Who is ‘Solve’?

Walking around my neighborhood in Chicago, you see a lot of graffiti. And while I don’t approve of vandalizing public property, I do have to say some of the graffiti around here is pretty interesting from an artistic standpoint. Time Out Chicago has published an article about the graffiti artist who works under the pseudonym The Viking. I’ve seen that artist’s stickers around here, but I’ve also noticed numerous pieces of graffiti with the word “SOLVE” near them – which I assume is the artist’s identity, or maybe the theme of his or her artwork.

Some of these show an image (see above) of a face with a cross running over it, with a couple of hands below that.

Others show the iconic mug shot of Al Qaeda terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was arrested with a bad case of bed head. Interestingly, a short time after I first noticed these particular pictures, Mohammed was back in the news, when President Bush announced he was being transferred from one of those mysterious secret CIA prisons to good old Gitmo.

I’m not sure what Solve is trying to say with these pictures – some of it is standard anti-establishment imagery, but some of it’s quirkier and more interesting than that. Sometime after the Mohammed pictures appeared, a series of round stickers with simple images in black popped up all around the area. I am not sure if these are by the same artist, but I’m guessing they are.

Then, in perhaps his most outrageous violation of anti-graffiti laws yet, Solve painted an entire street-light control box lime green with pink polka dots — along with the signature “SOLVE.”