“The English language isn’t much, especially in its current state,” the pioneering aerosol artist PHASE 2 is quoted as saying in a 1997 article with Raw Vision. “By comparison (to Chinese and Japanese) it’s like a dot. Why not go beyond that and just create an alphabet or language?”

PHASE 2 passed away from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on December 12, 2019, but even in his last days, when he was battling this disease from a hospital bed in the Bronx, New York, he maintained this penchant for deconstructing the English alphabet, from its stale and uniform structure into a complex system of script all his own. Despite losing energy in his more dominant right hand, he gathered blank pieces of paper and began drafting new styles and symbols using his left hand. This collection of drawings is now being featured in a 6” x 9” hardcover book, serving as a testament to the pioneering artists’ seemingly endless drive to create.

The book also features images of letters transformed into otherworldly creatures, constellations of piercing eyes, various forms of fish, and silhouettes of his profile. All of these images held deep symbolic meaning for him and reflected a profound sense of introspection during his final months. For instance, the numerous drawings of fish in the book seem to be connected to the early Christian ichthys (“sign of the fish”) symbol, which is itself made up of Greek letters combined to represent a secret acronym. The drawings are also signed under the moniker “PRAFODIVI,” from which the book takes its title, but whose meaning remains undisclosed.  

Alongside each of these images and symbols are also a series of poetic passages that PHASE 2 penned, articulating his thoughts, insights, and life experiences. As much as he constantly reinvented himself and championed evolution through his art, PHASE 2 also coupled this with an equally strong concern for historical accuracy and maintaining respect for the principles of the writing movement. This comes across in his poems, which feature numerous denunciations of the so-called “experts” and “authorities” who he saw as compromising the integrity of the artform and culture. There are also several passages featuring words of wisdom, music and movie listings, dedications to influential people in his life, and witty battle rhymes and creative wordplay strewn throughout the text.

More remarkable than the content of the book, however, is the conditions in which it was all produced. Whereas most people would resign in the face of the hospitalization and bodily weakness brought on by ALS, PHASE 2 wrote habitually in this state, developing wholly new styles and reformulating old ones. And most of these works were penned in one-shot, with just a black ink pen, some white pieces of paper, and his lap as his desk. In this context, the following motto featured in the collection was one he demonstrably lived by to the very end: “WHERE THERE IS NOTHING, CREATE SOMETHING.”

PRAFODIVI: The Final Writings of P.H.A.S.E. 2, is published independently and currently available at www.PRAFODIVI.com.

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