“Tranquil Silence #5” by KEF!

The very best of international street art is coming to the Coachella Valley.

CODA Gallery in Palm Desert is hosting Burner: The Exhibition, a touring art show featuring urban artists from all over the world, with works from notable creatives like Banksy, Dalek, KEF! and others; some of the art will be for sale.

After a special opening party on Friday, March 3, Burner will be open and free to attend through Friday, March 24.

German street artist KEF!, aka Simon Rohlen, will be at the opening party and at artist receptions on Saturday and Sunday, March 4 and 5. During a recent interview conducted via email (after several attempts at digital interviews failed due to a bad internet connection), Rohlen said he was happy to be a part of Burner.

“There are great artists involved,” Rohlen said. “Since it travels around, I think it’s a great opportunity for many people to enjoy the pieces which are displayed.”

He said he loves being able to interact with audiences who are interacting with his art.

“It’s always very interesting to be in person at openings, and I observe how the visitors react to my work,” Rohlen said. “Since my work is about harmony and balance, it makes me happy to hear that people get these kinds of feelings by looking at it. Sometimes I get asked what the viewer should see, so my answer is always just to let go of any imagination. We automatically try to connect to something that we see in the materialistic world, so for me, it’s important to let go and just feel the work. I also often get asked about my process, how I manage to have so much patience. … (Audience interaction) keeps me going forward in my mission to spread harmony. It motivates me that people receive it in this way, and I can influence life in a positive way.”

Rohlen said he prefers solo shows, so “he can play around with the space” and invite visitors into his world—but that’s not to say he doesn’t appreciate group shows.

“Group shows are very good to give visitors an insight into my universe,” he said.

“Harmonius Escape #14” by KEF!

The ability to explore expression to the maximum is what drew Rohlen to street art in the first place.

“I started with graffiti, and a short time after, I got in touch with urban art,” Rohlen said. “It was more underground back then. I was fascinated by expressing yourself in the streets through characters and logos instead of just lettering, so I dived more into it and started to spread my work in the streets of many cities. I think the feeling of being free in my expression and (having) no rule of colors really drew me into it.”

KEF! said his messages of harmony and balance are badly needed right now.

“I think the world is in chaos—and we urgently need more harmony,” Rohlen said. “For me, it’s bigger than my artistic approach; I think it’s my mission to (promote) that with my whole being.”

Rohlen has seen how his art can be a positive in people’s lives.

“I got a message from someone telling me that she has trouble with anxiety,” Rohlen said. “To calm down, she sits in front of one of my screen prints she has. Another person told me that she uses my work with her therapist to overcome her problems in life. There are many examples of how people could get more balance, and that’s such a great response.”

Rohlen said he strives to give his art his all.

“The focus was never really a career, money, etc.,” he said. “It was just doing what I love to do.”

Burner: The Exhibition will open with a party at 4 p.m., Friday, March 3, and continue on display through Friday, March 24, at CODA Gallery, 73400 El Paseo, No. B-1, in Palm Desert. KEF! Will also be at receptions at 1 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, March 4 and 5. For more information, call 760-346-4661, or visit www.codagallery.com.

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Matt King

Matt King is a freelance writer for the Coachella Valley Independent. A creative at heart, his love for music thrust him into the world of journalism at 17 years old, and he hasn't looked back. Before...

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