BUFFALO, NY – Felipe Pantone’s (Spanish, born Argentina, 1986) newest work of public art, Optichromie - BUF, 2019, is located at Town Ballroom on Washington Street. The work covers the legendary concert venue’s façade with the artist's signature fusion of mesmerizing black-and-white patterns with bold prismatic forms and oversized fluorescent pixels. For the artist, these and similar elements serve as a set of endlessly reconfigurable building blocks that form the basis of his murals, sculptures, and paintings.
While this approach to artmaking speaks to the endless cycles of duplication and transformation characteristic of digital art and culture, Pantone takes a long view of technological progress. He sees the computer modeling programs he uses in developing his designs as part of a continuum of image-making innovations alongside the pencil and oil paint of his studio practice and street art creations. From this vantage point, the artist is at heart an optimist about the positive potential of a digital future to make the world a more dynamic and connected place.
Pantone (an alias derived from his graffiti moniker “Pant” or “Pant1”; he only later learned of the happy coincidence with the name of the color company) began illicitly painting on the streets of his hometown of Valencia, Spain, when he was twelve. After experimenting with numerous graffiti styles as a teenager and young adult, he found himself drawn to the Op and Kinetic art of the 1960s—especially the work of Carlos Cruz-Diez, Julio Le Parc, Luis Tomasello, and Victor Vasarely, all of whom are represented in the Albright-Knox’s collection—as a primary source of inspiration for his current imagery. While today Pantone also creates paintings and sculptures in a dedicated studio space, he finds himself continually drawn back to the unique energy of the street and the challenge of working outdoors and in public.
The Albright-Knox’s Public Art Initiative is an innovative partnership between the museum and the County of Erie established in 2013 to enhance our shared sense of place and cultural identity in the urban and suburban landscapes of Western New York. The City of Buffalo joined the partnership in 2014. The goal of the initiative is to create spaces of dialogue where diverse communities have the ability to socially engage with, actively respond to, and cooperatively produce great public art that is capable of empowering individuals, creating stronger neighborhoods, and establishing Western New York as a critical cultural center.
The Public Art Initiative integrates a wide range of artworks into publicly accessible spaces and engages the diversity of the region’s artistic energies and cultural points of view. Through this initiative, the Albright-Knox seeks to expand public interaction with artists and artworks. The initiative promotes education about the arts through works in the Albright-Knox’s Public Art collection, related programming, and creative partnerships.
The Public Art collection includes works by those artists committed to visual innovation and community engagement. The Public Art Initiative presents artists from around the region, nation, and world working in varied forms of media, from traditional to forward-thinking interactions, sculpture to performance, and the permanent to the ephemeral.