Gallery Profiles: Black Rat Press

Update: Part Two is now online here.

This is the first in a series of interviews with directors/curators/whatever-they-wish-to-be-called of art galleries.

To start it all off, I’ve got Mike Snelle, the owner of The Black Rat Press. BRP is one of London’s premier galleries specializing in street art. In the past year, the gallery has shown work from Swoon, Blek le Rat, Nick Walker, D*face, and many others. Located in Shoreditch, behind Cargo and next two a few Banksy pieces, BRP is a must-visit gallery for any street art fan.

On a personal note, BRP was the first gallery I ever visited that sold street art, and I did a work experience there this summer. They are some of the most fun people I know in the art world, and I certainly wouldn’t have started Vandalog without their willingness to let me spend far too much time admiring their shows.

This is part one of a two part interview. I’ll post part two tomorrow.

RJ: What sets The Black Rat Press apart from other galleries?

Mike Snelle: I think galleries are similar to artists in that those that are most interesting have their own unique voice and do not imitate others. I feel that we are developing that here at Black Rat and hope to continue to do so next year. It’s partly a matter of not being dictated to by the marketplace and what’s hot at the moment. It is more valuable and interesting to work with artists that you believe in even when sometimes other people don’t get it. You hope as a gallery that over time people will come to share your belief in an artists work.

Continue reading “Gallery Profiles: Black Rat Press”

Klone

I’ve only just discovered Klone in the past week or two, but I’m loving his work. I see a bit of a Hera vibe, which isn’t to say he doesn’t have his own style. His trademark character is all around Tel Aviv, and his work is sold at the Legal Action Gallery.

Here are a few images off of Klone’s flickr:

Kid - Klone
Kid - Klone
Slingshot - Klone
Slingshot - Klone
To Be or What? - Klone
To Be or What? - Klone
City Predators - Klone
City Predators - Klone

Westminster Council To Remove Banksy

Banksy’s icon “One Nation Under CCTV” piece in Westminster is going to be removed.

One Nation Under CCTV - Banksy
One Nation Under CCTV - Banksy. photo by judepics

That’s what The Times says in this article has been decided by the local council.

The Times has learnt that Westminster Council has demanded that a mural by the pseudonymous graffiti artist, a 7m (23 ft) criticism of Britain’s CCTV culture, must be painted over. While other authorities have turned a blind eye to Banksy, the council said yesterday that it would remove any graffiti, regardless of the reputation of its creator. Westminster said that Banksy had no more right to paint graffiti than a child – which, ironically, is the subject of the piece in question (pictured above).

Robert Davis, the chairman of Westminster’s planning committee, said that the personality behind the artwork was irrelevant. “If we condone this then we might as well say that any kid with a spray can is producing art,” he said. “To go and deface other people’s property is graffiti. Just because he’s famous doesn’t give him that right.”

Simply put: this sucks. The piece is fantastic, and fantastically located. In fact, I just told some friends visiting from the states about it tonight, and they are planning visiting the piece. I understand, though do not like, that the councils have to buff some street art, but it is just stupid for them to buff a Banksy. It is a legitimate tourist attraction. And not that I approve of selling street pieces, but the owners of the wall could have made good money just tearing the piece down and selling it instead of letting it get painted over.

Mike Marcus seemed to have the right idea about how to combat the buff with his “Don’t remove me, I’m a Banksy” stencils, but alas, they may no longer be enough to save street art from local councils.

Don't Remove Me
Don't Remove PMP. Photo by Vandalog

The Sky Is Falling

The Dreweatts Urban Art auction underperformed.

Work at Frieze didn’t sell as well as in previous years.

The Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auction was a flop.

Bonhams’ Urban Art auction left great pieces onsold and others at far below the estimate.

The art market, and the urban art market in particular, is not looking good. But is it over?

Adam Martin at  Beautiful Crime says no, and I have to agree. Martin argues for a second wave in the urban art market.

I talked to a number of dealers there and the odd Euro rich punter and the feeling was, the market had gotten a little overheated at the top end of late and this was a ‘shake down auction‘.

