The meaning behind ‘The Koi Fish’.
This is perhaps the blog people have asked me to write the most. A lot of people ask me what ‘The Koi Fish’ means, why I chose to use that name and why it is so important to me. First of all, I don’t feel like it was conscious, more of a thing that chose me? I know how corny and cliché that sounds, but it’s true when I say that it really grew on me. When I drew my first Koi Fish, it was for a client in Kortrijk, who wanted me to paint one of their old building sites in Brussels. At the time I wasn’t very good at graffiti yet, so I had a limited range of objects I could draw. As a sketch for the project I drew my first ever Koi Fish, straight from an illustration I found online. That’s where the proverbial ball started rolling I guess, The Koi Fish was born.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this was back in 2015. It would take two more years for me to adapt the alter-ego ‘The Koi Fish’ and really build the style, the philosophy, the persona that it is today. It will probably take decades more to figure out where I am going. In 2015 I moved to Shanghai to study but ended up painting more graffiti than I had ever before. Together with my crew, the 12 Monkeys, we started a movement within the Shanghai graffiti scene to explore abandoned buildings and transform them into portals to creative, expressive new dimensions. To this day, this is where I think graffiti really could exist in it’s purest form. It is in these days and nights, that I started painting Koi Fish everywhere in Shanghai, with the idea that people would see these graceful animals swimming around a very rough and ‘ugly’ urban environment. Alongside the Kois I would paint water patterns, which would later evolve in the swirls that are now the main symbol of my style. A good example of this is the blue water I did in the Days of Ruin video.
After I came back from China, it was hard to adjust. There was no space for graffiti like I was used to now in Shanghai. Realising how much I missed the urban exploring, the climbing, the crew, the freedom, I also started realising how the Koi Fish to me had become the ultimate symbol of swimming freely and exploring. Following life’s flow.
I guess The Koi Fish has become the symbol of a period in my life where I finally felt free, felt confident and felt like it was okay and exciting to let change happen, to let life take its course. This is, in the end, what I also want to share within my art. I have a passion for life, a curiosity to explore, a desire to ‘poke the bear’, to provoke coincidence. Whatever life may bring me in the future, I know I’ll be eager to experience it.