Street artist Sonny set for first gallery exhibit

Not every story takes us up to a Lower East Side rooftop. But to see the detail in a mural titled New York Lion, this where you want to be.

"I brush a lot with the animal furs," said Sonny, 31, the South African artist behind the painting. "Mix a lot of colors—in the hundreds."

Sonny used more than 350 colors to create the 1,000-square-foot mural on Allen Street in just six hot days last summer. Some days he worked 16 hours.

Using a computer, Sonny creates the art, sketches it onto the wall, and then brings it to life using spray paint and fine brushes, all while standing on a crane. He said he starts to ache after a few days.

Sonny has featured endangered animals in 10 different murals around the world. He'll be painting two more while in New York—one at a building in the West Village and the other outside of 393 Broadway, which houses the gallery that will host his first exhibition, To the Bone.

"I'm taking my street art into the gallery, quite literally—I've got a mural outside and it's going to go straight into the gallery," Sonny said.

His paintings and sculptures will be on display May 17–19 at 393 NYC. Part of the proceeds will go to Project C.A.T., a group aimed at doubling the number of tigers in the world by 2022.

"I'm raising awareness for animal conservation," Sonny said, adding that the imagery in his work shows the intricate link between humans and animals.