Alice Chen

An elusive artist



From the Philadelphia Inquirer online edition, September 10, 2011

FuMEko, Self Portrait, oil on canvasAn exhibition of the works of the artist known only as FuMEko will open tonight at PhilaMOCA (531 N. 12th St.), the first time the artist’s work has ever been collected and shown. FuMEko’s paintings have been appearing throughout Philadelphia over the last two years, left in public spaces for anyone to pick up. Primarily oil on canvas, the pieces are characterized by their detailed and evocative depictions of bizarre creatures and scenery, and are often very dark in tone. Comparisons to Heironymus Bosch, Salvador Dali, and Banksy are already beginning to appear on internet discussion forums.

“We are extremely proud to be presenting FuMEko’s art in a gallery setting for the first time,” said Eric Bresler, PhilaMOCA’s art director and curator. “Though we do not know who this artist is, we do know that his artwork is some of the most captivating we’ve seen in years.”

Bresler admitted that he had “no way of knowing for sure” whether FuMEko is male or female, but he says, “I say ‘he’ because the person pictured in his ‘Self Portrait’ appears to be male.”

Some have raised concerns over the potential for copyright lawsuits, but Bresler says he would welcome the idea of FuMEko coming forward to claim ownership of the art. If that situation were to arise, Bresler says that PhilaMOCA would “gladly comply with any requests he made.”

The pieces appear in the gallery courtesy of their respective owners, all of whom responded to calls put out by PhilaMOCA to collect the works. Some come from Bresler’s personal collection, including one that he found on a walk through Fitler Square one evening in June of last year.

“I was just so struck by the atmosphere of [the piece]. It was such a small painting, but had this amazing scale to it, like it was just one part of a whole world this person has imagined. It was very dark and dangerous. I had already begun to hear things here and there about this FuMEko artist who was just leaving his stuff around the city. I couldn’t believe I had actually found one myself. I feel incredibly fortunate.”

The exhibit at PhilaMOCA runs through the end of October, with a special Halloween event planned to showcase the gothic style of the pieces. Tickets for tonight’s opening event are $15. Gallery hours are by appointment.

This article appears in print in the Saturday Arts section, page C5

Alice Chen

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