Despite numerous social and economic restraints, the 1980s New York was a melting pot that birthed a new generation of artists that changed art history. One of them is Angel Ortiz, better known as LA II, who was a lasting collaborator and creative partner of Keith Haring.

Throughout the decades, he has built a graffiti-based oeuvre primarily under the influence of fluctuations across the 1980s, strongly influencing generations of artists. The artist has now returned to the scene with a new solo show titled King of Hearts, currently on view at D’Stassi Art in London under the title King of Hearts.

Left: Angel Ortiz Headshot / Right: Angel Ortiz - Dancing Queen, 2022. Acrylic and paintmarker on canvas, 24 x 24 in

The Domains of Angel Ortiz

Keith Haring discovered the Puerto Rican street artist at the age of 12. Arriving fresh from the Pennsylvania suburbs, Haring stumbled upon Ortiz's Little Angel tag on a New York City Street, and invited him to collaborate. The two established a lasting liaison, eventually allowing LA II to make a name for himself. It was LA II who secured Haring access to the city’s pulsating street art scene through The Non-Stoppers (TNS), the largest street art crew active at the time on the Lower East Side.

The feeling of brotherhood, mutual support, and admiration informed their relationship and led them to their first collaboration; they tagged a yellow NYC taxi, sold the work for $1,400, and evenly shared the proceeds between them. Throughout the 1980s, LA II and Keith Haring used their signatures to produce murals, sculptures, train paintings, and objects.

LA II’s technique had a major influence on Haring’s signature style from then onwards. At the age of 16, LA II dropped out of high school and traveled the world with Haring between 1983 and 1985. The two men collaborated in solidarity by unifying their creativity and creating the most iconic works to exist in the contemporary art market.

Angel Ortiz - Wizardry, 2022. Acrylic on canvas 60 x 72 in

The New Works

The body of work presented in King of Hearts is inspired by the artist’s past collaborations. By merging the spray can, ink marker, and paint, LA II recalled his techniques in the 1980s and 1990s. The starting point for the new series was his archive. In fact, he practically transformed some of his early works to evoke a new meaning and reaffirm the original movement by painting arrows in their latest iteration.

Left: Angel Ortiz - Corazon, 2022. Paintmarker and spray paint on canvas, 48 x 48 in. / Right: Angel Ortiz - Dance Party, 2022. Paintmarker and spray paint on canvas, 48 x 48 in

Angel Ortiz at D’Stassi Art

This show is Ortiz’s first in the UK in over 40 years, and as such, it tends to tell a story of leaving the past behind and standing still in the present.

King of Hearts will be on view at D’Stassi Art in London until October 28th, 2022.

Featured images: Angel Ortiz - Dealer’s Choice, 2022. Acrylic, paintmarker and spray paint on canvas, 60 x 72 in. All images courtesy D’Stassi Art.