 01 - Detail

The exciting new installation, Skate Wall 01, by Spanish artist Juan Díaz-Faes, puts the spotlight on skate culture at Colección SOLO, home to boarding luminaries such as Haroshi and former pro skaters like San Francisco-based Andrew Schoultz. Whether as inspiration, a source of materials or a whole way of life, boarding certainly has a place at the heart of Colección SOLO.

Skate Wall 01 sees Juan Díaz-Faes’s trademark designs invade 16 black and gold boards displayed as a two-metre wall installation. Appealing worm-like figures emerge from geometric creations, their wide, circular eyes and straight-line mouths achieving an immediate emotional connection. The chubby forms, repeated patterns and pared-back approach to character are all pure Díaz-Faes, while the simple colour palette lends genuine elegance, making this venture into boarding design a valuable newcomer to Colección SOLO’s ever expanding range of works.

Another recent addition to Colección SOLO’s holdings is Water Vessel by Andrew Schoultz. A black and red tiger climbs from a vase of beautifully rendered waves, flanked by slender trees and against a bright red sky. Schoultz cleverly combines modern-day issues with age-old imagery; his animal and flower motifs, meticulous attention to detail and the sheer scale of his works have earned him fans across the globe. Before becoming an artist, however, Shoultz was a pro skater, and is clear that his boarding background has impacted enormously on his visual creations.“Skate culture for me has influenced my work in so many ways…but mostly the mentality and DIY attitude is really what has given me the perspective to just go out and do things, thinking outside societal norms, and what is deemed acceptable.”

Erstwhile fan of public space art projects, Schoultz is particularly attracted to squares as meeting places where different kinds of people can come together. And that was precisely the idea behind Infinity Plaza (2016), a skate-able installation developed for Art Basel Miami. As Schoultz explained to Milk.xyz, skaters are key to the piece: “It’s going to get shredded and thrashed for sure and that is definitely part of the piece. For me I always love the marks skateboards leave…we (my friends and I) always joke that some wall ride spots look like Cy Twombly drawings, or really amazing abstract pieces…I mean basically I think the thrash marks are just going to make it look better and better.”

No survey of skate-related artwork could be complete, though, without Haroshi. The Tokyo-based artist uses broken boards as his raw material, turning skateboard trash into stunning wooden sculptures. Pieces such as Screaming Foot or Kick Front Fork are directly linked to boarding and its physical risks, while Guzo (2017) is illustrative of the artist’s more recent ventures into character creation. Haroshi has hosted solo shows in the USA and Japan, and admits that, “These days I cut skateboards more than I ride them.” Yet there’s a skating soul inside all of his pieces. Quite literally. In a practice inspired by the 12th century sculptor Unkei, who would set a crystal ball inside each Buddha, Haroshi places a broken skateboard piece at the core of each work.