But if you’re looking for something up now in NYC, definitely stop by Roa’s solo show at Jonathan Levine Gallery. ANIMAL very cleverly made a series of GIFs of the show. I had a pretty similar reaction to this show as I had to Roa’s show at Stolenspace last year in London. Basically, I went in with a negative attitude of thinking I’d seen the work before, and I left happy as a kid in a candy store because Roa’s pieces are so damn fun to experience and play with. It’s a really stupid fear/attitude that I have about Roa’s shows, and it’s one that the work always seems to overcome, proving my preconceived notions wrong. Good stuff, as always.
Niels “Shoe” Meulman is retiring his use of the term “Calligraffiti”, because he feels his work is now better represented by the term “Abstract Vandalism,” now that his work is moving away from letters and becoming more abstract. Okay, he’s evolving as an artist, but really: who cares? That’s a pretty standard evolution these days for artists coming out of graffiti. Two reasons this is interesting. First, he’s published a short manifesto of Abstract Vandalism, which I love, and I highly recommend picking up a copy for the great little tidbits like “The difference between art and vandalism is only in the eye of the law upholder.” Second, Shoe is giving up admin control of the Calligraffiti facebook page, which has over half a million likes. In a few days, Shoe will be selecting new admins for the page, artists whose work he feels is in line with Calligraffiti now that his work is not. You can learn more about that, and suggest yourself as a new admin, here.
I’ve never really cared for MTO‘s realistic figurative murals, even though they do play with space in an interesting way, but he’s really piqued my interest with a new piece for Memorie Urbane 2015 in Gaeta, Italy. The piece is a conceptual look into the future, a future where Google controls what information we have access to (oh wait, maybe this isn’t so futuristic…) in public space. The mural is a response to the Google Cultural Institute’s Street Art Project, which ostensibly acts as a digital archive for street art and murals. The project is highly curated and controlled, begging the question: Who decides what’s included, and what isn’t? MTO’s piece also hints at a future where augmented reality is the norm. The re:art has a great article with photos and analysis of MTO’s mural. For now, I’ll just add: I can’t wait for this mural to show up on Google Street View.
It was recently suggested that Vandalog doesn’t do any reporting or write much anymore, and that’s part of why we suck. It’s true that I haven’t been posting as much lately. In part, this is because I didn’t want to just regurgitate the same press releases and photos that all the other major street art blogs are also regurgitating. I only want to write something when I have something exclusive or something to add, which might not be every day. Plus, at the moment, my apartment has no internet connection, which makes things a bit difficult. That should be fixed soon, and posting will probably start to happen more regularly. As for reporting, if an ad agency wants to buy Vandalog and pay all of my bills for no apparent reason, I’d be happy to take your money and spend more time on “proper” reporting. In the mean time, here’s what I can say from Philadelphia with a day job and without a proper internet connection…
Saber and Zes recently painted a mural for Branded Arts in LA. It’s huge, and I really like it. I tend to find Saber’s work hit or miss, but I this one is a major success. I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about legal versus illegal work, illegal work versus the buff and graffiti versus street art. This mural addresses all of those topics on a grand scale.
Shok1‘s mural for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC is no more, things are a bit more complicated than that… Before Shok1 painted that spot, there was a really beautiful tag there by Serf. Over time, the rest of the wall got tagged up, and the singular tag was no longer looking so hot. Additionally, we at The L.I.S.A. Project NYC got permission to put a mural at that location. Shok1 was in town and we were itching to work with him, so he got the spot and painted a great piece. Before Shok1 painted though, I reached out to Serf to give him a heads up, and let him know that we would like to find a wall for him and Mint if he was interested in the idea. I don’t normally do that when we cover illegal graffiti with a mural, but I had a lot of love for this particular tag. That was in April. Recently, Shok1’s mural was tagged up, so we quickly buffed out the tag. It was clear that this mural’s life had ended and something new was in order. We called up Serf again, and arranged for Mint and Serf (aka Mirf) to paint something. Their idea was to create a wall that looked almost abstract but full of graffiti, like a bombed-out wall of an abandoned warehouse. It might not be clear to random passersby whether the work was legal or illegal. Kind of like the (slightly more controlled) shutters that SMART Crew painted recently as part of their installation in Chinatown, although Mirf were working on this idea before the Chinatown piece was completed. Turns out, some people don’t like murals that look like illegal graffiti, even if the wall was originally home to actually illegal graffiti that was going unbuffed. Neighborhood residents complained. We knew the mural would be temporary, as the property owner was about to install advertising on that wall, but we thought it would at least last more than 48 hours. Now, the wall has been buffed black and a street-level advertisement has been installed… It looks like this. Animal New York has more on the story. While I’m bummed to see both Shok1’s work and Mirf’s work gone already, that wall has been a learning experience and an interesting experiment of sorts for us at The L.I.S.A. Project NYC. There was illegal graffiti on the wall, then Shok1 painted a colorful mural. That was replaced by a legal mural that looked like illegal graffiti by the same same artists whose illegal graffiti had graced the wall previously without complaint, and suddenly residents had a serious problem with what they were seeing. The truth is that we at The L.I.S.A. Project NYC are often in close communication with property owners, realtors, building managers, restauranteurs and shop-owners when we put up murals, but rarely do we connect with a building’s residents. Usually, this isn’t a problem, and we have received a lot of positive feedback from residents even when they have not been consulted before a mural goes up, but occasionally we have problems like these. Should we slow down our process and always seek input from a building’s residents and nearby neighbors, or should we keep going as is, giving artists more freedom but always risking a negative reaction after the work is completed? A balance has to be struck, but I’m not sure exactly what that balance is. Every mural program and every mural site is unique, so there are no easy answers, but it’s something we have to continue to think about…
Mighty Mo, Rowdy, Gold Peg and Horror of Burning Candy have put together a show opening June 27th at the Leeds College of Art. Should be a good one, particularly since Mighty Mo’s work has gone in a very surprising and interesting sculptural direction over the last two years or so.
