Art Crush: Atiba Jefferson’s Heart Shaped Box at HVW8 Gallery

Los Angeles is a city fueled by the hustle of millions of artists and creatives, yet true originality often feels like a diamond in the rough, an elusive lightning bolt of inspiration amidst a sea of curated content. Photographer and skateboarder Atiba Jefferson is one of the rare ones, a visionary whose keen eye and laid back style results in work that crackles with a fresh and free spirit.

Jefferson, who considers himself a skater first and a photographer second, has been creating iconic portraits, action shots, and cityscapes for the past twenty years, building a diverse portfolio that remains rooted in the raw and authentic signature style that has brought him international recognition and commercial success. He began his career documenting the grit and movement of the skateboard scene, but his ability to draw a unique and intriguing energy out of both his portraits and action shots allowed him to cross over into other realms of interest, namely basketball and music (Drake, Pharrell, and the late Dylan Rieder have been in front of his lens, to name a few).

His latest show, Heart-Shaped Box, which is sponsored by Adidas Originals and on display at HVW8 Gallery through July 15th, is an immersive and interactive exhibition that embodies Jefferson’s instinctive talent and continually evolving originality. Spotlighting his iconic portraits, action shots, and cityscapes, the exhibit allows the viewer to interact with his eclectic portfolio in a unique way: each photograph is displayed on one side of four large-scale light box cubes, illuminating the larger than life personalities of his subjects and fluid sense of movement in his work.

Each cube is eight feet tall and lit from within, stark and sublime against the entirely black-painted gallery, paying homage to Jefferson’s masterful use of light in his compositions. The exhibit allows you to see his iconic and well-known photographs in a literal new light, and witness the way they take on new meanings when viewed from different perspectives. As you move through the exhibit, confronted by Jefferson’s powerful work on a large scale, his unique vision and well-honed ability to capture the complex and defiant energy of his subjects comes through loud and clear.

“This collection of photos is how I view photography,” says Jefferson. “I like things to be different—from my lighting, format, angles and the same goes for my subjects. It’s not just skateboarding, it’s not just music, it’s not just people. It’s all the things I love.”

Catch Heart Shaped Box at HVW8 Gallery (5416 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90036) through July 15th.

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