In March of 2014, Nevada City artist and skateboarder, Tahiti Perhson, traveled to South Africa for a solo art show where he connected with long time skateboarding friends.
Interview by Adrian Day
A few years ago, Rudi Jeggle was telling me about a friend of his in Northern California who was this amazing artist. He put us in touch and before I knew it he had done three graphics for Familia. Fast forward a few months and I was hanging out with Tahiti and his friends in Grass Valley and Nevada City, skating burly pools and hitting karaoke jams. More than anything I was highly inspired by Tahiti and his like-minded people. Ultimately it was this broad interaction of art, on every level, that I found to be a motivator. A sort of carpe diem approach to music, skating, painting, whatever… I came back to SA and started making music. Pretty much because of the trip. Years ago we started talking about getting him down to SA to have an exhibition, and in 2014, Tahiti is having a solo show at Salon 91. Accompanying him is David Nicholson, a filmmaker who is documenting the trip which will be screened later in the year at the Nevada City Film Festival.
Tahiti is about the funniest and mellowest dude out, and his artistic virtuosity blows my mind every time I see it. The art in itself is a testament to his drive, dedication and artistic genius. Tahiti Pehrson’s show, Connectivity, has it’s opening at Salon 91 Wednesday 26th Feb at 18.30, and will be up until 22 March. Check the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/500683666715131. Do yourself a favour…
You’ve been here for a little over a week. Is Cape Town what you thought it would be?
I didn’t really know what to expect so I was pretty blown away. It can’t really be captured in photos. The clouds coming over Table Mountain – I can say I’ve really never seen anything like it.
Give us a brief skate history of yourself, beginnings, crews etc.
I grew up in Grass Valley in Northern California. I met Chris Senn in my second year of high school. I heard from a friend of mine that there was a dude who could do 360’s off a jump ramp every time. I had to see it myself. We started skating together a lot. Soon after he got hooked up on Powell so we would tag along on his Powell trips. My other close bro’s were on this company Trust Skateboards. Jason Clark, Genaro Vegoglini and Justin Smith. We lived in a car and just skated all the time. John Cardiel and Toad lived lived a couple minutes south of us so those guys would come blow our minds. John hooked me and another guy up on flow for Dogtown for like a year before it went under.
What would you say influenced the style you have become known for? Ie was it a natural evolution from stencil graffiti, or were there visual instances that triggered it all?
I was going to art school and it was just killing my inspiration, so I started painting in the streets. It was way more live and like skating. Plus I had a lot of experience ditching cops so it was it was pretty natural. That mentality got old after a while but the stencil idea kept evolving.
What is the process for one of your works?
It changes but in the last five years I have been into this really geometrical style. Those are made on a computer and more and more I have been drawing over the top of those… and even more now really organic stuff with no computers.
You told me your first board was a Blender, who had a large effect on skateboarders being artists etc. Did those early skate artists like Blender, Gonz, Miller etc play a role or sew seeds in your mind, or were you more interested broader artists?
Yeah man, super into those guys. I was into Salvador Dali and stuff like that too, but Blender, Gonz and Miller had this natural delivery and they lived their art. It wasn’t just a thing you produce it was a way of seeing and adapting so I took that with me.
How much does your mental state affect the designs of your work, if at all?
I’m kind of always positive. I used to be bummed or let myself fall into it but when my daughter was born I really started to stay on a positive mental path. It really works. It sounds trite but once I got into that headspace everything fell into place and the momentum started. So now it’s pretty easy to be stoked. I mean I’m in South Africa pursuing my first loves; skateboarding and art, so I can’t complain.
5 best things about Cape Town:
Skate community rules, natural beauty, supernatural beauty, the accent, wildlife, nightlife, Adrian Day, Instagramming.
5 best things about Nevada City:
Community, skate scene, good music, lazy vibe and you can get by on very little effort. The river there is banging in the summer. Good times.
Check out Tahiti’s work online at www.tahitipehrson.com
Lyracolos / 2013 / Hand-cut Paper / 100% Cotton Rag, Acid-free / 914mm x 914mm
Salon91 Contemporary Art Collection, Cape Town presents:
A Solo Show and First Exhibition in South Africa of Paper Artworks by Tahiti Pehrson
Wednesday 26 February – 22 March 2014
For as long as I can remember I have used art to define and document my experiences. We all start that way, some of us stop doing it at some point for better suited tools of expression. The inexactness of outcome always suited me and yet my work has evolved more and more towards exactness. In the process of cutting more and more detailed works I started to become aware of variation and indeed of repetition. Each shape morphing from square to diamond to triangle, and each variation leading to the next, all forming a larger fabric and pattern. A system connected. Our world is often defined by our differences rather than the reality of parts of a whole. I became interested in the things that make us the same. Even if art is reduced only to a visual experience, trying to create an experience that could both inspire and suggest a wide variety of narratives. The viewer is invited to tailor his/her own experience, and thus engaging personally. A person of faith may read and interpret religious or spiritual implications while a more scientifically minded individual could see Geometry yet both narratives describe a larger system encompassing a whole.
There is a tension, which exists between the apparent fragility of the medium played against the strength of connectivity in a radiant fabric of variation.
Formation / 2013 / Hand-cut Paper / 100% Cotton Rag, Acid-free / 508 x 508 mm
Tahiti Pehrson spent his early years without electricity growing up in a bohemian artist household in Northern California. Art was a mode of entertainment without television or music and long hours were spent in nature and drawing. Influenced by the burgeoning skateboarding and punk scene of the mid Nineteen-eighties and later engaging in the San Francisco street art and graffiti culture of the late Nineties. Traveling Europe and China in search of art enrichment and later attending the San Francisco Art Institute as a painting major, Pehrson left after a year and a half. A practice of stencil-making and street art evolved into a more and more detailed practice of paper cutting two and three-dimensional works.
Pehrson has been working and exhibiting in hand cut paper for the last fifteen years. Over the last five plus years his works have concentrated on highly detailed geometric patterns called Guilloche which date back to Classical Greek and Roman times, later to be perfected by the Rose Engine Lathe in France in the late 1700’s. Today these patterns can be seen on almost every currency in the world as well as hub cups watches and also seem to touch on the design sense intrinsic to nature. These highly detailed monochromatic works create with light and shadow a hypnotic field of Moire patterning.
With many intersections creating a larger fabric, themes in the work center around Connectivity, Systems, Variation and fragility.
Equis / 2013 / Hand-cut Paper / 100% Cotton Rag, Acid-free / 914mm x 914mm
Symbiosis / 2014 / Hand-cut Paper / 100% Cotton Rag, Acid-free / 508 x 508 mm
Salon91 Contemporary Art Collection
26 February – 22 March 2014
Opening Night Wednesday 26 February 2014 at 18h30. The exhibition concludes Sat 22/3/2014 at 2pm.
Tue – Fri: 10 am – 6pm; Sat: 10am – 2pm; Closed: Mondays & Sundays
Address: 91 Kloof Street, Cape Town