It has been said that the eye is the window to the soul. Truer words have never been spoken when we talk about the art of the Miami artist, Ahol Sniffs Glue. The South Florida native is best known for his soaring urban murals depicting expansive fields of drowsy eyes, reflecting his unique vision of life, labor and unrequited love of the mean streets of Miami.
Ahol started on a path toward art-world notoriety with persistent sketches in his notebooks. Drawing inspiration from the urban environment and systems of society which dehumanize its inhabitants, Ahol maintains that his eyes tell the story of Miami’s hardest-working people. "I used to draw these whole civilizations of characters. One day, I just decided to take their eyes and make a pattern out of it".
His deceptively simple, yet complex renderings portray the veneer of our everyday surroundings and societal issues that contribute to the struggle of “everyday regular people.” The eyes were enough to to show case the feelings of the every day person, the emotions of the everyday person, the stress of the everyday person, the problems and struggles of the everyday person. But with all the struggles that the every day person endures, the eyes also show the the joy of the everyday person. “The eyes tell all, they tear up and droop when sad, and light up when excited and happy. You can tell a lot about a person by looking into their eyes”.
One particular issue the artist feels greatly impacts people’s lives, is the dull, job-related conflicts often encountered in a dysfunctional workplace. “I am inspired by the average person who gets up every day and hustles. Whether it’s to feed a family or feed a passion. Many people are stuck in a job or work place, not by their own choice, but because they need that job in order to live, pay their bills, and put food on the table to feed their family. They are not necessarily happy with their job. This effects their personal lives, and their family’s lives. Economic hardships impact too many good, decent, hard working people. My art salutes and praises their efforts. I am one of those people, and my art keeps me connected to the everyday regular person who gets out there, does their job, and hustles”.
Thus, in keeping with the true concept of street art, and the street artist's before him like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ahol’s paintings are not only a representation of a society, but also have a narrative characteristic and quality to them. Street artists of the past, and artist’s of today like Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and Retna, not only dealt with the many issues that effect the societies of the world, but also pour their private struggles into their art as well. Their art not only tackles political issues, economic issues, social issues, and every day issues that people face in their lives, but also expressed their own life struggles. Haring dealt with his issues of AIDS in his work. Basquiat painted about race, and drugs. Retna pours out his emotions through words on the canvas. Fariey focused on his delivery of his message as the medium. Ahol's work deals with his daily life of not just the hardships, but of the city he loves and calls home.
"Miami’s rich and complex tapestry of contrasting cultures, its pitch-perfect blend of diverse music and languages one can tune into on any street corner, and the lush tropical landscape and beaches that surround us are all fertile ground for the imagination. You can say that the clockwork of my city, both the good and the bad is what most inspires me".
His series “Biscayne World” explores the highs and lows of the city, it’s people, it’s night life, it’s drug scene, it’s glamour, it’s grittiness, and it’s latin culture. He takes the viewer on a roller coaster bus ride from South Beach to Little Havana, and Hialeah. Whether it is a music mogul at a club or a local eating a croquetta in a Cuban restaurant, Ahol’s work tells the story of Ahol, the city where he grew up, and the trials and tribulations of the people of Miami. "It is an observance of the real Miami (and its peoples) otherwise hidden beneath the magic and disco dust that sweeps through the city".
In his newest work, Ahol takes his eyes to a whole other dimension. The work is more abstract expressionistic. Much like the work of Pollock or Motherwell, the viewer can feel the emotions that are poured into these new works. "The first work that I ever painted in this style was right after my ex girlfriend and I split up. That same week, my dog died. I just grabbed a brush, and started to paint. I felt like my world was just turned upside down". This new work shows exactly that.
Along with this new style, Ahol experimented with a new medium. He stated expanding his technique by using pastels, and charcoals. The charcoals provide different textures, different line widths. Some are harder, some are softer. By combining all these different types of charcoals and colors, the artist becomes more personal with the work. This new style is perhaps his most intimate work to date.
Ahol's work can be seen publicly throughout the streets of Miami. Countless murals of eyes adorn the city of Miami, and the buildings that inhabit the Magic City. One of the first iconic murals, painted by Ahol is a hypnotic expanse of sleepy eyes on the side of the Martin Margulies Art Collection warehouse facing I-95. The work draws the eyes of thousands of drivers every day. It is now part of the Margulies permanent collection.