Ultimately it’s a positive outcome, greed has been replaced by a need for more realistic pricing. Lesser known Artist’s, Zero, Cept, Word to Mother did well and I think reflect the market’s need to look beyond the Banksy’s and Neate’s which are now in hedgeless hedge fund realms, and look to nurture some new talent.

I’d say this was officially the beginning of the second wave of urban art.

I very much agree with Martin’s prediction of a second wave of urban art. In this second wave, prices readjust and (to an extent) take hype out of the equation, and the size of the midrange market increases, offering underrated artists like Cept, Armsrock, and Know Hope a chance to increase both their fanbase and their prices. Artists like D*Face, on the other hand, may have a hard time in this new market.

The economic downturn is certainly not the end of the genre that some have speculated. In fact, due to the nature of urban art, it would be pretty hard for it to ever die out completely. Because of the anti-establishment and “working man” nature of a lot of urban art, parts of the market should be embraced and grow much stronger during an economic downturn, and others will decline. Essentially, the “real” collectors of urban art will come back into control of the market (for a little while).

I see the urban art market as a bit like a pickup truck on a dirt road. Right now, we’ve hit a rough patch, and when we make it back to a smooth road all the contents of the truck will be a bit jumbled around. Some artists will have fallen to the bottom of the market, and others will rise to the top.

Judith Supine In NYC

I think these are new, either way, some great work by Judith Supine.

Eye Woman - Judith Supine
Eye Woman - Judith Supine. Photo by SReed99342
Judith Supine - Eye Woman (Detailed)
Eye Woman (Detailed) - Judith Supine. Photo by SReed99342
Man and Child - Judith Supine. Photo by SReed99342
Man and Child - Judith Supine. Photo by Diane DaCruz-DiDonato

Gee Vaucher Print @ POW

Gee Vaucher released a new print at Pictures on Walls today. Sold out less than an hour after they sent our an email announcing the release.

Vital stats:

Title: Great Scott

Edition size: 200

Price: £175

Size: 54 x 66cm

Colors: 9

Sale Status: SOLD OUT

Gee Vaucher - Great Scott
Great Scott - Gee Vaucher

At first, I didn’t get this image, but upon closer inspection, I love it. Sure it isn’t the absolute most original idea ever, but it is well executed and very subtle. Also, it’s just a great screenprint. Reminds me a bit of Peter Kennard’s “Haywain with Cruise Missiles”, as well as Agent Provocateur’s Biggles character.

Biggles in Grey Clouds
Biggles in Grey Clouds - Agent Provocateur

Recent Shows

Thought I’d make a short list of links to some of this week’s street art exhibitions.

1. Shepard Fairey‘s latest exhibit, in DC, has opened, and the opening looks like it was great. Very jealous of whoever got to attend. Arrested Motion has the details.

2. Chris Stain has an online show at Dirty Pilot with some pretty cool stencils. I have a version of the image below (just the center bit though), and it is one my favorite pieces in my collection. Really strong imagery.

Chris Stain - From Here You Can See Tomorrow
Chris Stain - From Here You Can See Tomorrow

3. The Thaw, a group show for charity, opened in London. Matt Small, Pure Evil, Cept, and many others have work in the show. The Thaw raises money for Medical Aid for Iraqi Children.

4. Dain‘s show, Time Machine, at the Brooklynite Gallery has opened this week as well. Arrested Motion once again has the details and more photos.

Dain - Betty Davis
Dain - Betty Davis

5. Burning Candy with Sweet Toof, Cyclops, and Tek 33 is in London at the Satorial Gallery. Looks cool, though I haven’t been yet. Possible updates on this when I get over there, in the mean time, check Graffoto.

6. Frieze Art Fair of course was this weekend in Regent’s Park. Personally, I was unimpressed by 90% of the work, but no doubt there was some good work such as Jake and Dinos Chapman model at the White Cube booth, and some life size army men. Graffoto has some great photos, and I’ll upload my low-quality camera-phone ones tomorrow (my usual camera broke).

7. Art of the State seems to have beat me to posting show round ups this weeks, and they have the info on the exhibits at the Truman Brewery. Opus Art put on Kounter Kulture with all of thier best artists, and Dave White has Planes, Tanks and Automatics.