Canvas Vandal - Naqee
Hailing from the South Side of Chicago, Naqee is an artist that has rightfully earned his spot in becoming part of the natural landscape of the Wicker Park art scene. For those who frequent the Damen blue line stop, Naqee is no stranger to the thousands of people that walk past as they go in-and-out of the particularly popular train platform.
I personally have been walking past Naqee for the past year while strolling to-and-from my day job in Wicker Park. The saturated colors and abstract-expressionist vibes are enough to get the attention of anyone ranging from timid tourists to faux hipsters passing by. After all of this time of snapping stalker-ish photos from a distance, I decided it was time to meet this expressive and enigmatic artist face-to-face, and hopefully get into a friendly discussion about about the evolving art scene that exists right here in Chicago.
Naqee turned out to be a really chill artist that was very willing to open up and discuss his artwork and process as much as I was eager to photograph and listen. For the thirty minutes I spent with him squatting on the hot pavement, we got off on many tangents pertaining to the future of the Chicago art scene. Before we got into anything too heavy, he told me about his personal work, which he says are inspired by his dreams for the future. When I tried pressing for one particular artist of influence, he was reluctant to pin his inspiration onto any sole artist. I discovered that he has been selling around on the streets of Chicago when he began taking his work more seriously in 2010. On his experiences out selling in public spaces, he says that people are generally open and nice, even if they aren't interested in buying. Above all the interactions with other creatives are priceless.
Naqee is limitless with his process and likes to use a variety of mediums that will later become the works of art sold on the streets. In an effort the embrace the unconventional and innovative, Naqee likes to integrate technology with his work by placing microchips in his canvases that once scanned, will redirect to a video of its creation. He also uses his love for fencing to create striking pieces by dipping the blades in paint and sparing with his canvases. There is definitely a sense of performance art to what he does, and when I call him out on it, he agrees and explains that he will be doing live fencing/paint performances during Wicker Park Fest on Milwaukee Ave from Friday 7/25- Sunday 7/27.
The comedown of our conversation was more serious and we were definitely on the same page which was refreshing for the both of us. His biggest goal with his art is to free the art of the conservative mindset that has infected the once free space. Competition rules the industry now as corporations pit other artists together in a competition of exposure and money, we both agree that this is only limiting and does nothing more than destroy the beauty of creativity. We get to that place of freedom by discussion, and I was lucky enough to start that discussion with colorful artist such as Naqee.
Naqee can be found all over the city creating his paintings or you can find him digitally on his website here