Keef Aura is an artist from Los Angeles… (a muralist, illustrator,
calligrapher, poet, musician, martial artist, urban Sufi, RedRoad hoodlum,
star-traveling, inter-dimensional pagan… seriously 😉
His work evolved out of the original 5%er HipHop movement and
continues to be informed by its spirit. He derives much of his inspiration
from the many wisdom traditions from around the world, and understands
these cultural ceremonies, rooted in spirituality, to be the truest artistic
expressions of humanity. As a result, he approaches his work in a similar
holistic fashion, as a means of dealing with the multi-faceted effects of our
experiences in this post-modern, post-technological world we’ve
Keef Aura is an advocate for arts education, as well as an example
of using art as a therapeutic practice. Although he is a vandal at heart, he
holds a Bachelor’s of fine arts and education from Otis College of Art and
Design and has exhibited his work in various galleries, museums and
streets throughout the U.S. and around the world.
We asked Keef to give us the HISTORY OF KEEF AURA…
I’ve been drawing all my life, but when I was about 12‐13 years old (’87‐’88) I started getting
into graffiti. Krylon became my medium of choice. I wasn’t into what most people now‐a‐days consider
graffiti art or street art. I was into the script… writing my name, or what the news started calling
“tagging.” I’ve always been drawn to the outlaw spirit of graffiti… the “fuck you,” “throw a rock
through a window” mentality. I think there’s something beautiful about the raw freedom that exists
within that approach to art and life… especially when the genuine freedom of wild human earthlings is
being systematically encroached upon more and more everyday. I love it when people say, “oh I like
aerosol art, but I can’t stand that tagging shit.” That “tagging shit,” to me, is not only the nuts and bolts
of street art, it’s the youthful spirit… an outlaw mind state that’s at the heart of raw public artistic
expression. The mere act of writing ones name on public property is the original blue print for what’s
evolved into graffiti art, street art, public art, outsider art, urban primitive art, straight‐up gorilla
advertising or whatever labels we collectively accept to describe these creative expressions. To avoid
acknowledging raw graffiti as an art form is just another elite‐ist point of view deciding for us what
should and shouldn’t be considered art.
So, that’s a long way of saying I’ve always been interested in art, artists and they’re global
history… But it wasn’t until graffiti was introduced to me that I actually felt like there was an art world
that was relatable and accessible to me. Over the coarse of the next decade, all I did creatively was
informed by my addiction to writing my name specifically and vandalism in general. The constant
evolution of scribbled letter formations eventually transfigured into meandering doodles of alphabetreminiscent
fields of abstraction. From these fields, characters would emerge… the faces of humans,
aliens, animals, insects, etc. In the mid to late 90’s, I began to focus on painting these abstracted faces.
The work I’m doing now is derived directly from these doodles I was experimenting with back then.
As I’ve gotten older and continued studying art and the creative spirit, I’ve realized the
therapuetic nature of an art practice. Art and the process of making it, to me, is a form of internal
technology… Its a form of medicine that has the capability to heal not only the viewer but the artist as
well. Intuitively, my intentions are to elevate people to another level of reality where something sacred
or transcendent can be experienced… where something intangible can be made concrete for a while.
Much of my work functions as a type of amulet for invoking powerful aspects of our spirits… similar to
yantras in the Indian tradition. Tools produced by and for the spiritual exercising of the subconscious
immanence of being.
Although the awareness of the spirit is a prominent element of my work, the city I live in is
constantly battling me. The city, by its nature, has a tendency to separate humans from their humanity…
And since art creates and is created by its cultural context, the urban labyrinth is, for better or for worse,
a common aspect of my way of life and creative expression. I see myself as a sort of urban shaman…
navigating through this post industrial police state in a manner that places matters of the spirit as
I’m filled with gratitude for being able to share my work with people all over the world. I look
forward to expanding through borders and collaborating with other creatives from different disciplines.
Eventually, I would love to have a studio out in the natural world, somewhere off the grid… A place
where I can touch the Earth.
Connect with Keef: