After dislocating his shoulder for the 3rd time, doctors told London born artist, Lord K2, that he must refrain from contact sports. Although quite harrowing to hear, Lord K2 took on this period of placidity to develop some new, and ultimately gratifying hobbies. With a history of fine art exposure, an impressively stamped passport and dexterous hands, Lord K2 left behind his job in the stock market and began his professional career as a stencil-based street artist and photographer.
Having been familiarized with the fruits of travel, Lord K2 converted his opinion and knowledge of other regions into politically and emotionally induced public artwork. Originally, his street art skills were developed in Buenos Aires, where he spent the following two years before literally making his mark on New York. As a member of what I can't help but imagine to be a large, underground club composed of badass progressives, Lord K2 seems to bring something light to the street art table. It could be his affiliation with various cultures, or that his marks are far from vandalism and 'tags', that makes the artwork of Lord K2 gleam with importance and clarity. When choosing a "canvas", so to speak, standards are significant rather than based on visual prevalence.
"Physically, the wall has to be flat enough for my stencils. It's important for me that my art has a positive impact on viewers. I prefer to paint in dilapidated, aging areas so my art gains beauty with the wall. Of course I care about the aesthetics of it all, but I believe art can beneficially influence a community and I'm working to make that undeniable."
For now, street art is taking the back seat and documentary photography is the main focus. What started out as the habitual spreading of his artistic seed, if you will, became an evolving epiphany to capture the works of other street artists, like himself. Lord K2 continued on with a previously planned backpacking tour of Latin America, where his first port of call being Santiago, Chile, serendipitously became his last. The Chilean capital not only rattled Lord K2's perception, but it handed him a portal to a vastly unique urban art experience. His recently released book, "Street Art Santiago", documents this culturally significant and without a doubt, visually bewitching artistry found hugging the Andes. Taking over two years to complete due to its copious detail, the book contains over 80 artist interviews, giving well-deserved recognition to others members of this street art club.
"I went to Santiago and continuously thought, 'There is so much undocumented wealth in this colorful community'. Immediately, I knew I had to document this as a book. The Chilean street artists who contributed to my project, they deserve a book of such high calibre. In addition to all of the energy and craft put into it, they are the reason I can stick my neck out and call "Street Art Santiago" a masterpiece."
Because of his edifying experience with "Street Art Santiago", Lord K2 is continuing with photography and has started a new project encapsulating an important personal pastime and its participants. Currently, as he journeys through Thailand, he is photographing the athletes and understated grace of its national sport, Muay Thai. Muay Thai, which is essentially the Thai version of boxing, is a fanatical and physically vigorous sport that can be dated back to the mid 16th century. Seeing as Muay Thai is also called "the Art of Eight Limbs", because eight parts of the body are used during the fight, labeling the sport as "combative" is putting it mildly. And although with proper training and skill, these athletes can turn their body into a literal weapon, Muay Thai is undoubtedly an artform. As it usually goes, there is a criteria for analyzing art, like a cryptic checklist we keep floating around in our eye-sockets. We examine, we dissect. We try to grasp the history and the purpose, all the while appreciating its apparent and muted beauty. Lord K2 is unveiling the elegance of this often rough and rowdy sport.
"Westerners often have a misconception of Muay Thai. The violence, which is the first thing seen, is only a fraction of the picture. These guys are humble, gentle and unreservedly honorable. Usually the fighters begin training at a very young age and lead themselves into a position where they can support their families. It's a righteous career and a beautiful sport."
In Bangkok and Chiang Mai, over 60 Muay Thai events, 15 training camps and hundreds of fighters have been documented just within the last 6 months. Knowing the ropes of another country takes plenty of time and an adventurous spirit, but since Lord K2, himself, has trained in Muay Thai for years, including a few in Thailand, we can trust him to bring us the full experience. The incredibly raw nature of his photographs pushes you into the core of the fight so assertively, that you can feel chest muscles stretching as a fighter pulls back for a final blow. You can see pills of sweat rolling between each individual rib like butter melting down a stack of pancakes. And you can rethink everything you have ever known by catching a glimpse of an embroidered Winnie-the-Pooh in the corner of a female fighter's tank top.
You can buy Lord K2's book "Street Art Santiago" today, but you have to wait until 2017 to purchase his book on Muay Thai. You can check out the rest of his work on his website:
Photos courtesy of Lord K2