Two more upcoming shows of note are the Crash and Anthony Lister solo shows at Jonathan Levine Gallery in NYC.
The (unauthorized)Banksy retrospective on at the moment at Sotheby’s in London is well worth stopping by. Banksy’s comment on the exhibition (“As a kid I always dreamed of growing up to be a character in Robin Hood. I never realised I’d end up playing one of the gold coins.”) sounds about right though. It’s hard not to be taken aback by the prices at this exhibition, including almost £100,000 for a single print. And yes, that piece sold, as have others. So while prices may be high, it appears there is demand, even if the buyers aren’t always the most Banksy-literate bunch. One comment I overheard from a visitor to the exhibition is telling. But hey, for those of us who just want to look at some good artwork, it’s a solid show. There are pieces I don’t think I’d ever seen before, and many museum-worthy bits that I’m not sure when I’ll see again. For that reason, it’s worth stopping by. And hey, at least the works at Sotheby’s are (mostly) authenticated by Pest Control (someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think one or two of the test prints are without authentication…), and there are no street pieces. So if you are looking to spend a couple hundred grand on a Banksy at the moment, you could do worse than Sotheby’s, like this forgettable and unauthenticated maybe-formally a Banksy for $40,000+.
Max Rippon (aka Ripo) and Roa are currently showing at Stolenspace Gallery in London. Ripo’s show in the front room is solid, but I wish there were more works on paper, or works that are more physically complex. The real highlight from Ripo is this painting on handcut paper, but it’s the only piece like it in the show. The rest are canvases like this one with amalgamations of text in strips or slices of varying size. Nothing wrong with those, but I don’t think the fully showcase Ripo’s talent. Roa’s show is among the best I’ve seen from any street artist in a long while. At first glance, yes, it’s what you’d expect from Roa: Animals in black and white or in varying states of decay on wood, plus some moving parts that allow the viewer to change up the paintings a bit. Honestly, I went to the show to see Ripo’s work and see friends, not expecting to be too amazed with Roa’s work. It’s good and all, but I figured that I’d seen it 100 times before. I was wrong. Graffoto’s review and images (and Stolenspace’s images) provide some idea of what Roa did, but really you just have to walk through the show. I hope someone with a steadicam goes in and makes a beautiful video exploring the space. Still, I’ll try to explain… You can’t just look at the work in this show and call it a day. You have to walk around it and see it from every angle. One piece, London Mole Installation, is made up of four piece of wood, arranged like this with different images of a mole, each running across two of the wooden panels, so that as you walk around the piece, you effective get at least 8 significantly different compositions of the mole depending your angle. But that is just a warm up for Osborn Bat Installation, a 3-piece installation involving mirrors and painted wood panels. Each of the three pieces is interesting on its own and sort of a mini version of London Mole Installation, but then the three pieces also come together to form compositions depending on your angle. You might be reading this and think, “Well duh, you look at installation art from different angles and it looks different,” but this goes beyond that, because every angle you look at this work from actually feels like a complete and different composition. The piece is like a puzzle, except that each piece of the puzzle is interesting on its own too, and the puzzle fits together in a myriad of interesting ways. Really, you just have to walk through this thing. If you happen to be in London, do not miss this show. It proved to me that Roa is not just a guy who can simply by written off as painting the same animals over and over again in the same style. He’s much more than that.
