ABOVE and Blek le Rat at White Walls

This should be interesting. White Walls is doing two shows simultaneously next month. One is Faces In The Mirror with Blek le Rat. The other is Transitions with ABOVE. Blek is the grandfather of outdoor stencil art, and ABOVE is a”post-Banksy” stencil artist. I think this will be Blek le Rat’s first major show since the art market went kablewy, and it’s ABOVE’s first solo show.

I’m very curious to see what these artists are going to do here. You can’t ignore Blek le Rat’s historical importance for street art, but ignoring that, he’s just a guy who cuts stencils. Introducing new iconic imagery won’t be easy, but people will complain just as much if he just makes the same old rats and Caravaggio stencils. And ABOVE works hard to consider placement in his artwork. Will his stencils lose all their power indoors, or will he rethink everything and skillfully consider the placement of his artwork in a gallery space?

Well here’s what White Walls has to say about everything:

White Walls is proud to present a joint show: Faces in the Mirror by Blek le Rat and Transitions by ABOVE. This exhibition brings together the original pioneer stencil artist and his younger counterpart utilizing stencils to create public art in over 40 countries around the world. Please join us for the opening reception on Saturday, May 1st 2010, from 7-11 pm.

This homage to stencil art marks Blek le Rat’s first show in San Francisco as well as the debut indoor exhibition of ABOVE. The meeting of these two artists is a passing of the torch from the original stencil artist to a younger generation of urban artists following in his legacy. Blek let Rat first pioneered stencils in the early 80s as a bold, attention grabbing form of street art that was never before seen. ABOVE is the prominent stencil artist of the new generation, drawing on Blek’s methods to project a social message into the urban environment.

Blek le Rat resides outside of Paris, the very city he claimed 30 years ago as a platform for social commentary. He was the first of his time to employ stencils and spray paint for fast, high contrast images on city walls. Faces in the Mirror is a collection of Blek’s iconic imagery of beggars, sheep, rats, and Michelangelo’s David with an AK-47, combined with never before seen images such as Mona Lisa. These forms open conversation about consciousness, social relation, mass media, and commodity fetishism. Known as the godfather of stencil graffiti art, Blek le Rat has been the great inspiration for artists worldwide including Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Space Invader, WK Interact, and ABOVE.

ABOVE has devoted the past 8 years to creating street art in 45 countries around the world, refusing to take his focus off the streets even for gallery exhibitions. It is only because of Blek le Rat’s strong desire to show alongside him that ABOVE finally conceded to his premier indoor exhibition. Transitions is based on three themes from his outdoor works: sign language arrow mobiles, wordplay murals, and colorful figurative stencils. The overarching sentiment is one of optimism, honor, overcoming struggle, and a desire to rise above.

Please join us for the opening reception of Faces in the Mirror by Blek le Rat and Transitions by ABOVE on Saturday, May 1st, 2010, from 7-11pm. The exhibit will be on view through June 5th, 2010, and is open to the public.