Josh Keyes’s Thoughtful Paintings of a Graffiti-Covered Earth

Josh Keyes‘ latest series features subjects both manmade and real, their common element being various layers of graffiti that cover a space shuttle, a whale’s tail and so on. For the last ten years, these signs had endured in the background of Keyes’ paintings, adding detail to the supporting elements of the environment rather than being blended into the subjects of his work.

For Keyes, the choice to place graffiti tags in the foreground questions our connection to the natural world, and what influence we are undeniably leaving on our planet. The iceberg, for example, is tagged with the words, “I’ll melt with you.” This message could be the voice of both the iceberg and the tagger, a signal that we will all be melting if we keep on desecrating the Earth.

“Are there things and places that graffiti should not be?” asked Keyes to Colossal. “Who is to say what surface is to be kept graffiti clean? My own concern is that this will be a reality some day and talks to a bigger issue of our relationship with the natural world. The satellite and space graffiti hints that even if we conquer other worlds, what mark will we leave? No matter where we go there is evidence of our behavior.”

Keyes’ will display his arts later this year at Thinkspace Gallery in LA. You can follow him on Instagram and his website.