I’ve been traveling a bit and I’m in London at the moment, so here’s me playing some catch up:
There seems to be a big question mark on the freshly launched Street Art Project from Google. I’ve been getting friends outside of street art sending me links to the NYTimes article about the project and asking what the hell to think, and everyone within street art that I’ve spoken with seems unsure of what to think about the thing. I’m also unsure so far. On the surface, sounds great: A major institution offering to archive, tag, map and promote the best high-resolution photos of street art around the world. But the more I think about it, the less exciting it sounds: Only a select few contributors (from the amazing Living Walls to the questionableGlobal Street Art), essentially replicating the functions of flickr without the ability for anyone to participate, using art to whitewash the reputation of a controversial company… Honestly, if I had the opportunity to contribute photos to this project, I probably would just because of the possible selfish promotional value, but at the same time I’m not sure that this project is of any real worth the the street art or graffiti communities. I don’t know. I’m just not sold on the idea that this is the best strategy or documentation or archival. Anyone have any thoughts on this thing?
Ken Sortais aka PAL Crew’s Cony had a show on in Paris earlier this month. The show has closed now, but it’s worth checking out the photos. The sculptures are very George Condo-esque, but Sortais has some real talent. The work isn’t completely removed from his graffiti, but he’s certainly not using his graffiti reputation or skills as a crutch for these gallery works, something that happens all too often with less talented artists as they move from the street to the gallery.
All of London is talking about the Roa and Ripo shows opening today at Stolenspace Gallery. I’m looking forward to the opening: Two artists whose work I enjoy, and it will be my first time at Stolenspace’s new location.
Next week four of the great early photographers of graffiti will be on a panel hosted by Jay J.SON Edlin at the Museum of the City of New York as part of the City as Canvas show. That’s one event not to miss. I may even come up from Philadelphia for it, so if you’re in NYC, you have no excuse not to go. Use the discount code in this flyer to save a bit on tickets to the event.
C215 has gone back to what he does best with his recent show at Stolenspace Gallery in London. For the last few years, a lot of C215’s larger and more significant work has been full of vibrant color. For some artists, color works with what they are doing and they have a great sense of it. For others, less is more. While a lot of people do some to like C215’s colorful pieces, they weren’t for me, at least compared to less colorful stuff. I’ve always preferred his work in black and white or muted tones. With Back to Black, my wishes for less color have been wonderfully fulfilled.
Back in Black opened on the 7th, but I’m just posting about it now because there’s another event happening in conjunction with the show that I’m excited about… This Friday, a new book will be launching at Stolenspace in conjunction with C215’s show. The book, Vitry Ville Street Art, shows off some of the street art and murals in Vitry-sur-Seine, a Parisian suburb where C215 has been quietly bringing street artists for years. I wouldn’t say that the work in Vitry-sur-Seine is a secret, but it definitely isn’t widely known compared to the hype that so many more formal street art festivals get. I haven’t seen this new book yet, but I hope it helps shed light on an underrated little street art hub.
The London Police are due to show in, well, London next month at StolenSpace Gallery. It’s All Fun & Games Until Someone Gets Hurt centers on theme of sport. As the press release notes, “they have totally mistimed their sterling effort of jumping on the Olympic bandwagon,” but hey, those works are complex things and a show around sport is better late than never.
It’s All Fun & Games Until Someone Gets Hurt opens on May 9th (6-9pm) and runs through May 26th. I’m headed to London in late May, so while I’ll miss the opening myself, I’m looking forward to seeing the show in person.
Ever thought that Times Square would look a lot better covered in art instead of ads? Well so have a lot of people, and now Times Square Art Square is trying to make that vision a reality. They have a Kickstarter going to try to fund the idea.
The city is pretty much in a tizzy with the arrival of Shepard Fairey in the flesh. Getting ready for his new solo Sound & Vision at StolenSpace to open Friday (if you haven’t heard about this yet you are living under a gigantic rock), the American artist has been hanging around East London with his team painting up a storm and freezing their California asses off in the British Autumn.
Once the fanboys began to leave, I had the chance to stop by and take some pictures of his latest mural on progress (a version of which will be in the show) and two other finished works. I also stopped by the OBEY pop-up shop as it is being created on Brick Lane for the big night. If you aren’t going to pony up the cash for a Shepard Fairey original, than make sure to stop across the street to the shop to pick some more affordable Shepard Fairey goods including books and OBEY clothing, as well as the majority of the OBEY x Keith Haring collaboration line which I am still head over heels for.
Later this month, Roa will have a 2-location solo show with London’s Stolenspace Gallery. The name of the show, Hypnagogia, comes from the state between being awake and falling asleep. In addition to Stolenspace’s usual location, a second part of the show will be at The Stone Masons (17 Osborne Street, London E1 6TD). Hypnagogia runs from April 20th through May 6th. It will also function as the UK launch event for Roa’s first book.