Kai RAWS Imhof's artistic career began in 2004 when he was working as a graffiti writer on the streets. He used to paint tags on the walls in his area during his early days as a sprayer. He opted to concentrate on the creative part of graffiti writing in 2008. He became a well-known artist in the international graffiti scene by painting high-end multicolored pieces throughout time.
He worked with the history of fine arts when he first began his graphic design education. Movements like Bauhaus and Blauer Reiter, as well as artists like Kandinsky, Richter, and Picasso, influenced his art by forcing him to reconsider his own standards and viewpoints. He is currently merging his devotion to clean graphics, layout, and arrangement with a classic graffiti style.
Kai, the title of your edition is RISING SUN. What associations do you have with the rising sun?
A cheerful and warm emotion is symbolized by the rising sun. At the same time, it represents the start and is thus a symbol for motivation and enthusiasm. Concentrating on something original, like the sun, feels pleasant, especially in these hurried and crazy times we live in. Warmth, love, and light provide us with the energy and power we need to accomplish great things. This spirit is something I'd like to bring into people's homes.
How would you sum up your art in three words?
Graphic. Powerful. Dynamic.
You started your career as a graffiti writer, you painted tags on walls in your neighborhood. How did you experience your first steps in the art world?
It happened naturally and wasn't coerced in any way. After a lengthy period of painting traditional graffiti, I began to research the definition of graffiti. I wanted to explore the entire creative spectrum, so I started limiting my work to the most basic elements of urban art: the spraycan. In this backdrop, I developed my first RISING SUN in 2019. As a result, I entirely removed inscriptions, elements, and lines to see if the resulting artworks were still graffiti. My paintings got increasingly abstract as a result of these new approaches and the reduction to entirely minimalistic forms.
In addition, the medium of canvas had a larger role in my work, attracting the attention of galleries and art fans. In 2019, I was fortunate to put on my first major solo show at Urban Spree Gallery, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Some people liked my reductionist approach, but others didn't enjoy how I broke the standard graffiti guidelines in a gallery setting. This tension was what drove me to keep going at this point, but also to ask new questions.
Following the completion of this first major exhibition, I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in a number of group exhibitions across Europe, allowing me to stage a second solo exhibition in Leipzig (x23 Gallery) in 2020 and my first international duo exhibition in Paris (Artcan Gallery) in 2021. At the moment, I'm ecstatic about the growing interest in the art world, and I'm looking forward to upcoming projects and shows.
Is your background in street art the reason for your artist name RAWS? What does it stand for?
Adopting a pseudonym is an important aspect of the graffiti movement. Because it would be more than reckless to paint your civil name in public. There are graffiti names that have no meaning, contrary to popular belief. This is also true of myself. I simply chose my favorite letters and shifted them back and forth until I came up with an intriguing and appealing phrase. Raws is simple to paint and, in my opinion, has a powerful tone.
You have more than 100,000 followers on Instagram. What is your secret to success on Instagram?
Instagram has evolved into a virtual portfolio of my work that can be viewed from anywhere on the planet. That excites me tremendously. Even though I do a lot of my work on Instagram, I wouldn't call myself an Instagram artist. I also wouldn't call myself an Instagram specialist because my artist identity grew in the graffiti area long before Instagram and co – I've been painting since 2004.
Nonetheless, I believe I have a general understanding of what works on social media: the three most crucial pillars in this context for me are authenticity, quantity, and quality. Many musicians form personal relationships with their fans and form genuine bonds with them. I'm often torn between the algorithm's desire for a large number of posts and my desire to focus on the creative process without always worrying about Instagram.
What are the three unexpected facts you would like people to know about you?
1 My graffiti can be found in the virtual cityscape of the official Playstation 4 and 5 Marvel's SPIDER-MAN games.
2 I once recorded a rap track.
3 My greatest ambition is to exhibit my work at a museum.
What is the one rule you always stick to when making artistic decisions?
The most important rule for me is to listen to my gut feeling, even if it sounds completely uninteresting. I used to think too much about my paintings. The images are alive and fascinating because of the spontaneity and even little mistakes.
Kai RAWS Imhof will drop RISING SUN in a limited edition exclusively on misa.art, it will be available for 24 hours. Click HERE to learn more about the 24 HOUR EDITION DROP: 11-12 NOVEMBER 2021, 6 PM – 6 PM CEST. Each canvas is hand-painted, signed, and comes with a certificate – it is a unique and original piece of art.
Every collector of the RISING SUN can experience it in virtual space. Together with the Looping Lovers, Imhof created an augmented reality version of the RISING SUN. By scanning the QR-code on the certificate, you can enter a new dimension and take the RISING SUN with you to every place in the world.