Gen Atem (a.k.a. Gen-U-One) was born in Switzerland and has been working as an artist since 1982. He is a pioneer of the European Urban Art-Movement. In the early eighties he was active as a DJ and Break Dancer. In 1982 he begun spraying graffities on subway cars and walls in public spaces. In the mid-eighties he worked as an artist in New York and got acquainted with Old School Graffiti legends Phase Two, Futura, Noc167, Dondie, Seen and Rammellzee. Rammellzee became his mentor and they had an intense collaboration from 1986 till 1994. During that time, together with Rammellzee, Gen Atem realized several art-performances and exhibitions in New York and Amsterdam.
The New York Graffiti style «Name Writing» was not only a multimedia subcultural action but also an intellectual examination: What does a name and the history of a name stand for, and how does identity change in the course of time? Gen Atem found important answers to these questions in the philosophical writings of the eastern culture. The term «Nama Rupa», which translates to «Name and Form» stands for an umbrella term that embraces a multitude of works that are concerned with topics such as Spirit, Identity, Appearance, Form and Emptiness. Gen Atem entered a Buddhist monastery and became a Zen monk. His style of the Name Writing was influenced during these years by the Japanese calligraphy and aesthetics.
Gen Atem designates his work today as «Meditated Vandalism». He has had numerous exhibitions and art-performances in New York, Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich, Istanbul and Tokyo. Further has he published a book with the title «The Four Noble Truths, An Introduction To Buddhist Philosophy And Meditation». Gen Atem founded and is heading the artist groups «Wild Writers» and «Attacking Vandalism Criminals». In 2014 his music solo album «Not Here» was released and a 25 minutes documentary about his work was broadcast on Swiss television. Gen Atem lives and works as an artist and Zen teacher in Zurich, Switzerland.