A film school undergrad project, Brad Downey’s feted documentary on street art, Public Discourse, helped birth and frame an unusual hybrid vision of artistry for the Berlin-based, American artist.

Now known for his “spontaneous sculptures” and independent public art, his street sensibilities are steeped in art historical references. Sometimes his work manifests only as minute gestures—a plastic bottle placed to signify genitalia on an Antony Gormley figure, for instance—at others it’s overly conspicuous—as when he used a fire extinguisher to paint the 100 meter storefront of Berlin’s KaDeWe department store green, a commission in ‘honor’ of Lacoste’s 75th anniversary that the clothing brand came to regret. While the prankster element is clear, Downey also regularly operates on the subtle level of subverting the quotidian in a way that many passers-by may not even notice.There is often a sense of order (or disorder, depending on your point of view)—especially in the collection of public barricades and arranging them just so—and humor through visual puns or a celebration of the absurd. And while he’s received a number of shows, commissions, and awards, his most affecting work bears no sign of an institution, and sometimes even remains completely undetected.