It’s another slow week, but things should start to get going again soon. The holidays can’t last forever. Here are bits of news from around the web that didn’t make it into their own post here this week:
I wrote a list (with some help from Caroline Caldwell) for Complex.com of 10 street artists to watch in 2012. Let me know what you think in comments on this post or over on Complex.com.
Gestalten recently published a new book of Brad Downey‘s work: Spontaneous Sculptures. The book focuses on a series that Brad calls his spontaneous sculptures (of course): A mostly illegal and non-permissioned series of work where Brad interacts with public spaces somehow. While the book of course includes some academic-sounding texts and interviews with Brad, I found the real appeal here to be seeing all of this work in one place. Too often, Brad Downey is written off as nothing more than a dickish prankster when you see one piece on its own, but he’s much more than that. Yes, he’s at least an impish prankster, but Spontaneous Sculptures is a reminder that Brad is also a brilliant artist whose work encourages unfettered interaction with public spaces. If that occasionally results in a broken window or two, so be it.
Of course, not every sculpture Brad does is brilliant. Much of it is far from that, but within the context of an entire book, that’s okay. Even a boring or “failed” Spontaneous Sculpture is going to change public space in some way.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough to those who aim to view their world with more of twinkle in their eye and the inspiration needed to make change. It made me want to walk around and make the world a more interesting place, or at least a different one.
Photos by Brad Downey from “Spontaneous Sculptures” copyright Gestalten 2011
Expect next week’s link-o-rama to be a big one. It’s mid-term week at school. Speaking of school, I’m organizing an artist residency for young artists at my college. If you are between 18 and 24 and could use $350 to do something creative, I hope you’ll consider applying for the Haverford College Undergraduate Artist Residency. Here’s what has been going on this week off Vandalog:
Remember that beautiful Barry McGee piece in Sydney that we mentioned two weeks ago? That wall of tags? Turns out he wasn’t supposed to paint that, so it’s getting removed. He was meant to, and did, paint another wall, but not the wall that he tagged. Officially, this was an honest mistake and an unfortunate case of confusion on McGee’s part, but if you had a cherry picker or a scissor lift and some extra paint, how would you spend your nights?
While some lazier blogs have been misreporting things (as the media notoriously does), here’s what really going on at a gallery in Germany where an artwork by Banksy has been “rediscovered” and uncovered beneath layers of paint. While one might initially suspect that this is a publicity stunt by a gallery (my first thoughts were: the piece could be a fake, or even if it’s real, it’s most likely a ploy by a crass gallery owner to get people in the door, and the wall will quickly be sold like so many Banksy street pieces and the gallery had just been waiting for the right time to do this), it’s not that simple. In fact, the room is installation by Brad Downey, titled What Lies Beneath.
Here’s what is known about the artwork: The Banksy piece seen the above photo is real and was painted in 2003 for the Backjumps Live show, Brad instructed art restorers to uncover the piece which was hidden beneath years of paint, Brad got the rest of the walls painted red, Brad got sections of the other walls in the room removed, Brad lists the materials as “restored/extracted ‘Banksy’ Installation (originally painted in 2003 for the exhibition Backjumps- Volume:1), red paint,” the piece is part of a show curated by Adrian Nabi called Do Not Think! and Adrian Nabi curated the Backjumps show.
That said, Brad Downey is a clever artist. In fact, one of the only street artists that I suspect might be more clever than Brad would have to be Banksy. For that reason, I suspect that there is some mystery yet to be uncovered about this installation. Especially given Brad’s use of the word “extracted” in the description of What Lies Beneath and also the text on Banksy’s piece, “Every picture tells a lie!”, I’m curious to know more about those segments that Brad has removed from the room. I’d say there’s definitely more to this story than meets the eye (maybe Brad has extracted a few Banksy’s to throw up on eBay), but maybe the installation is telling a lie. While of course many blogs and newspapers seem to be excited about the new (to them) Banksy, according to one German newspaper, “[Brad’s] work was not primarily about Banksy’s work, but to criticize the art market.”
You can see What Lies Beneath for yourself at the Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien gallery in Berlin through October 29th.
You know what’s really nice? Sleep. Hence, this weekend is a blessing. For now, life is school school school and more school. Hopefully there’s still a trip to NYC in my near future though… Here’s what has been going on around the internet and on the street:
OverUnder and Chris Stain have gotten things started at Living Walls Albany. OverUnder’s portrait looks kinda like an Ethos piece, but it still looks cool. And Chris’ tribute to the 9/11 first responders was painted on wood and has just been moved to the New York State Museum.
A few years ago, there was a castled painted in Scotland by some of Brazil’s best street artists: Nina, Nunca and Os Gêmeos. It was supposed to be temporary, but the owners of the castle want to keep it.
Jim Carrey and Shia LaBeouf are both trying to do some street art. Yep, the guy from Ace Ventura and a Disney Channel star are now technically street artists. Melrse&Fairfax says, “Interesting how street art seems to be more and more an exciting ‘escape’ for celebrities.” I’d like to replace interesting with some other word or words…
Very short notice on this one, but Brad Downey‘s latest show, We Are Beginning: Personal Projects in Public Spaces, is opening today at the Caudro Fine Art Gallery in Dubai. I don’t know what this show entails, but given that it is part of a residency program at Caudro, I’m thinking maybe some new Dubai-based street art. Brad is one of my favorite artists, so it’s cool to see that he is one working in such a unique city as Dubai.
Wow. This week has gone by really quickly. I guess the world feels like it is moving faster when you are running on less sleep. Such a counter-intuitive thing. Anyway, here is what has been going on that I didn’t have a chance to write about this week:
Two members of the Russian artist/activist group Voina are finally out on bail, in part thanks to Banksy.
While Brad Downey, one of my favorite street artists, was at BLK River recently, he tried an experiment in graffiti removal for an artwork called Searching for Something Concrete. While at first look it’s not my favorite piece from Brad, he always keeps things interesting and his art always seems to grow on me over a period of weeks. Here’s a video of the artwork:
What is there to say about this latest piece from Brad Downey? I figure this is either something devised by an evil genius or a brilliant urban interventionist, or a bit of both. This might make me a bad person, but I’m definitely laughing. What do you think? The first image is a “before” and below is the “after.”
Brad Downey has a solo show opening tonight in Vienna. I Forgot What I Wanted To Say is at DIEAUSSTELLUNGSSTRASSE, has been curated by Sydney Ogidan and will be on through June 30th. This is definitely something to check out if you are in Vienna. Brad Downey is one of the smartest artists that I know. Conceptually, his work is miles beyond most street artists.