I wonder how many people reading this have ever sat down and thought, “Hmm, I could be the next Banksy.” The truth is, there is major appeal in street art — the secrecy, the rush, the message, the money. Many individuals, both artists and non-artists (think Mr. Brainwash), have been attracted to the art of graffiti, whether for creative, adrenaline-based or financial reasons. But as up-and-coming LA-based street artist WasNMe will tell you, it’s not as easy as it seems!
We sat down with the British-born ex-photographer who is now making his mark (literally!) on the streets of Los Angeles to talk about his journey and get an inside look into what it’s really like trying to make it in street art.
An internet search for Elena Khudiakova will not tell you much. This apparently enigmatic Muscovite was not exactly obscure during her lifetime, being revered for her fashion designs by collectors such as EltonJohn, who bought one of her subversive re-imaginings of the Stalinist uniform, or fellow designer Vivienne Westwood, whom she worked for from 1994-2010. She was also a fine artist who was admired by Charles Saatchi (who naturally bought her whole collection) and Francis Bacon, whom she regularly dined with. Yet it seems difficult to find information on her these days, despite her prolific career and evident presence in influential circles. In London, she exhibited at (to name but a few) the Birch and Conran Fine Art Gallery and the Anthony Reynold’s Gallery, the Russian Cultural Centre, Pushkin House and the Russian embassy. But unless you were there, there is no real way of knowing what impact Khudiakova really had. Sadly, her life and work are scantily documented.
In forties and fifties America, Abstract Expressionism ruled. Pop art gave realism a way back in, but even in our own age there is a degree of embarrassment about realism in contemporary art.
The late American realist sculptor Duane Hanson stuck to his guns attempting to re-connect art with everyday life and put the spotlight on a large portion of society that are typically ignored.
During the sixties Hanson’s life-like figures caused widespread controversy shocking viewers with works like Trash (1967); in which a dead baby suffocated with a plastic bag lies within a dustbin amid an umbrella, beer cans and various other outcast items. The latter is the only work displayed from his early period, but is still as shocking as it was nearly half a century ago.
Arriving at Imitate Modern’s new space at 90 Piccadilly on Saturday 6th June, I am excited to check out artist Paul Oz’s portraits of the most feared and adored 80’s icons. Assembled for ‘80s KID‘, Paul’s first UK solo show now on view at the gallery, the works are vividly coloured, highly textured and pulsing with an unmistakably 80’s energy.
Set against white walls, Maggie Thatcher catches my attention first, her deep-set eyes seeming to call me up the long staircase, with that signature Maggie flair, a combination of traditional British elegance coupled with a gentle gaze and slightly pursed lips.
Never-before-seen images of my personal favourite cinema siren, Brigitte Bardot, are coming to London thanks to Dadiani Fine Art and photographer Ray Bellisario. ‘Brigitte Bardot: 13 Unseen Photographs’ opens 6th June and features charming, off-the-cuff colour images of the actress taken over the course of a 1968 weekend PR trip to London.
Instead of the usual bikini-clad glamour shots in South of France, witness the French beauty virtually makeup free lounging on the bar of the pub and casually cruising through Selfridges, among other inconspicuous local haunts.
Last Thursday, we were lucky enough to be taken on a private tour of Artpusher’s recently-closed show ‘I Love Mangahattan‘ at MeadCarney, Mayfair. For those of you who don’t know his work, Artpusher is one of the new wave of European street artists whose works look sharp both in the gallery and on the streets.
Artpusher’s influences range from his father, an accomplished watercolour painter in his own right, to Picasso, Basquiat, Warhol and Koons, along with Street Art gurus the likes of Ron English, Banksy and Blek Le Rat. These inspirations can be seen in the size, scale and detail of his photorealistic works, which draw on pop art, street art and comic books (specifically Japanese manga) to create large-scale cityscapes focused on the consumerism of New York and Times Square. His works draw the eye to commercial inconsistencies; brands are warped, logos destroyed and reassembled. Irony practically drips off each piece and the humour is apparent. His are definitely works you spend awhile on rather than zoom past.
On Friday 26th April I had the absolute pleasure of attending ‘you have got my bone,’ an exhibition organised by Pascal Colman (Westminster), Alice Howard (Slade School of Fine Art) and Olivia Bladen (UCL, ArtAttack), which closed on Saturday after a week-long run. The show took place over three floors at the old Foyles bookshop in Charing Cross, and as I wandered through the exhibition, level after level, taking it all in, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to have made it back from LA in time to see this.
If you read this blog, you know my fondness for student-run exhibitions, but I must admit this particular attempt was unlike any other I’ve seen. Artist and exhibition director, Pascal, came across the former bookshop by chance on a walk, and seeing how empty the space was, inquired how much it would cost to rent for a week’s time. He and friend/Artist, Alice, then worked out that with enough artists participating the cost would be next-to-nothing, and so they went for it — inviting their peers, friends, and any artist who desired, to put up work in the show. There were no parameters for the art whatsoever except that the space had to be left in the condition in which it was found.
Of course, here we hit upon another another ArtAttack favourite — open exhibitions.