Jim Avignon

Jim Avignon’s art often casts a critical gaze upon human inequality and injustice.

Jim Avignon is one of the most unusual and extraordinary figures working in the contemporary German art scene. His multiple personalities, whether painter, musician, performer, organizer or curator have forged Avignon’s modus operandi, as well as keeping him on his toes each day. He currently resides in Berlin, but usually he is active somewhere around the world, rarely where one would assume.

His painting output is very high: Avignon calls himself—with a grain of salt—the “fastest painter in the world” and often sets up an exhibition within a matter of days. His paintings are a mash-up of cartoonish figuration, expressionist composition and dominantly featured titles—always in line with the mantra, “a maximum of expression with a minimum of lines.” His paintings reflect the Zeitgeist’s fast pace and criticize inequality and social injustice, though not without dark humor. While some of his works are already part of larger collections and museums, Avignon still prefers to exhibit in clubs, bars or on the street. Avignon loves to set the art world on its head. In the early 1990s he provoked the elitist art market with his deliberately low-priced art. Later, his live painting sessions in clubs preempted styles and attitudes found in street art. As a musician, he goes under the alias, “Neoangin”. The form and content of his music reflects that of his paintings.

Every artist has a story to tell, and in the context of what we've been building with Metawalls, Jim Avignon's is very special...

METAWALLS is beyond excited to proudly be able to present to you this fascinating piece of Berlin art history, stretching back over 30 years. Working closely with Jim we are presenting ‘Doin it cool for the East Side II’ as the very first CO-NFT. This iconic artwork will be fractionalised into a total 780 shares. 

What makes this piece so special for us is that it highlights perfectly the utility of NFT's in maintaining an artists' control over their work. Jim's participation is hard-coded in, and he will forever be compensated for any sale of the work. METAWALLS was an idea conceived of the desire to give back to artists the control of their work, the rights to which have been gradually eroded over time...

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the world celebrated a historical event that signified a collective 'coming together'. It was a powerful moment, filled with scenes of euphoria at the falling of the wall.

In the year following, artists from around the world were invited to paint the wall as a memorial to its falling. As one of the artists taking part, Avignon painted his striking ‘Doin it cool for the East Side’, depicting a scene of euphoric chaos at the border. The following year the memorial would be granted historical status, in the hope of preserving its significance for the people of Berlin.

But this wasn't the end of the story...

It soon became clear that the wall was not being cared for by the appointed officials for the city of Berlin, and very quickly the wall either fell into disrepair, or was demolished to make way for construction projects. It also became clear that the participating artists had no say in the image rights of their work, watching from the sidelines as an industry of souvenirs profited from their gifts to the city.

As Jim's frustrations grew, he in 1991 returned to his original mural and painted over a single word in protest... 'Moneymachine'. This was a personal statement being made on the commercial concerns being afforded greater importance than the communities living within the reaches of the wall. The artworks were eroding, and the surrounding areas were being filled with apartments priced beyond the reach of most citizens.

There's a complex history attached to the wall in the following years, with artists, developers, and the city officials never quite agreeing upon how to preserve it. Artworks were voluntarily restored in 1996, 1998, and once again in 2000. This was done for the most part by artists who themselves were willing to remain unpaid for their restoration. In 2009 a further initiative was this time funded by the National Lottery and German government, with artists formally agreeing to restore the work at any time in the future.

On each occasion Jim Avignon had boldly declined to take part in any restoration of his work, feeling that this was not contributing to a true representation of what was happening at the East Side Gallery memorial. He was in fierce disagreement that the images should be 'preserved at all costs' without his consent. This was a polarising issue because it highlighted the issue of an artists' participation in the future use of their work.

Fast forward to 2013, and Jim again took it upon himself to make another statement on behalf of the people of Berlin. This time with the aid of a Flashmob, Jim arrived at the original mural with a new plan, and just in case, a letter from the Berlin Wall Foundation requesting Jim's restoration of his original work. When the local Police arrived asking him what he was up to, Jim gladly presented the letter and was allowed to continue. What the Police hadn't noticed was that this was a letter from 2009, and now instead of restoring the original, Jim was here to create a new mural...

That mural became the new ‘Doin it cool for the East Side’, an updated version of the original, depicting the economic forces affecting local residents, and the city of Berlin. Rather than reinforce an image that no longer felt relevant to the surrounding neighbourhood, Jim had created something that was being felt by all who lived there. After more than twenty years had passed, the city was not the same.


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