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#QueerQuote: ”What Does Growing Up Mean? Compromising My Principles?” – John Tsombikos

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John Tsombikos, aka BORF, is both a street artist and a gallery artist. He pours his heart into tagging and painting, addressing what he sees as the alienation of modern life and culture, and, of course, the sad status quo of adulthood. His career began out of anguish over his best friend’s suicide. Adopting his friend’s nickname, BORF, he bombed the walls of Washington, D.C. with statements like, ”grownups are obsolete”, until his arrest.

He was sentenced to 18 months in jail, plus hundreds of hours of community service, fines, and years of supervision. At his sentencing, the judge said:

“You profess to despise rich people. You profess to despise the faceless, nameless forms of government that oppress. That’s what you’ve become. That’s what you are. You’re a rich kid who comes into Washington and defaces property because you feel like it. It’s not fair. It’s not right.”

The end of his probation coincided with his graduation from art school, where he developed an appreciation for painting, especially the work of Mark Rothko. Tsombikos pays homage in his Rothko’s Modern Life series.

Tsombikos has exhibited works internationally. He draws and paints things addressing the cause / effect relationship between the despondency of his generation and the poverty of modern life, all while humorously searching for a transcendent buoyancy.

Asked how he has grown up, Tsombikos is not willing to say that he has. ”What does growing up mean? Compromising my principles?” And that’s your answer.


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