Whitehot Magazine

Phase 2 Myth Conception: A Survey 1972-2019 at ACA Galleries

Phase 2, Phase 2 Logo, 1974. Ink on Paper, 6 x 9 in.

Phase 2 Myth Conception: A Survey 1972-2019

ACA Galleries

April 1 through June 30, 2023


A lack of provision to a safe space is the secret ingredient to any subculture. You can see the legacy of Phase 2, who passed away on December 12, 2019, because he left behind a significant, yet unrecognized, contribution to art history. His influence on the current manifestation of graffiti art and hip-hop culture is evident. Phase 2 started with “softie” letter style filled with “drips, loops, arrows, heart and hump extensions, formatted bars, feet, and fuses, cloud backgrounds and other aesthetic elements.” These are now automatic choices and references that some people use to define and express themselves artistically. Now at another critical point in human history, we have uniquely gathered so much information that not long after Big Data first appeared, advances in quantum computing made it possible for artificial intelligence to disrupt the whole entire academic world. 

Before that, Phase 2 was already recognized by his peers as leader in the field. He was strictly self-taught and went unrecognized by major galleries until later in life. Always at the beat of the underground, Phase 2 has become part of American art history. Anyone with a smartphone can access the show, or information about it. ACA Gallery’s lead curator decided to display the work flatly against the wall, as part of an anti-canvas homage to the fact that Phase never stretched any of the work. When the public started to treat graffiti like a crime, Phase 2 was already one of many people of color who were gifted Bruce Lee during the 1980s. Phase 2 was underway with more figurative artwork over time, but he ultimately wanted to change the dialogue surrounding the art style. 

Phase 2, Samurai I.G.T. Ink and Collage on Paper, 17 x 22 in.

He wanted a completely different vernacular surrounding art made by the global majority. Phase 2 wildly expressed himself through a nonlinear progression throughout his career. In one moment, Phase obliterates the concept of a blank space and then recedes back into white space in a matter of months. ACA Gallery was first established in 1932 by Herman Baron and artists Stuart Davis and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. It has been consistently faithful to social realism. The family owned gallery is in a new direction that is not as historical but wants to make those connections work. Phase 2 aids this new mission by constantly evolving through “painting, assemblage, collage, sculpture, design, drawing, custom vinyl toys, etc.” He was one of the original “Hip-Hop” pioneers, due to his ability to forecast the next big it thing in fashion, music, dance and an assembly of party fliers. 

All throughout rap’s early greatest moments in history, Phase 2 was somewhere there, including the release of the 1982 record entitled “The Roxy”, produced by Material with GrandMixer DXT, "D.S.T.". His dance crew, Electrified Movement, invented styles The New York City Breakers, his own personal B-boy crew led him to THE EUROPE 1 sponsored first Hip Hop Tour, "NYC RAP." All throughout the tour he created art and worked as a DJ / MC. He derived even more ideas to create his next piece of visual art, communicating fun and excitement. He helped define “Hip-Hop” and make it popular in areas where it otherwise would not have been. Considering the factual lack of senior care for the pioneers who made our current present even real, the passage of recent laws against the greater majority of creative proves that self-expression is everything and all just by itself. 

Phase 2, Emblem Raja, ca. 2012 – 2015. Spray Paint on Canvas, 88 ½ x 72 in.

We, en masse, as human beings have used other human beings as a form of trade since the early beginnings of history. Whoever proclaims that such a thing is a lie is indeed in denial. The new wave of police brutality across the country isn’t that novel because anyone can see it as another manifestation of The Vandal Squad, a specialized unit of the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Just as aggressively enough, For a period of time, it was perfectly acceptable for the New York City police to “combat” the people who were on the street disgracing the neighborhoods. New York City was obviously not fully equipped or prepared to handle what was about to happen and what happened, and neither was society at large. It wasn’t a conflict of right and wrong. It was about having no other safe means of self-expression or identification. The Vandal Squad wore regular clothing to attack, rather than nurture, their own youth. 

How often do you hear of people reflecting that until 2006, the New York City Police created an integrated pattern of behavior that specifically targeted youth of color. New York City has yet to acknowledge and work towards resolving that. Disconnection between human beings and nature started a long time ago, despite the false realities that human beings create for themselves. Out of nowhere comes someone like Phase 2 who was also part of the International Graffiti Time Group, IGTimes, members also included Seen, Crash, Lee Quinones, and Lady Pink. Racial issues are the most obvious things standing in between all of us recognizing ethnicity and acknowledge that none of the definitions of race are adequate enough to describe how many people also want to contribute to, and participate in, revolution. Exhibitions, workshops, and competitions were some of the early origins where Phase 2 started off his career and oath to “artistic integrity and historical truth.” 

Phase 2, PALO, c. 2012. Paint Marker and Spray Paint on Canvas, 31 x 74 in.

His book, “Style: Writing from the Underground” subtitled “(R)evolution of Aerosol Linguistics” was published by IGTimes in 1996. Conceptual thinking made it possible for Phase 2 to work as a promoter of early hip-hop parties, showcasing his art alongside the music. ACA Galleries is fortunate enough to also be in transition, with the expansion of a new space that will offer viewers the prospect to see and explore more unseen work that could not fit in the main gallery. There was no hierarchy in terms of display, which is one of the first indicators of the first results of Cornell University’s commitment to Hip-Hop. The mission of their collection “is to collect and make accessible the historical artifacts of Hip Hop culture and to ensure their preservation for (the) future…” An amount of party and event flyers, artwork, photographs, books, magazines, and advertising, are only part of the beginning of the archive that aims to expresses all of the agencies, which surrounded the ability of minorities to create “epic poetry.” 

The team at Cornell works with living artists and other creators to preserve their contributions to this niche, yet very prominent section of art history. With 7,000 items, first donated in kind by author and collector Johan Kugelberg, this new exhibition is a five-decade examination of one of the defining architects of Hip-Hop and his original visual language, starting with a painting from 1973. His complete theory will always be lost because he purposely decided to provide no means of visual communications. Phase 2 left the art industry with most of his work uncategorized and unlabeled. Lettering and interlocking shapes developed into a style that demonstrated a deeper desire to challenge the commercialization of the art. Phase 2 generated a visual psychological challenge that still forces us all to question the validity of nepobabies within every creative industry. WM

Daryl Rashaan King

Daryl Rashaan King currently works as a Teaching Artist with Leap NYC; a Chef de Partie at CUT by Wolfgang Puck, The Four Seasons Tribeca; and the Vice President of the Asian American Film Lab. He is the founder/ principal of kokuoroi, a multidisciplinary creative studio. The studio focuses on problems derived from urban living, viewed through the perspective of King, a Brooklyn native. A graduate of Columbia University, who originally specialized in painting, some of King’s goals include obtaining both an M. Arch and an Expert Diploma in Culinary Arts. He would also like to pursue various art and design programs and to live abroad. King has already earned certificates from Parsons in Streetwear; completed part of the Sustainable Design Foundation at Pratt Institute; and volunteered in Cusco, Peru at the construction site of a new Lower School. His work has greatly evolved since taking an Information Architecture course focused on Future Cities, hosted by the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich. A former varsity wrestler, King has hopes of learning and practicing new martial arts. When he isn’t working, enjoying music, or playing video games, King’s focus is on the future.

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